A young Islamist in Norway had his day in court on Monday, to defend a long string of provocative statements and alleged threats he’s made over the past few years. The case attracted the media publicity expected, as his high-profile defense attorney claimed he was testing the limits of freedom of expression.
Arslan Maroof Hussain, also known alternatively as Ubaydullah Hussain and Abaydullah Hussain, denied, as expected, that he was guilty of making threats against two Norwegian journalists, an author, Jews in Norway and a well-known researcher who testified against another radical Islamist.
Hussain, who recently stepped down as spokesman for a radical Islamist group in Norway known as Profetens Ummah, doesn’t deny making the statements that prosecutors claim break the law. Among them:
– In an e-mail to a journalist at newspaper Aftenposten, who had written about radical Norwegian Muslims who were fighting in Syria, Hussain wrote that the journalist had overstepped his bounds so gravely “that you should be concerned about your own security. This isn’t a threat, warning or scare-mail. But if something should happen to you, I will smile all the way to your funeral.”
– In another e-mail to a journalist at newspaper Dagsavisen, who had written about Islamists learning to shoot by going through the training needed to obtain a hunting license in Norway, Hussain wrote that the journalist’s story was not well-received and that she shouldn’t be surprised if somthing happened in her private life. “This isn’t a threat, just useful information for your own use,” Hussain wrote.
– After newspaper VG had reported that Norwegian Jews lacked police protection, Hussain wrote on Facebook, with a link to VG’s article, that it was “too bad” that a “brother” who fired shots at the synagogue in Oslo “didn’t hit anyone.”
– After a researcher, who later asked not to be publicly identified, testified at the trial of another radical Islamist, Hussain approached him during a court recess and told him that “with God the Almighty’s will, you will burn in hell and in this world, and In shah Allah, Muslims will take responsibility.”
Hussain is also charged with making defamatory and discriminatory comments about gay author Amal Aden, who comes from Somalia. The debate centered on whether Amal Aden should be subjected to violence. ”They should absolutely not beat her,” wrote Hussain. “They should have stoned her to death, since practicing homosexuality shall be punished with death.”
Looking for ‘an interpretation’
Hussain’s defense attorney, John Christian Elden, said that his client denies he’s guilty of the charges in his indictment. Elden says he stands by his statements, “and now we will get an interpretation” in the court of what was actually said. “It’s more a question of whether the statements are really threatening, and whether he meant them as threatening,” Elden told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “When he cites the Koran, or the Bible, there’s a question of whether that’s a violation (of Norwegian law).”
As his trial extended into the afternoon, Hussain was asked abut his praise for terrorists and terrorist attacks. He called Osama bin Laden a “freedom fighter who worked for Islam,” and said he could understand bin Laden’s attack on the US in 2001, “given the USA’s war in the Muslim lands of Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Hussain, who was born in Norway in 1985, has earlier told NRK that he thinks it’s “remarkable” that the Norwegian court system is “using its resources and time on a case like this.” He said that he nonetheless was willing to clarify his opinion that he hasn’t broken “any of your man-made Norwegian laws, but rather held to the freedom of expression that your society is so proud of.”