“Indefensible that Stang will be present at the rally against the Muhammad movie”
The Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang (H), should focus on defending free speech in stead of participating in a rally against the Muhammad movie, says Christian Tybring-Gjedde [FRP – Progress Party].
On Friday afternoon the Islamic Council of Norway organized a rally against the movie “The Innocence of Muslims” which has led to violent riots in numerous countries during the last few days.
The Islamic Council condemns what they call a hate video and “agree with Muslims’ condemnation and indignation about the film’s content and message.”
However, the Council urges all Muslims to remain calm. The council is staging the rally “in solidarity against the insult.”
“Caves in to meaningless criticism”
The mayor of Oslo Fabian Stang [Høyre — Conservatives] held an appeal at the rally, something which the leader of the Progress Party in Oslo strongly dislikes.
“I find it absolutely reprehensible that the Mayor of Oslo would take part in such a pointless rally. Whatever he says there will be a legitimization of the demonstration and the right of Muslims to feel resentment and rage,” Christian Tybring-Gjedde tells Aftenposten’s online newspaper, aftenposten.no.
He believes that the mayor leaves himself wide open to criticism by attending the rally. “The video is pretty bad, but that’s beside the point. What we really should do is ignore this matter. What we are doing now is to open ourselves wide open to pointless collective criticism. We should never apologize for using our freedom of speech,” says the FRP leader.
“Police in the mosque is a defeat”
Tybring-Gjedde emphasizes that Muslims and everybody else should be allowed to demonstrate against whatever they want. “But the fact that mayors attend a rally against free speech is disgraceful. What he should do is to stand up for freedom of expression,” says Tybring-Gjedde.
He is highly skeptical of the fact that the police last week addressed the congregation of a mosque in connection with the riots
“It is in itself a genuflection, but at least they did it out of safety concerns. That is not the case with Stang,” says Tybring-Gjedde.
Stang: Great manifestation of freedom of speech
Unlike Tybring-Gjedde, Fabian Stang believes that the demonstration is a “tribute to freedom of expression.”
“I see today’s events as a great manifestation of the freedom that we have in Norway. Here we have a group who wish to express their feelings about this film,” says Stang to aftenposten.no.
Stang intended to say something about freedom of speech, that it is OK to be angry, but that it is unacceptable to react with violence to expressions. There was never a question about whether he should attend or not.
“It is my understanding that the purpose of the rally is to reject meeting hate speech with violence. But if some want to abuse this event to act violently or to throw stones or whatever it may be, then of course I will strongly condemn it,” says Stang.
“What do you think of the criticism from Tybring-Gjedde?”
“In the words of Voltaire: ‘I will defend with my life his right to disagree with me.’ I will always defend Tybring-Gjedde’s right to express his opinions and I only wish that he would grant me the same generosity,” says Stang.
A group of radical Muslims called the Prophet’s Ummah will stage a rally outside the U.S. Embassy at the same time that the Islamic Council stage their rally in Youngstorget [Young’s Square – downtown Oslo].
The Observer also translated what Stang said at the rally, plus comments by a Norwegian bishop who attended the rally:
“Someone said that I really disagree with what you are saying, but I will defend with my life your right to say it. Unfortunately, there are some who abuse the freedom of expression to hurt the feelings of others. Such abject abuse must be met with courage and solidarity. It is understandable to react with anger and rage when what we hold dearest is mocked and humiliated. But we will never respond to such behavior with violence.”
Bishop Kvarme’s statement:
“Today we have gathered because we are upset, but also because we want to strengthen and protect the cohesion of our society. The filmmakers wanted to provoke and incite hatred, and unfortunately they have succeeded in doing that. Today, we stand together against such violations, but we also stand up against reactions that drag people into a spiral of violence and destruction,” he said.
For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.