(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/07/Brussels-1-Steyn.gif)Mark Steyn introduces Lars Hedegaard (photo ©Snaphanen).
Editor’s note: Below is a report of the July 9th International Conference for Free Speech and Human Rights, held in Brussels, Belgium. A video compilation of event highlights follows the report.
I had the great pleasure of taking part in the International Conference for Free Speech and Human Rights on July 9, 2012 at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, sponsored by the International Civil Liberties Alliance. Representatives of 18 countries, the majority being from Europe but with the participation of Coptic Christians from Egypt as well as former Muslims, met to discuss the ongoing Islamization of Europe and the Western world and how to preserve our basic civil liberties.
Sabatina James, a young woman who left Islam for Christianity, told the audience her story, about how her family threatened to kill her. She now lives under witness protection. The punishment for leaving Islam is death, according to sharia law.
MEP Magdi Allam, an Egyptian apostate who now lives in Italy, converted to Christianity and was baptized during the 2008 Easter Vigil service in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He, too, spoke at the conference.
(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/07/Brussels-5-del-Valle1.gif)Author Alexandre del Valle (photo ©Snaphanen).
We heard Gavin Boby from the Law and Freedom Foundation in Britain, plus such interesting people as Alain Wagner and Alexandre del Valle from France, Conny Axel Meier and Christian Jung from Germany and the Syrian Catholic bishop Father Samuel.
(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/07/Brussels-6-Pere-Samuel.gif)Pére Samuel Bishop in the Syrian-Catholic Church (photo ©Snaphanen).
The courageous Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff from Austria has been prosecuted as a criminal for “hate speech” for pointing out that Islam’s founder Muhammad, according to Islamic texts, had sex with a 9-year-old child, Aisha. She talked about how free speech is currently under pressure in many European countries.
(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/07/Brussels-7-Declaration.gif)Ned May and Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff read the Brussels Declaration (photo ©Snaphanen).
Among the highlights of the conference were the presentation and signing of the 2012 Brussels Declaration, a foundational document to defend freedom of speech and civil liberties, and the presentation of the Defender of Freedom Award by Canadian-born author and political humorist Mark Steyn to Lars Hedegaard, founder of the Danish Free Press Society and the International Free Press Society. Together with Ingrid Carlqvist, President of the newly formed (and desperately needed) Swedish Free Press Society, there was further talk of launching a new newspaper in multiple languages as an alternative to our deeply flawed mainstream media.
(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/07/Brussels-2-Hedegaard-Wagner.gif)Lars Hedegaard and Alain Wagner (photo ©Snaphanen).
I was happy to meet Mark Steyn in person for the first time. He is just as funny in real life as he is in writing. Steyn has a special talent for talking about serious subjects with a humorous twist, which has earned him a large audience in a number of countries.
One of the first things he asked me about was whether I had any socks today. This was obviously a reference to the fact that Norwegian police confiscated some of my socks in August 2011 when they ransacked my flat in response to the Breivik case. I don’t know why they needed my terrorist socks, but it’s always a pleasure to help out the police. They were kind enough to give them back to me after 100 days in police custody. I then posted a photo of some of them at the Gates of Vienna website under the heading “Sock and Awe.”
It was a positive surprise to see how many people showed up. The last time I was in Brussels was for the Counterjihad conference in October 2007, also held at the European Parliament. It took us a few minutes to locate it again, but you know it’s an EU building because it’s big, expensive, ugly and useless. If I had my way, the entire European Parliament would be dismantled and replaced by Gisèle Littman Square, supplemented by the Eurabia Museum for the victims of 1400 years of Islamic Jihad.
A few blocks away, the Berlaymont building houses the headquarters of the European Commission, the unelected government for half a billion people that is systematically dismantling political liberty and democratic accountability from the Black Sea to the North Sea. It, too, deserves to be dismantled.
Some of the same individuals were present at this conference as well, with others missing, and plenty of new faces added since 2007. Among the familiar faces was Nidra Poller, an American author and journalist who has lived in Paris for forty years, writing for major publications such as The Wall Street Journal or The Jerusalem Post.
One of the voices we missed was David Littman, the husband of Gisèle Littman, or Bat Ye’or. One minute of silence was held to honor the memory of David Littman, who died in May 2012 after a protracted illness.
(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/07/Brussels-3-Jansen.gif)Prof. Hans Jansen (photo ©Snaphanen).
I’ve heard Hans Jansen, retired Professor of Modern Islamic Thought at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, speak several times in the past. He always impresses his audience with his immense knowledge. In his new speech he reminded us that “Sharia includes a large number of provisions about people who are not Muslims. These rules are usually prohibitions that carry severe penalties if violated. These provisions of the Sharia make life unsafe and uncertain for someone who lives under Sharia law and who is not a Muslim. Under Sharia law, someone who is not a Muslim possesses no inalienable rights. If I am wrong here, I will be relieved, and happy to stand corrected and receive your e-mails pointing out why I am wrong. But if I am right, a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay possesses more rights than a Jew or a Christian who lives under Sharia law. Unlike the legal systems of most modern nation states, Sharia law is not subject to democratic supervision. Like international law and rabbinic law, Sharia law is an academic affair: experts discuss and debate the rules until they reach an agreement.”
Professor Jansen emphasized that Islamic sharia law does not emerge from a parliament that acts as legislator, but its rules come into being by being agreed upon by legal experts. Sharia law is in this way somewhat similar to international law as embodied in institutions such as the EU. As international law demonstrates, communities of academic specialists, in their isolation, have a tendency to develop a degree of pedantry that an elected lawgiver could never afford. Up to a point, this is what has happened to sharia.
Allowing sharia, or a part of it, to be the law of the land in a Western nation will diminish the democratic character of that nation. It means giving away legislative power to unelected self-appointed men, who are unknown and anonymous and operate from far-away mosques in Pakistan or Egypt.
Jansen also noted that we are supposed to see “Islamophobia,” fear of Islam, as something bad that must be combated at all costs. Yet the Koran commands that Muslims should make the world fear Islam. Islamophobia is thus in perfect accordance with the Koran itself.
Although many of the speeches can be inspiring at a conference like this one, socializing between the breaks and after the conference can be equally useful. This time I was lucky enough to share a dinner table with Professor Hans Jansen afterwards. A modest man of great intelligence, he turned out to be a fan of the magnificent tenor Jussi Björling, born in Dalarna, Sweden. Björling appeared for many years at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and European opera houses such as the Royal Opera House in London and La Scala in Milan. In 1931, Jussi Björling had a breakthrough outside Sweden with a recital at the Copenhagen Tivoli. He continued to perform in Sweden between seasons at the Metropolitan and made his last recital at Skansen in Stockholm on 20 August 1960.
Paul Weston, the Chairman of the British Freedom Party, was unable to attend in Brussels this time. Tommy Robinson, the joint vice-chairman of BF, spoke in his
(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/07/Brussels-4-Tommy-Robinson.gif)Tommy Robinson (Stephen Lennon) of the British Freedom Party (photo ©Snaphanen).
stead. He warned that Islam rules by fear and intimidation. If you show any sign of weakness they will run all over you. He encouraged people to stand up to Islamic intimidation and not give in to fear. The next generation will never forgive us if we do nothing now.
A hostile observer claimed that Robinson looked “sweaty and nervous.” That’s not true. He delivered a passionate speech that received standing ovations and was interrupted by spontaneous applause multiple times.
After the meeting was concluded, Richard Howitt, a Socialist Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from England, demanded an investigation after so-called right-wingers allegedly “hijacked” the parliament’s facilities for a “hate” meeting involving people such as Tommy Robinson from the English Defence League (EDL).
Howitt challenged the European Parliament to probe what he called this “mis-use” of its premises, adding that “I have written to the president of parliament to complain about the use of our facilities to raise funds for such hate organisations.” For the record: No organization, neither the EDL nor any other group, engaged in fund-raising at the conference. Howitt’s statement was an absolute falsehood.
Richard Howitt has been a member of the Labour Party’s policy-making National Policy Forum since 1994 in Britain. On his own website, he states that among his main priorities are “using EU powers to fight discrimination and promote equality in all fields” and to work for the full EU membership of Muslim Turkey. He represents the true face of Eurabia.
The EU Parliament’s current president is Martin Schulz, a German career Socialist of over four decades who since 2004 has been the leader of the Socialists in the European Parliament.
As Lars Hedegaard commented dryly, MEP Richard Howitt is happy to meet with Muslim supporters of terrorism, but he wants peaceful supporters of liberty to be rejected by the European Parliament. Howitt has accepted visitors associated with the terrorist organization Hamas. Besides, the facilities had been made available for this meeting in a perfectly legal manner by the Belgian MEP Philip Claeys.
What impressed me the most about the audience at the event is that a depressingly large proportion of those who attended have experienced demonization in the press, sometimes legal harassment or had their careers impeded because of their politically incorrect activities. This clampdown on those who protest against Islam, mass immigration and Multiculturalism may well grow even worse in the future, as problems pile up and those most responsible for creating these problems in the first place look for some convenient scapegoats to blame for their mistakes.
Many of those who attended knew fully well that they might be targeted with more personal attacks and hate campaigns from the forces of Islam and their Western apologists, but they nevertheless remained steadfast in their commitment to this work. I have been continuously impressed by the dedication and personal courage these individuals and groups have displayed for years. They continue, despite the high personal costs.
I talked to a couple of friends after the meeting had been concluded. We agreed that it had been a major success. More people attended this meeting than any other since the previous Brussels meeting in 2007, and many of them were intelligent and highly motivated individuals from different countries. That displays real passion and determination.
One of my friends suggested that these people might be mentioned in the history books 50 years from now, and in a more positive manner than they are talked about in the mass media now. I’m not sure whether this is true, but you never know. It’s more interesting making history than reading about it.
All in all, I left Brussels with a renewed sense of optimism. I saw a lot of quiet courage on display. Those who participated knew that we have a large and growing proportion of the European public behind us. People are fed-up with being told lies about the alleged wonders of mass immigration and multiculturalism when our cities are sinking beyond the control of our laws and numerous suburbs no longer form a part of European civilization. They know that they are being lied to when their mass media and politicians claim that Islam is a religion of peace and a natural part of European civilization. It is not, never has been and never will be so.
The tide of public anger and frustration with dishonest political elites who no longer represent our best interests is rising. The ruling elites are trying to stem this rising tide through “racism” charges, intimidation and “hate speech” laws. This will only work for a while. Eventually, reality will catch up with them.
We will win this in the end, but the struggle could become longer and harder than most of us would like before this is over.
Brussels Conference Highlights:
All photos ©Snaphanen.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.