International Free Press Society
The International Free Press Society (IFPS), founded on January 1, 2009, is a creation of the Danish Free Press Society. The stated purpose of IFPS "is to defend freedom of expression wherever and by whomever it is threatened".
The IFPS was created as an extension of Free Press Society, Denmark, created in 2004 by Lars Hedegaard, a Danish newspaper commentator. According to its own account, the Free Press Society arose because of increasing pressure on free speech, including the Danish Cartoon crisis. The Free Press Society claims to be "Denmark´s biggest organisation exclusively devoted to defending the right of free expression." The society is closely connected to the counterjihad movement and in the article The Muslim Conspiracy and the Oslo Massacre Liz Fekete, the Executive Director of the independent educational charity named Institute of Race Relations, argues that it is an instrument for pushing the boundaries of hate speech.
The International Free Press Society has contact with a range of international critics of Islam who argue that islamisation threatens Freedom of Speech, including Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Daniel Pipes, Geert Wilders, Bruce Bawer and Henryk Broder. It also relays information from other sources, amongst which are the blogs Gates of Vienna and Jihad Watch, which have been characterised as islamophobic.
The Free Press Society, Denmark, among others, awarded Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard the Sappho Award, an award given to a 'journalist who combines excellence in his work with courage and a refusal to compromise'. His editor Flemming Rose is another recipient. As culture editor of Jyllands-Posten he commissioned the Muhammad cartoons, a move that resulted in the chief editor sending him on leave.
Muslim hate-speech case
On 22 December 2009 the Chairman of the Danish Free Press Society, and then member of the Danish People's Party, Lars Hedegaard, gave an interview in which he declared that Muslims "rape their own children. It is heard of all the time. Girls in Muslim families are raped by their uncles, their cousins or their fathers." He also stated that "Whenever it is prudent for a Muslim to hide his true intentions by lying or making a false oath in his own or in Islam’s service, then it is ok to do it."
Søren Krarup a fellow party member, said that Hedegaard's remarks were justified, though they could have been more "carefully" stated. He instead blamed the controversy on a "media mafia" whom he accused of distorting Hedegaard's statements. Søren Espersen defended Hedegaard's remarks. Others were more critical, and Hedegaard's interview led to the immediate resignation of three Free Press Society board members: Liberal Party MP Søren Pind the Conservative Party's Integration spokesman Naser Khader and the Lutheran priest Kathrine Lilleør. Vicechairman in the Integration Council in Aarhus Municipality Yilmaz Evcil reported Lars Hedegaard to the police, and the public attorney chose to make a case against him for violating the Danish anti-racism laws. His trial began January 24, 2011. He was acquitted of all charges on January 31, 2011 however the Eastern Regional Court reversed the acquittal in May of 2011. Ultimately, he appealed the verdict, and in 2012, the Supreme Court acquitted him in a 7-0 decision.
According to IFPS Policy Statement, the tasks of The International Free Press Society are many and varied. Among them:
- To serve as an international advocacy group for free speech
- To serve as an umbrella organization for Free Press Societies in different nations
- To collect, analyze and disseminate critical information
- To propose and coordinate countermeasures against threats to free speech
- To advise and inspire local and national groups and organizations in their defense of free speech
- To defend individuals or organizations that are being persecuted for having stood up for free speech
- To raise money for the above causes
The "Board of Directors" includes Lars Hedegaard, Diana West, Paul Beliën (editor of The Brussels Journal), Christine Brim, Bjørn Larsen and Edward S. May (editor of Gates of Vienna). It has national branches in such countries as the United Kingdom, where Paul Weston is or was the President of the English branch. The "Board of Advisors" includes Asger Aamund, Bat Ye'or, Andrew Bostom, Helle Merete Brix, Rachel Ehrenfeld, Brigitte Gabriel, Frank Gaffney, David B. Harris, Ibn Warraq, Hans Jansen, Ehsan Jami, Philippe Karsenty, Roger Kimball, Ezra Levant, Kenneth Levin, Andrew C. McCarthy, Daniel Pipes, Nidra Poller, Roger Scruton, Kathy Shaidle, Robert Spencer (editor of Jihad Watch), Mark Steyn, Brad Thor, Bruce Thornton, Allen West, Geert Wilders, Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi.
Gunman attack on Lars Hedegaard
On February 5, 2013 it was reported that a gunman had tried to shoot the organization's president Lars Hedegaard. Hedegaard was not physically harmed. The attack was condemned by Denmark´s prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, other leading Danish politicians and Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
- Interview on rightsidenews.com
- Homepage of Danish Free Press Society
- Ervik, Kristian; Skjærestad, Bent (April 14, 2012). "Dette er de tolv viktigste aktørene i det anti-islamistiske nettverket" [These are the twelve most important persons in the anti-islamic network] (in Norwegian). TV2. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- Fekete, Liz (2012). "The Muslim conspiracy theory and the Oslo massacre". Race & Class. 53 (3): 30–47. doi:10.1177/0306396811425984.
- Interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali
- Sappho description
- The International Free Press Society web page
- "Drawn conclusions". The Guardian. February 7, 2006. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- "Menn overrepresentert på islamfiendtlige nettsteder" [Men overrepresented on islamophobic websites] (in Norwegian). Norsk Telegrambyrå in ABCnyheter.no. April 24, 2012. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- "Welcome to The Free Press Society (Free Press Society web page)". Trykkefrihedsselskabet. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- "Eva Agnete Selsings tale til Mark Steyn". Tidsskriftet Sapho. Trykkefrihedsselskabet. September 15, 2010. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- "Cartoon row editor sent on leave". British Broadcasting Company. February 10, 2006. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- Gwladys Fouché (February 9, 2006). "Danish paper in U-turn on Holocaust cartoons". The Guardian. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- Politiken.dk - "Lars Hedegaard:Muslimer er voldtægtsmænd og løgnere - December 21 2010
- "Uproar in Free Press Society". The Copenhagen Post. 2009-12-23.
- Politiken.dk Politiken.dk - "Krarup: Hedegaard angrebet af kulturradikal mediemafia ", January 7 2010
- Politiken.dk - "Borgerlige smæk til Trykkefrihedsselskabet", December 24 2009
- Berlingske.dk - "Lars Hedegaard fortryder ikke sine udtalelser", December 23 2009
- Politiken.dk - "Lars Hedegaard meldt til politi for racisme" - December 22 2009
- Copenhagen Post - "Chairman faces racism charges" - August 4 2010
- The Copenhagen Post: "Free speech advocate acquitted on racism charges", February 1, 2011
- "President of Danish Free Press Society convicted for 'Racism'". Europe News. 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
- Ann Snyder (2012-04-21). "Danish Supreme Court Acquits Hedegaard". The Legal Project. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
- Sappho.dk, Policy Statement of IFPS
- "International 'Counter-Jihadist' organisations - The International Free Press Society (IFPS) Network". Counter-jihad report. HOPE not hate. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- Hope Not Hate Profile: Paul Weston
- Associated Press: Gunman fires at Danish anti-Islam writer, misses Washington Post, February 5, 2013
- Kenneth Lund:Politikere er forfærdede: Nu må vi stå sammen (In Danish) Politiken, February 5, 2013