Norwegian police have admitted that they were wrong to ask a local man to demolish the cartoons of Prophet Mohammed that he had hung in the city in response to the gruesome murder of a teacher in France.
A man in his forties, who wished to remain anonymous, printed caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed and hung them in the town of Kongsberg last week. He chose popular places like the local mall and cinema, as well as bus stops, to make sure the cartoons would be seen by as many people as possible.
The man explained to the public broadcaster NRK that he wanted to stress the importance of freedom of expression and that “Islam cannot enjoy special protection in a free society.” He added that he wanted a “An honest conversation about Islam without people being labeled racists and fascists.”
While the individual, who is also a father of young children, according to media reports, admitted that he wanted to see if the cartoons would cause a reaction from the police, he said he did not expect the four police officers come knocking on his door the very same day.
He told the NGO Human Rights Service that the police feared Muslims might be offended by the drawings. Officers claimed the posters were put up without a permit, so they ordered him to take them down and never do anything like that again, the man said. According to him, the police even threatened him with legal proceedings.
If I had hung posters of Karl Marx, Buddha or Jesus, would I have four police officers knocking on the door to ask for them to be taken down?
The man told media he grew up in the Middle East and such things shouldn’t happen “In a liberal democracy.”
Following the revelation of the story, Kongsberg Police Chief Havard Reva said he “regrets” that officers had arrived at the man’s residence and apologized. He admitted that the drawings alone could not serve as a reason to research who put them together.
“The police should not have advised him to remove the drawings. The natural thing in such situations is to have a request from the landowner who wants the designs removed. “ Reva told the Laagendalsposten newspaper.
On a related note, a senior regional police official, Oyvind Aas, told Aftenposten officers did not have the right to order the posters to be taken down, calling him “Real error.”
The police response elicited a backlash from politicians. MP and former Justice Minister Per-Willy Amundsen told local media that the Kongsberg man “Had really done nothing wrong in the legal sense”, while the actions of the officers were “On the verge of abuse of power.”
Before Kongsberg, cartoons depicting Mohammed had also appeared on the streets of Lillestrom, just outside the Norwegian capital Oslo, according to local media.
It happened after middle school teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded by a young Chechen refugee in France on October 16 for showing his class the cartoons of Mohammed as part of a lesson on free speech.
On Friday, someone erected Mohammed’s designs on the doors of the offices of two local newspapers in the Norwegian town of Roros and on a local store, prompting complaints to the police.
As President Trump roams the country like the energizing rabbit. Simultaneously sign historic Middle East peace accords, maintain a shattered economy, and push back the democratic subversion.
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