The Ghost of Quisling.
There, to the astonishment of his supporters, Selbekk issued an abject apology for reprinting the cartoons. At his side, accepting his act of contrition on behalf of 46 Muslim organizations and asking that all threats now be withdrawn, was Mohammed Hamdan, head of Norway’s Islamic Council. In attendance were members of the Norwegian cabinet and the largest assemblage of imams in Norway's history. It was a picture right out of a sharia courtroom: the dhimmi prostrating himself before the Muslim leader, and the leader pardoning him – and, for good measure, declaring Selbekk to be henceforth under his protection, as if it were he, Hamdan, and not the Norwegian police, that held in his hands the security of citizens in Norway.
Selbekk, in his prepared remarks, leaned heavily on the usual soothing multicultural language, including the word "understanding." It was clear that Selbekk had indeed come to an understanding: he understood that if he didn't relent, he risked physical harm. He also spoke of "respect" – a word that in this context must surely have been understood by the imams to refer not to a volitional regard for a social equal but to the obligatory deference of a repentant infidel. As for Handam, he noted that "Selbekk has children the same age as my own. I want my children and his children to grow up together, live together in peace, and be friends." This was rather chilling, given that Selbekk’s family, too, had been under threat.
The Norwegian government hailed this "reconciliation." Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who had faced off with Selbekk in several TV debates when the latter had been defending free speech, now congratulated him for his apology, which he characterized, grotesquely, as an act of "responsibility" that displayed "integrity and courage." Norway’s imams were ecstatic: one said that "the fact that Norwegians have apologized gives Norway…a higher status than before." And Aftenposten, Norway’s newspaper of record, cheered Selbekk’s action, while denying that it constituted an admission that he had no right to publish the cartoons. Alas, Selbekk’s surrender plainly represented a giant step toward a purely theoretical "freedom of speech" – a "freedom" of which fewer and fewer Norwegians, after this officially sanctioned act of national humiliation, will dare to avail themselves.
On Tuesday, as if Norway hadn't already been disgraced enough, an official Norwegian delegation met in Qatar with Muslim leader Yusuf al Qaradawi (who has defended suicide bombers and the murder of Jewish women and children) and implored him to accept Selbekk's apology for the cartoons. Lucky them: he did. "To meet Yusuf al-Qaradawi under the present circumstances," the Norwegian-Iraqi writer Walid al-Kubaisi told Aftenposten yesterday, "is tantamount to granting extreme Islamists and defenders of terror a right of joint consultation regarding how Norway should be governed." Yep.
Why is it people must practice responsible journalism when it comes to issues dealing with Islam but nowhere else?
There is an irony in this. As I write I have Mozart's "The Abduction from the Seraglio" playing. In brief the opera is the story of a Spanish nobleman rescues his love and friends from slavery in Turkey. Now, we have European nations willingly entering slavery to Islam.