Danes jail bookseller for Facebook terror posts

Kurt Westergaard. Picture: Getty
Kurt Westergaard. Picture: Getty
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A DANISH-MOROCCAN bookseller has been jailed for four years for supporting and ­inciting terrorism in posts on Facebook.

A lawyer for bookseller Sam Mansour argued that his Facebook messages, such as “We are terrorists, and we are proud”, were a matter of freedom of speech, just as Danish cartoonists who drew the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, outraging many Muslims, were deemed to have been exercising their right to free expression.

“I just used the civil rights that Danish society has given me,” Mansour said in his defence statement, insisting he had hurt no-one. But a court in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, rejected that argument and ruled he had directly incited violence and terrorism.

Mansour’s other posts included “Jihad is a duty”. He also posted Photoshopped pictures of the severed head of one of the cartoonists who drew Muhammad.

Mansour portrayed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard – who created a controversial caricature of the prophet later published by Jyllands-Posten newspaper – with his head in a toilet, surrounded by flames and blood.

Morten Storm, a radical jihadist turned secret agent, came out of protective hiding to testify against the bookseller.

Mansour had been jailed for three and a half years in 2007 on the same charge. Both then and in this latest case, the prosecutor suggested he should be deported back to ­Morocco.

The 54-year-old sat calmly during the hearing, occasionally smiling at his supporters, who were behind a glass partition.

Many supporters were teenage boys with bushy beards, checking their smartphones and joking with court guards. Among the supporters were six women in black nijabs.

During one of many breaks in the hearing, Mansour spoke with his supporters, one of whom shook his hand through a gap in the partition and told him: “Good things will come to you, Sam”.

The 2005 cartoons of Muhammad, published in various Danish newspapers, sparked heated debate about freedom of speech in Denmark and violent protests in various parts of the Muslim world, in which at least 50 people were killed. For many Muslims, any depiction of Muhammad is blasphemous.

Mansour – dubbed the Bookseller from Brønshøj by many Danes – was found guilty of inciting terror by a Frederiksberg court.

When jailed in 2007, he became the first person in Danish history to be convicted of inciting terrorism. He served his full sentence for that offence.

His latest four-year sentence is significantly less than the nine years that were initially demanded by prosecutors.

They insist he serves as al-Qaeda’s de facto “PR man” within Denmark. The court also rejected the prosecution’s call for Mansour to lose his Danish citizenship.

Prosecutors could still consider an appeal.