September 18, 2013
Firoozeh Bazrafkan says she would rather spend the five days in prison than pay the fine
A Danish-Iranian artist was found guilty of racism by the Western High Court on Monday for statements she made about Muslim men.
Firoozeh Bazrafkan was charged with racism after writing in a blog entry, published in Jyllands-Posten newspaper in December 2011, that she was "very convinced that Muslim men around the world rape, abuse and kill their daughters".
She added: "This is, according to my understanding as a Danish-Iranian, the result of a defective and inhumane culture – if you can even call it a culture at all. But you can say, I think, that it is a defective and inhumane religion whose textbook, the Koran, is more immoral, deplorable and crazy than manuals of the two other global religions combined."
Appeal to the Supreme Court
Aarhus City Court decided not to convict Bazrafkan under anti-racism legislation, section 266b of the penal code, last December.
The prosecution appealed the decision to the Western High Court, which on Monday found her guilty, handing her a 5,000 kroner fine, or five days in prison.
"The court argued that what I wrote about Muslim men was condescending and a generalisation," Bazrafkan told The Copenhagen Post. "But that’s unfair, because there are many Islamic codes that are being used by Islamic men to justify their actions against women and children."
A chain of racist statements
Bazrafkan’s racism sentence is the fourth in a chain of statements that have resulted in charges under the anti-racism law.
The first was Lars Hedegaard, the leader of the free press society Trykkefrihedsselskabet, who was convicted of racism in 2011 for statements he made in private about Muslim men.
He was cleared in 2012 when the Supreme Court decided that the statements were not made with the intention that they would be publicised.
Jesper Langballe, a former MP for Dansk Folkeparti, was subsequently charged and convicted of racism because of statements he made when defending Hedegaard in an opinion piece in Berlingske newspaper.
Lars Kragh Andersen, a notorious free speech activist, was the third to be charged with racism after writing in an article on 180grader.dk that he was, “convinced that Muslim men around the world both abuse and killed their daughters”.
It was this passage that Bazrafkan repeated and which resulted in her being charged with racism.
A controversial artist
Bazrafkan – a controversial artist known for integrating her Muslim background into her work – says that her adaptation and use of Andersen's text was a “political happening” that was designed to expose the problem with the racism law.
She argues that she was not accusing all Muslim men of using Islamic codes to justify horrific acts against women, only that violence against women and children was often excused by citing Islam.
"It’s not the same thing. For example, Muslims around the world protested at the Mohammed cartoons, and doctors around the world misdiagnose patients, but not all Muslims protested, and not all doctors misdiagnose."
She added: "It’s idiotic to suggest that I think that all Muslim men are rapists."
High Court unconvinced
The verdict was decided by a panel of three judges and three jurors. Five of the six decided that section 266b of the penal code applied, as her message in the blog was that Muslim men in general commit severe crime.
“By publishing the statement in the blog, the defendant presented statements in which a group of people are mocked and degraded because of their belief," the Western High Court stated in its verdict. "We therefore find the defendant guilty."
Bazrafkan said she would rather spend the time in prison than pay the fine, and that she was prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court.