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Copenhagen shooting: we debated free speech despite the gunfire – we will not surrender

14 February 2015

7:16 PM

14 February 2015

7:16 PM

I was invited to Lars Vilks* Committee in Copenhagen to present Passion for Freedom London Art Festival. The committee is organised annually, on the anniversary of Salman Rushdie’s fatwa. The meeting started with a short introduction from one of the organizers followed by François Zimeray, the French ambassador, commemorating Charlie Hebdo and discussing the challenges that we face when it comes to the threats to freedom of speech and democracy in our countries.

After a short introduction, Inna Shevchenko opened the panel and started to talk about Femen and her work. She also discussed her close friendship with Charb, the editor of Charlie Hebdo, and how they both stood strong exercising their right to freedom of expression. A few minutes into her speech we heard separate bangs.


It sounded like crackers. Everyone was sitting and Inna was speaking as the bangs turned into a shower of bullets. It sounded like a machine gun. There was lots of shouting in Danish, the security shouted that Lars should evacuate, everyone started to run or hide. A few people remained sitting. I slid behind the stage to hide.

After the shooting subdued everyone started to come together. We decided to continue with the presentation. I presented Passion for Freedom’s work and we took a few questions from the audience. Everyone thanked us that we continued. We will not surrender; they cannot kill all of us.

Agnieszka Kolek is an organiser of the annual international festival ‘Passion for Freedom’

Lars Vilks, 67, is a Swedish cartoonish who has survived two attempts on his life after depicting Mohammed. The Lars Vilks Committee was set up to support him and organised the event, at which he was present. 

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Show comments
  • roccolore

    Muslims have very thin skin like always.

    • N. P.

      How thick is your skin? Let’s see if you can keep yourself from not responding.

      • roccolore

        Thick enough not to kill over cartoons, Achmed.

        • N. P.

          It’s actually Ahmed. No need to add this c in there.
          so you would advocate killing muslims..just won’t do it with your I have it right?

          • roccolore

            You Muslims advocate killing CHristians, Jews, Hindus, Yazidis…

            • N. P.

              Nope..never. it is forbidden in Islam to kill any innocent specially a minority..

      • roccolore

        My skin is thick enough not to kill over cartoons like your jihadist buddies did to the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists.

        • N. P.

          But not thick enough to have a conversation without insulting others. Haha.

  • punk

    Wake up people of Europe!

    Solidarity from Hindu India. Join the anti-islam resistance.
    United we stand. Divided we fall.

  • JSC

    In case you’ve all forgotten how not to be Islamophobic in a modern multicultural society, repeat The Politicians Mantra after me:

    “Islam is not a terror cult, Islam is a religion of peace”
    “Islam is not a terror cult, Islam is a religion of peace”
    “Islam is not a terror cult, Islam is a religion of peace”

    Now that’s done all we have to do is pay jizya like good dhimmi and maybe they’ll not kill us all yet, inshallah.

  • trace9
  • Martin Boutin

    Share the love, Valentine’s day isn’t so far away!

  • whs1954

    Sorry, but ducking, and then standing up to talk again is not enough. Asserting free speech is not enough. Symbolic gestures are no longer enough.

    Paradoxically, your right to free speech will not be preserved until it is accepted the Islamists’ speech is silenced – their right to spread hate, their right to call for subjugation in the name of Allah, their right to use free speech to incite others to hatred and violence and murder, is extinguished.

    While you managed to preserve your convention this week amidst chaos, what’s to say next time won’t be another 9/11, where all the conflicting arguments will be drowned into a silence on you all, enforced by a suicide bomber’s trigger?

    But then, this has been going on for 25 years or more. Those who pretended to believe in Salman Rushdie’s freedom also believed in the Islamists’ right to threaten Rushdie with death. These rights are incompatible.

    Now is a time for choosing between various peoples’ rights. I am for the right to exercise free speech; hence I am against Islamists’ right to bully and cajole and blow things up, and I’m for punishing those who use violence to disagree. What a shame western governments prefer the craven way out.

  • WFC

    “The dead of Valentine’s Day in Copenhagen have now been named:

    “Dan Uzan was a 37-year-old Jew – sorry, I mean “member of the random community” – and he died outside the synagogue serving as a “security guard” for a Bat Mitzvah.

    “That’s part of the problem – long before anybody starts killing the security guards. In Europe in the 21st century, a young girl’s Bat Mitzvah can only take place behind a security perimeter. What a sewer the EU elites have made of their Eutopia. The state church – the Church of Denmark – does not require security guards, nor elsewhere on the Continent do Catholic churches. But Jewish religious and social life in Copenhagen and across Europe is now possible only behind a barrier of security. Laura Rosen Cohen has a useful round-up of those foot-of-page-17 news stories that chart, remorselessly, the social disintegration of Denmark – from the security perimeter, to the advice to Jews not to wear identifying marks of their faith when they leave the house, to the exclusion of Jewish children from public schools.”

  • Kennie

    Why does the ‘issue’ of Freedom of Speech need to be debated. I was always taught that, in the West, Free Speech was a non-negotiable right. Apart from being overrun and the arrival of pc, what has happened.
    Where is call-me-Dave? We would expect by now he would have given a speech titled ” this was nothing to do with islam”

    • WFC

      “Apart from being overrun and the arrival of pc, what has happened.”

      The arrival of the only group of university graduates who never grew out of the idiocies they were taught to believe at Uni.

      Who’ve never lived or worked in the real world, and, therefore, have never been mugged by reality.

  • Brogan75
  • Jackthesmilingblack

    You load the Muslims onto some trains, and send to some camps, and then … Bye bye.

    • Mister Rible

      WE are not the nazis, THEY are the nazis
      They should be shipped off back to their cesspits, so they can continue their killing sprees amongst themselves.

      • Augustus

        Perhaps now’s the time for everyone to start wearing a yarmulke.

        Where does one get those things?

  • 68Truthseeker1

    VIDEO – During a press conference on how to combat radical Islamic extremism, Admiral James A. “Ace” Lyons (U.S. Navy, Ret.), former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, stated that under the leadership of Barack Obama the Muslim Brotherhood have infiltrated all of the National Security Agencies of the United States.…/


  • anneallan

    How about sending this to our cowardly, free speech suppressing leaders? That includes the police who are collecting the names of anyone who bought the Charlie Hebdo magazine.

  • emersonushc13

    Dear Leader says we should do nothing because of The Crusades.

  • G B

    It doesn’t really matter that the trouble is being caused by a fraction of the Muslim population. Many of the moderates privately agree and support the actions of these people, hence the silence. There will be war in Europe again and the catalyst will be the political ideology of Islam.

  • MikeF

    Do Femen believe in freedom of speech?

  • The Masked Marvel

    Has anyone said it was a false flag op yet?

  • Dodgy Geezer

    You know, Lars Vilks has had a fatwa placed on him for several years now. And that is why the Danish police are guarding him against attackers. But no one seems to go after the people who set the attack in motion…

    It seems to me that ‘placing a fatwa’ on someone would count, in the West, as straightforward conspiracy to murder. So why don’t the police extradite the person responsible and charge him?

    You may reply that the Muslim countries are very unlikely to enforce such a request. However, it also seems to me to me that inciting murder in this way is also prima facie terrorism. The Americans, at least, seem to have a swift way with that – they assassinate people they suspect (and any bystanders) with drone weapons without benefit of a trial. Or they send in a helicopter assassination team. I wonder why they don’t extend that courtesy to Muslim clerics who plot the death of other countries’ citizens?

  • BobSmith101

    Would you wear a T-shirt with a Charlie Hebdo cartoon printed on it?

    You might in Montana. Don’t try it in Mecca.


    Because, Islam trains a small number of its most devout believers it’s OK to kill. And Islamic killers have been trained to kill anyone who insults Allah and/or Mohammad.

    In Montana you’d have a good chance none of these Islamic killers would see you.

    In Mecca you wouldn’t last five minutes. One of Islam’s killers would come from out of nowhere and kill you. It is that simple.

    You don’t believe me? Ask any Muslim!

    Read why Islam is the way it is at:

    • Conway

      A small number? The koran exhorts ALL faithful to kill the infidel. It’s a holy duty to wage jihad. Those who stay at home are worth less than those who go off and fight.

      • red2black

        Maybe that’s the extremists’ weakness. They aren’t representative of the majority, which is usually the case.

  • Richard

    They can kill all of us. There are enough of them living in our countries now. The problem isn’t them – they are what they are, only a fool tries to pretend they aren’t – it’s us. If you let foxes into a rabbit-hutch, what do you think is going to happen?

  • MacGuffin

    I am more frightened of the ‘Root Cause Analysts’ and ‘Understanders’ than I am of the gun-toting Islamists.

  • roccolore

    George Galloway and his Muslim friends must be proud of themselves.

    • WFC

      Tch tch. Get with the times.

      What is clear beyond doubt is that it is Islam which is the main victim of these … erm … completely motiveless attacks by a mentally deranged lone wolf.

      As we keep telling you, the real problem is the Islamaphobic backlash which … erm … seems to be behind schedule.

      • roccolore

        There is no “Islamophobia”. It’s just Muslims acting like babies.

  • ‘ere we go

    George Galloway was vociferous on “Question Time” to make a clear distinction between Israel (bad) and Jewish (good). Then at a university debate he walked out when he discovered one participating student was Israeli.
    Evidently Muslim/Islamic (both good) terrorists (protestors?) do not fuss about any such fine distinction. Any Jewish place of worship is a target for them.
    Walk towards the light G.G. if you still dare show your face.

    • Fasdunkle

      not all Israelis though – he supports anti-semites such as Raed Salah

      • Penny

        A very good point.

    • Richard

      Look, he has to please his voters, or he’s out of a job. Labour is the same. There is no honour in politics.

    • The Masked Marvel

      Isreal-supporting Jews anywhere in the world are also “bad”. The only “good” Jew is the one who publicly denounces Israel. Can’t be anti-Semitic if one avers there are “good” Jews, right?

  • WFC

    Something missing from this story.

    Didn’t the killer yell something? Was it “give peace a chance”?

    Or was it something else? An Arabic phrase usually translated as meaning “nothing to see here”, perhaps?

  • yyarko

    I fail to understand what is so “controversial” about Lars Vilks.
    The fact that some religious fanatics find his caricatures offensive does not mean he should be considered “controversial” by the western media, who is supposedly supportive of free speech, does it?

    • will91

      Excellent point, it’s just like Geert Wilders who is smeared every-time by the mainstream media as “the far-right Dutch politician”. So far out on the far-right extreme fringe that his party is the third biggest in parliament.

      Indeed on most issues he takes up a fairly typical “Euro-socialist” position. The only thing about Geert is he’s not shy on publicly stating his views on the muslim population. Again even this shouldn’t be seen as that controversial given that a poll revealed that 57% of Dutch people believed mass immigration to be the biggest single mistake in Dutch history.

      • WFC

        To the modern LLC political and media establishment, any politician who tells the truth – especially those who insist on telling the truth in an intelligible and attractive manner – is considered to be “far right”.

      • AverageGuyInTheStreet

        Wilders, that rare breed of politician who actually speaks the truth, and as you say pretty mainstream and centrist… but banned from Britain
        I think that tells us just how far down the toilet our country has been flushed.

        • hepworth

          Banned because “lord” Ahmed threatened 10,000 Muslims at the gates of parliament if Wilders was allowed to speak.

          • Joe Williams

            There really were thousands of protesting muslims in Whitehall last Sunday, participating in a few hours of ritualistic chest-beating & the usual threats to the ‘infidel’. Of course, they were strictly segregated according to gender. When they weren’t hollering for vengeance, they were trampling all over the Cenotaph.
            The BBC totally ignored it – not a squeak anywhere. I’m told that ITV & Sky followed suit. This is how it’s going to be as the baleful presence of the RoP casts a larger, darker shadow.
            This link was still up earlier today, may have gone by now. You may not like the messengers, but the message is undeniable.

    • Damaris Tighe

      We’ve been told that he drew M as a dog but that’s not completely true. Apparently the Swedes have sculptures of dogs on most of their roundabouts & the cartoon depicted M as one of these. Not that it matters …

  • Ted Bishop

    Having just watched the BBC The Big Question on TV about arming the Police with Tazers I am astounded by the absolute ignorance and stupidity of many people on this show who failed to address what is the real issue or Bear in the room of why Tazers should be issued to Police and that is Islamist terrorists. Those in the audience of the left leaning PC brigade, one Labour MP and an ex Police Superintendant who is the now head or near the top of the Black Police Officers Association (BPOA) seem oblivious to what is taking place int he world. It seems that in the light of what occurred in Paris and last night in Denmark these people are being intentionally stupid or acting like they are Ostriches about what is the main concern an attack on a lone Police Officer by Islamist JIhadists who have avowed to behead them. Even the chap from BPOA who you would think would understand front line Policing thinks that the 15 minutes it took for armed Police Officers to turn up to the outrage of the Lee Rigby killing was acceptable because it would be far worse allowing Police Officers who are attacked to beheaded to have a Tazer as it might heighten tensions with the yoof of an area. I bet the fool would not have said that if the two men had AK47s and were shooting but then his type would not be anywhere near the front line, yet he would deny an electronic device that could save an officer or others from being beheaded on the streets of the UK in case the yoof don’t like it.

    The Labour MP thickly spouted that we never had these issues with IRA yet the IRA thugs were not the type who would attack a city as a team of heavily armed AK47, grenade throwing people shooting down and chasing down as many people many people as they could wishing only to be killed as they mass kill inncnet people. These left fools are condemning unarmed Police Officer targetted by Islamist killers to death, shame on him. Again the BBC seemed to pack out the audience with left wingers and these people would be the first to complain if Police did not stop armed terrorists who attacked a town without a fast response. I wonder if the BPOA rep would be happy for his 15-60 minutes depending where in the UK an outrage takes place. If a lone unarmed Polcie Officer was beheaded I doubt they would shed a tear, maybe balming tham for being out of syc with society but wanting them att he scene protecting them ASAP. There is a serious disconnect from rational, logical thinking people who know of the threats as opposed to the left wing agenda that sees arming lone police with Tazers will lead to riots. No wonder the country is f…ed.

    • Conway

      BPOA? Think of the uproar if there were a WPOA!

  • hepworth

    Somebody like Ladbrooks should open a book on which of our “betters” will be the first to utter the words..”Nothing to do with Islam”.
    I bet Dave would be hot favourite.

    • Alexandrovich

      It’s been exposed as laughable so I’m not sure you’ll hear it anytime soon.
      What I did hear this morning though was the dusted-down ‘lone wolf’.

      • WFC

        The chief cop in Copenhagen is reported to have said “we don’t know the motive for these attacks”.

      • hepworth

        Just wait. It’ll come out.

  • AlexanderGalt

    The government has closed down free speech and made protesting Islamism illegal. The so called Prevent Strategy will tighten the screws on freedom of expression even more defining both terrorists and those who warn of terrorists equally as “extremists”.

    What remains to do for somebody who’s not prepared to see their country disappear
    without a fight?

    There’s a good analysis of the coming war at: