Lars Hedegaard replies to Open Letter

In my letter last night to Lars Hedegaard, the president of the International Free Press Society, I argued that the fundamental mission of the IFPS, which is to secure the freedom of speech and of the press both from leftist Western governments and from Islamic jihadists, cannot be successfully carried out so long as Muslims continue to reside en masse in the West and are thus in a position to carry out fatwas, i.e., to commit murder, against Western writers and journalists who have criticized Islam. In his response, Mr. Hedegaard points out that the IFPS is a single issue organization: “We have no other objective than free speech. That is what has kept us together and allowed us to rally people with all manner of political persuasions, programmes, religions, and outlooks on life.” Thus the concern that animated my letter—how to secure the lives of Western individuals targeted by Islamic death sentences, without which they cannot enjoy the right of speech, is beyond the purview of the IFPS.

Lars Hedegaard writes:

Dear Lawrence,

The International Free Press Society is well aware that these days threats against free speech are not exclusively—and perhaps not even primarily—coming from governments. As I said in my very first report to the Danish Free Press Society—our mother organization—back at our inaugural assembly in March 2005, present attempts to crush freedom of expression come from several actors: national governments, supranational organizations such as the EU and the UN, and, not least, Islam. And not only from so-called “Islamists” or “terrorists” or “Islamic radicals.” They are inherent in the very core of Mohammedan ideology.

That has been our position all along. We have made no bones about the fact that we consider Islam—as it is presently being preached by all influential clerics and ideologues—a deadly threat to all our freedoms among which are freedom of expression. For this consistent stance we have been vilified and called every name in the book, but we will not budge.

I’m aware that some of my friends think that Islam can be reformed, domesticated, and civilized. I welcome that day, but must relate to the fact that it hasn’t happened yet—though Muslims have had 1,400 years to complete the project.

So the International Free Press Society has decided to live in the real world. And the real world demands robust defence of free speech, repeal of all blasphemy and hate-speech laws, and unwavering support of everyone who is being bullied and threatened by adherents of the caliphate. All this we have done to the best of our ability and with a fair degree of success. Whenever the likes of Geert Wilders, Kurt Westergaard, Robert Redeker, Gregorius Nekschot and so many others have come under threat, we have been the first to give them a platform and stand by them through thick and thin.

Just a few days ago, the Free Press Society received a mail from Gregorius Nekschot thanking us for the fact that after many years of harassment, the Dutch prosecutor has dropped the criminal charges against him for drawing offensive pictures. Nekschot is in no doubt that the solidarity shown by the IFPS has been instrumental in securing this happy outcome.

You are right that this is not enough. But remember that we are and will remain a single-issue organization. We have no other objective than free speech. That is what has kept us together and allowed us to rally people with all manner of political persuasions, programmes, religions, and outlooks on life.

We are not a political party. We are not a parallel society that should take up arms to drive out religious Muslims—if that is what you are hinting at.

We live in democratic societies where it is the duty of the state and its police and security forces to uphold the law and protect our liberties. And we should certainly demand that they do exactly that. If they don’t—and our current governments do not—then we must elect new leaders and vote for parties that will solve the problems you describe. We did not create those problems, they did, so will they please tell us how they intend to deal with them?

By exercising our right of free speech we will even help our governments and politicians become aware of the problems which we are facing and which you so eloquently point out.

Lars Hedegaard
President of The International Free Press Society

LA replies:


Thank you very much for the well written and thoughtful letter, which I have posted at VFR. You have well stated the purpose of the IFPS. Your position is entirely consistent and coherent, as far as it goes.

At the same time, my fundamental concern remains—and it remains unaddressed. The moment that a Muslim cleric anywhere in the world pronounces a death sentence on any one of us, and his followers in our country proceed to attempt to carry out the sentence, or even if they are only reasonably believed to be attempting to carry out the sentence, we have lost our freedom, including, obviously, our freedom of speech. If our freedom can be taken away from us at any time, at a moment’s notice, as Molly Norris’s freedom has been taken away from her at a moment’s notice, we have no freedom. Thus true freedom of speech does not and cannot exist in a country with a significant Muslim population.

And that’s where we are at present.

Best regards,

Larry Auster

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 28, 2010 07:29 PM | Send

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