In the progress Nordic countries, officials and police are still acting to censor any critical discussion of Islam’s role in European society.
Norwegian police apologized to a man from Kongsberg for showing up at his house last week and demanding him to tear down posters featuring cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, which he hung up across town in response to the grisly beheading of a teacher in France.
According to local broadcaster NRK, the man, 40, went around the Kongsberg town center, mostly in “visible places such as the shopping center, the train station, and the library” and hung 20 of these posters.
The man wanted to remain anonymous, NRK notes, but the man revealed his motive: To highlight the importance of freedom of expression and that “Islam cannot have any special protection in a free society.”
He said: “I want us to have an honest conversation about Islam without people being branded as racists and fascists.”
NRK said the man “wanted to see if he could provoke the police” with posters.
“I had a feeling that if I did this, the police would take it up with me. But it was far worse than I ever thought,” the man said.
The man’s identity was compromised by surveillance camera footage, allowing police to identify him. On the same day, four police officers showed up at the man’s house, requesting him to remove the offensive posters.
Later, police walked back their request and apologized for overstepping the man’s freedoms.
“I regret that the person was approached in this way. It just demands an apology,” Kongsberg police station chief Havard Reva said.
Regional leader Øyvind Aas in the Southeast police district also offered an apology to the man:
“We cannot order him to take them away. We shouldn’t also say anything about statements that are hung up,” Aas said, describing it a “mistake”.
Before Kongsberg, French teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded by a Chechen refugee on Oct. 16 for showing his students cartoons of Prophet Mohammed as part of a lesson on freedom of expression.
French President Emmanuel Macron characterized the brutal murder as an “Islamist terrorist attack” while urging France to resist such extremism. Macron’s comments did not sit well with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who lashed out at the French president this past weekend, calling for Macron to undergo a mental health check due to his position on Muslims.
And maybe, just maybe, the Western world is starting to wake up and perhaps agree with Macron’s condemnation of Islamic extremist violence. As the Norwegian man said, there needs to be an “honest conversation” about Islam in Europe without being labeled a racist or having their head chopped off.