Saturday, June 11, 2005

Arrest in Fire Attack Case 

Headline from Politiken: 34-årig sigtet for attentat mod Rikke Hvilshøj ("34-year-old charged with attack against Rikke Hvilshøj").

Roskilde police have arrested and charged a 34-year-old man from Østerbro with the fire attack earlier this week. He denies his guilt. The police will be holding a press conference on the case later today.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Suspect Cleared 

And so much for the man seen fleeing the scene: Efterlyst for brandattentat er renset for mistanke ("Sought [man] in fire attack cleared as suspect").

Police wouldn't say what the guy was doing running around the neighborhood at 2:45 am. But as one who's done his share of running around 2:45 am (more accurately stumbling around), I can appreciate their discretion.

Cybertrail to Nowhere 

So much for the computer from the Surf & Play cafe: Ingen spor på beslaglagt computer ("No clues on seized computer").

The police say they'll keep working with the computer, but they're not anticipating any great finds.

All's (sort of) Quiet... 

The police are being quiet about the investigation, according to Politiken, but there's news about the investigation all over the place. I just saw a segment on "Go' Morgen Danmark" in which the text of the activist arsonist's letter was deconstructed. (Conclusion: the author was probably a well-educated Dane. The same case is made in this Jyllands Posten article.)

The authorities have the hard-drive and computer from which the letter was sent at the Surf & Play internet cafe) in custody. They have reports of a young man (16-25 years of age, 160-180 cm tall) running away from the scene in the moments after the first flames were seen (at 2:45 am). He's not being called a suspect, but he's very much wanted for questioning.

Police are asking the public to cooperate, and are especially interested in hearing about people with recently singed eyebrows.

Politicians of every stripe have condemned the attack.

The last thing I want to mention has less to do with the case than with a curious couple of articles in Politiken. In an article yesterday, they reported that support for the fire attack had been voiced on several "alternative" Danish websites. They named two particular sites. I visited them (here's one), saw the support, and also noticed the posts from Politiken journalists trolling for more communication from the Beate Unlimited firebug, his group, or friends thereof (like this one).

Today Politiken ran an article headlined "Ulovligt at udtrykke støtte til brandattenat ("Illegal to express support for fire attack"), in which they explained that supporting attacks on representatives of the government was a punishable offense.

You almost expect to see the headline end with "...Suckas!"

I haven't seen or heard any news about the Doorman case, Jaguar, or Jared Heller in the past couple of days. But a friend told me a very interesting story about his experience yesterday outside the Chinese Embassy... maybe later.

(But maybe not: I do these little morning posts while Molli does her morning play routine beside me. We're pretty busy the rest of the day. She's stopped pushing her walk-wagon back and forth across the living room, so maybe it's finally time for her waaaay overdue nap...)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Arguments Against Cultural Relativism: #1 

It's probably not the first argument against cultural relativism that leaps to mind, but I've just decided to start keeping track so let's call this number one:

Zulfa thought he had introduced his proposal tactfully as part of an uncontroversial debate on road safety [in Saudi Arabia].

He argued that lifting the ban on women drivers could resolve what he considers to be a serious social problem - the presence of about one million foreign drivers needed to enable Saudi women to move around.

So the proposal to let women drive has to be introduced as measure to get foreign drivers off the road. "We're not sexist, we're xenophobic!" Lovely.

And the picture accompanying the article? "Veiled women take part in a protest in Pakistan against Qu'ran abuse at the US military camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Mohammad Zubair, AP)"

I'm not sure what the connection is between getting the Saudi DMV out of the dark ages and women in Pakistan protesting a bogus report of the Koran getting a swishy in Cuba. Both have to do with Islam? Both deal with women? Neither has anything to do with Michael Jackson? Seriously, what's the connection? It's kind of insulting, isn't it?

"What should we run for a photo in the Saudi-women-behind-the-wheel story, boss?"

"Ah, who cares. There's gotta be a shot of a veiled Muslim chick somewhere in the archives."

"I got one... but it's from Pakistan."

"Run it. One veiled chick's as good as another..."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Surprise, Surprise 

One last article: Mail efter brand-attentat sendt fra Nørrebro ("Mail After Fire Attack Sent from Nørrebro").

Cops have traced the email back to the "Surf & Play" net cafe in Inner Nørrebro and have investigated the scene. There were no security cameras and the owner remembers nothing of relevance to the investigation, but they did get fingerprints and other clues to the identity of the Borderless Beate.

The Beate Goes... Boom? 

Earlier today the very self-same Integration Minister quoted in a previous post had his car blown up by a group that calls itself the "Borderless Beate Action Group."

(Politiken offers an inset explanation of the name that identifies 'Beate' as either a famous Nazi war-criminal hunter or the head of the EU Racism Observation group.)

The group took credit for the act of arson—which destroyed Integration Minister Rikki Hvilshøj's car and carport, and reached the house itself before being extinguished by the minister's family—in a letter sent from a yahoo.com account to various Danish media outlets. Here's the letter in full, as reported by Politiken:

DK: »Vi vil ikke undskylde – vi vil handle«, hedder det i meddelelsen, som fortsætter:

»I protest mod Danmarks flygtningepolitik har vi sat ild til integrations- og flygtningeminister Rikke Hvilshøjs bil ved hendes hjem Svanemosen 47, Greve.

I et skamløst hykleri har Fogh undskyldt den danske stats udlevering af jøder på flugt fra Nazi-Tyskland. Denne opportunistiske undskyldning er faldet på et tidspunkt, hvor 1940 flygtninge afventer udsendelse fra Danmark.

Vi vil ikke passivt se til, mens det officielle Danmark udøver sin racistiske flygtningepolitik. Derfor handler vi nu!«.

EN: "We will not apologize — we will act," says the message, which continues:

"In protest against Denmarks refugee politics, we have set fire to the Integration and Refugee Minister Rikke Hvilshøj's car at her home on 47 Svanemosen [street], in Greve.

"In a shameless hypocrisy, [Prime Minister Anders] Fogh [Rasmussen] has apologized for the Danish state's delivery of Jews fleeing Nazi-Germany. That opportunistic apology fell at a time when 1940 refugees are awaiting sending-out from Denmark.

[This last sentence is probably badly translated because it makes little sense—but I can't rule out the possibility that the original message itself didn't make perfect sense, so I'm not going to agonize over it. Sorry, but I'm in a hurry. My best guess is that 1940 is the number of immigrants currently awaiting deportation, not the year of arrival of certain Jewish immigrants awaiting deportation.]

"We will not look on passively while official Denmark exercises its racist refugee politics. Therefore we act now!"

So today's news gives us the Danish immigration problem in a nutshell: on the one hand, whacked-out Middle Eastern immigrants who want to bring tribal blood-feud practices to the streets of Copenhagen. On the other, whacked-out activists who consider any impediment to open immigration an overt act of racism, and are prepared to use violence to make their point. That's quite a tightrope the government has to walk on immigration: Too restrictive and cars get blown up. Too lax and you've got Sharia law in Nørrebro.

* * *

Wait... I said blood money before without linking to the Blood Money trailer I worked on.

And I'm proud to announce I got my test results from the reading and writing portion of the Prøve i Dansk 3 exam, and I scored an 11 and 10, respectively. That'd be an A and an A- in America. That's important because it means I can get a D on my orals in two weeks and still get a decent average. And it means you can trust my translations just a little more than I thought you could.

Nørrebro Diplomacy 

From today's Politiken: Truet familie fra Nørrebro klar til at indgå fredsaftale (Threatened Family from Nørrebro Ready to Enter Peace Agreement).

This is the closest to "peace in our time" I've actually seen in my adult lifetime. The story goes like this: the doorman in question has apparently got some kind of history with this particular crowd of "second-generation immigrant" thugs. They decide they're going to "teach him a lesson." They show up en masse to the place where he works as a doorman and provoke a scene by (among other things) trying to rip down the cafe's surveillance camera. The doorman responds with gunfire, thereby killing one of the thugs. He also wounds one of the other thugs, who happens to be the brother of the killed thug. While in police custody at a Copenhagen hospital, the wounded thug is sprung from the joint by a mob of hooded thugs. Word on the street has now gone out that the doorman's family is no longer welcome in Copenhagen. The threat, sometimes implied and sometimes stated, is that the relatives of the dead and injured thugs will exact bloody revenge on the family of the doorman thug.

Fares El-Jahim, the Islamic Faith's point-man on the issue, now explains that "The father of the slain man has now told us through a middle-man that if the killer [doorman] and his family leave Copenhagen, there will be peace."

The killer is in custody and probably won't have much control over his choice of residence for quite a while. But his family are not in custody—for the peculiar reason of not having committed a crime. This seems to be lost on Fares El-Jahim, the people of the Islamic Faith, and the thugs they "represent."

Fares El-Jahim nevertheless believes that the agreement (for the doorman's family to be run out of town on the proverbial rail) will be "a good solution."

"If the family of the slain man continues to see the doorman and his family on the street, it will easily lead to violence and revenge. Both families live in Nørrebro. With this solution we can put the brakes on the conflict."

The journalist then asks the obvious question, "Is it acceptable to administer an extra punishment upon the doorman from outside the judicial system? First he presumably gets a sentence, and then he and his family should have to leave Copenhagen, where they've lived many years?"

El-Jahim replies with some dextrous logic: "Incarceration is a punishment for the lawless things he has done. But moving away isn't about punishment, but to avoid having some of the victim's family members or friends shoot the doorman and his family down on the street. If the doorman and his family stay in residence, there'd be no guarantee that it wouldn't happen."

In other words: since the thugs I represent in my role as a religious spokesperson would be unable to restrain their violent bloodlust for revenge, the probable targets of that bloodlust should get themselves out of harm's way.

Look, the doorman is in jail. He's up on murder charges and is almost certainly going to get a hefty prison term. In countries governed by the rule of law, vigilante revenge is illegal. The very threat implied here strikes me as noxious and intolerable.

The article cites two sentencing experts who seem to agree with me in concluding that such an agreement would be illegal. Gorm Toftegaard Nielsen, a professor at Aarhus University, explains: "In a lawful state one must not be threatened into an agreement."

But Fares El-Jahim of the Islamic Faith points out that "the victim's family isn't threatening anyone."

"It's a suggestion about making sure that the two families don't coincidentally see each other on the street, because if they do, it could lead to new unrest," he says.


But "pre-emptive exile" isi apparently just a counter offer. The original offer was more pecuniary, as an older story (Justice Minister: Blood Money is a Crazy Notion) makes clear.

Apparently last Friday imam Abu Laban suggested that the family of the doorman could make amends and prevent future bloodshed by paying the victim's family 200,000 crowns in "bloodmoney" (blodpenge). The suggestion earned swift condemnation from both the Justice and the Integration Ministers. The Integration Minister called it "wholly and completely unacceptable," and the Justice Minister (obviously) called it "crazy." (The actual word used was vanvittig: mad, insane, crazy.)

The Danish People's Party went even further:

Partiets folketingsmedlem Søren Krarup beskylder imamen for ond vilje med forslaget.

»Det er et ganske bevidst forsøg på at islamisere hovedstaden«, siger Søren Krarup.

The party's member of parliament Søren Krarup accuses the imam of bad will with the suggestion.

"It's a really obvious attempt to Islamicize the capital," says Søren Krarup.

That's probably overstating things, as at least one "immigrant consultant," Fahmy Almajid, also opposed the notion of bloodmoney:

While bloodmoney is a known phenomenon in the Middle East, the demand to exile the doorman isn't a part of normal practice.

"Bloodmoney is well-known, regardless whether it's paid in cows, camels, or cash. But there is no precedent for expelling a family or tribe from a specific area," says Fahmy Almajid.

The fact of the matter is, it doesn't matter what the Middle Eastern precedent is. We're not in the Middle East. We're in the middle of northern Europe, in a constitutional monarchy with a social-democratic tradition. The law is paramount.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Steep Grades 

I'm on my wife's computer, rooting around the Danish media sites for more info on interesting recent developments in the Nørrebro doorman shooting while my daughter vandalizes the living room, and I was struck by the prominence Politiken has given the release of Senator Kerry's military records—particularly the part of those records that included his Yale transcript. Right now it's one of the lead stories on their site:

Kerry og Bush havde samme gennemsnit på universitetet
Kerry and Bush Had Same Average at University

In fact, their averages weren't the same: Bush's was 77 and Kerry's was 76. But it requires a sophisticated appreciation of nuance to grasp such a fine distinction.

Of course, since we all know Bush has the lowest IQ of any president in American history, then we ought to marvel at the work ethic that allowed him to outperform the genius-level IQ of John Kerry.

I know, I know, it's all crap. I barely graduated high school—I failed math and science my junior year—and then ran a barely-passing average for three semesters at Carnegie-Mellon's acting conservatory before dropping out. Anyone looking at those 5 1/2 years of grades would be right to conclude I was an incorrigible fuck-up. And though they'd be right about the fuck-up part, they'd be wrong about the incorrigibility: I went back to school a few years later and maintained an almost perfect average straight through until I got my degree. I think the technical term for my academic career is "a really late bloomer."

Whatever you think of their politics, I think it's safe to say Bush and Kerry were also late bloomers. Partisans will probably want to joke about how the other guy still hasn't bloomed, or how their own guy bloomed better, but the bottom line is the bottom line: two half-assed Yalies from the 60s were their party's presidential nominees in 2004. One remains a U.S. Senator, the other is now a two-term president. It's pretty obvious neither one is a slacker. Does this crap really belong on the front pages, even in America?

More on Nørrebro later, Molli permitting(and assuming I manage to post the almost-finished Almanac)...

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