Norwegian authorities did not take kindly to the latest verbal assault from Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, better known as Mullah Krekar. Police arrested the Muslim extremist at his home Thursday night, charging him with publicly encouraging violent acts.
Krekar had claimed in an interview with Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday that anyone who draws caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed deserves to die. “They are stomping on our dignity, our principles and our faith,” Krekar said. “They deserve to die.”
He said he supports Norwegians who head off to fight for the brutal organization Islamic State (IS) and he also said that the massacre in the editorial offices of the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris pleased him. He also said he would give a gift to whoever kills one of the Iraqi Kurds in Oslo whom he earlier was convicted of threatening.
Police announced in a press release issued Thursday evening that they arrested Krekar in his residence at 8:45pm. The arrest “proceeded without any drama,” according to police, and Krekar will be subject to a custody hearing on Friday.
Brynjar Meling, Krekar’s longtime defense attorney, said he had not yet seen the charges filed against Krekar and was heading for the prison to confer with his client. Meling claimed there was “massive pressure” on the police “from both politicians, self-appointed experts and the police themselves. He is aware of the consequences of expressing himself as he has done. He has nonetheless chosen to say what he said, knowing full well that he has been convicted for things he has said, even though he has said they are not direct threats.”
Judicial experts contended that police were on solid ground in arresting Krekar. His remarks, said lawyer Morten Kinander, an assistant professor on the law faculty at the University of Bergen, extend far beyond the bounds of freedom expression because he made concrete threats against an identified person and because he recommends violence.
“He crossed a line when he encourages murder and makes violent threats,” Kinander told NRK. “It’s irrelevant whether this is in connection with religious acts.” He noted that Krekar promised a reward to whoever takes the life of a named individual. “That is clearly a criminal offense,” Kinander said.
Anine Kierulf, another lawyer and postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Human Rights in Oslo, agreed that Krekar’s comments broke the law. “He comes with an imperative, clear encouragement to kill someone,” she told NRK. “That is forbidden under Norwegian law.”