THE ASSASSIN AT THE DOOR: LARS HEDEGAARD *****
A police psychologist has told me that after an attempt on your life, things may appear somewhat fuzzy. After a while details of what happened may all of a sudden become clear as you remember more and more of this most distressing occurrence.That hasn’t been my experience. What took place on Tuesday, Feb. 5, is as clear and vivid to me now as it was seconds after it happened.
Shortly after 11 a.m., I was preparing to leave my apartment for the half-hour commute to my newspaper office in Malmo, Sweden, when the door-phone buzzed. The phone doesn’t work properly—I can hear that I have visitors but not communicate with them. Nor can I buzz them in.
I opened a window in my apartment to see who was down below at the front door. A man dressed in a red jacket with the logo of the Danish postal service was waiting at the door. He said he had a package for me. I answered that I couldn’t buzz open the door and would instead come downstairs to get the package.
I went down and opened the front door. The man repeated that he had a package, which he handed to me. As I held the package (which the police later determined was empty), he immediately pulled out a gun and fired at my head.
The distance between us must have been less than a yard. Nevertheless, he missed. He then proceeded to fumble with the gun in order to cock it for a second shot. I swung my right fist at his head, and my action confused him sufficiently for him to drop the gun. After a scuffle, he recovered the gun but couldn’t make it fire. He then fled.
Regrettably, he managed to run off with the gun. The police found a bullet hole in the wall and a cartridge.
I judged my attacker to be around 25 years old and either an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants—most probably from an Arab country or possibly Pakistan. He spoke Danish with no accent.
Since the attempted murder, I have been living under police protection and, as I am 70 years old, will most likely have to do so for the rest of my life.
Despite intensive efforts—the Copenhagen police have set a special 20-man task force to deal with the case—no arrest has been made and consequently no motive can be established.
However, everybody who has commented on the incident has assumed that the motive is political. Some people don’t like what I have been saying or writing in recent years, and they want to silence me. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what may have spurred the gunman or those who may have sent him.
For years I have been a campaigner for free speech—since 2004 as president of Denmark’s Free Press Society. I have been an outspoken critic of Islamic supremacism and of attempts to impose Islamic Shariah law in Denmark and the West. Together with my Swedish colleague Ingrid Carlqvist, I have recently launched a Swedish-language weekly newspaper called Dispatch International—to the great dissatisfaction of the Swedish mainstream media, which are probably the most politically correct in the Western world and are in absolute agreement on every issue of any consequence.
Dispatch International is critical of mass immigration to Sweden and Denmark from third-world countries and takes a dim view of Islam. As a consequence, we have been reviled as “racist.” We are not. We simply insist on our right to defend freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and individual and sexual equality. We also insist on our right to criticize religious fanatics of every stripe who try to impose theocratic laws and customs on free societies.
When I was a young Marxist during the 1960s and ’70s, these opinions used to be described as characteristic of the political left. Nowadays the defenders of such positions are routinely labeled as right-wing or as belonging to the “extreme right.” Meanwhile, what used to be the left is cozying up to holy men who want adulterous women to be stoned, homosexuals to be hanged, apostates from Islam to be killed, and 1,200-year-old laws emanating from somewhere in the Arabian desert to replace our free constitutions.
In my home country of Denmark, the reaction to the failed murder has mainly been one of horror. Nearly all leading politicians and media have condemned it. To be sure, some newspapers have availed themselves of this opportunity to emphasize what a despicable racist I am, but at least they express their satisfaction that I’m not dead.
Not so in Sweden, where I work most of the time. The Swedish media have either hinted that I have invented the incident in order to set myself up as a martyr—which would have required a major conspiracy involving the Danish police and Security Service—or they seem disappointed that my delivery man was not a better marksman.
Unfortunately, the attempt on my life is one in a wave of political assassinations or attempted assassinations that has swept Europe since Ayatollah Khomeini issued his so-called fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989. Some have been killed—among them the Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn and Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Others, like writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, have been forced to flee Europe or go into hiding.
I am determined not to be silenced, come what may. I refuse to live in a world ruled by the gun.
Mr. Hedegaard, a journalist and historian, is the founder of the International Free Press Society and editor in chief of Dispatch International.
A version of this article appeared February 21, 2013, on page A15 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Assassin at the Door.
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