03:10 GMT28 November 2020
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    The man who hanged cartoons of Prophet Muhammad across the town of Kongsberg, said he wanted to protect the freedom of expression and make sure that Islam doesn't have any special protection in a free society, and people may have a conversation about it “without people being branded as racists and fascists”.

    A local man in his 40s has hanged Prophet Muhammad cartoons in the town of Kongsberg, admittedly in support of beheaded French history teacher Samuel Paty.

    The man hung up over 20 A4-sized posters around Kongsberg town centre, in visible public places such as the shopping centre, the train station and the library.

    The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said the goal was to protect freedom of expression.

    “I want us to be able to enjoy the freedom of expression, and Islam cannot have any special protection in a free society. I want us to have an honest conversation about Islam without people being branded as racists and fascists,” the man explained to national broadcaster NRK.

    However, he admitted that he also wanted to see whether he could provoke the police.

    “I had a feeling that if I did this, the police would take it up with me. But it was far worse than I ever thought,” the man said.

    The same evening, he was visited by four police officers, after being recognised in surveillance camera footage. According to the man, the police asked him to remove the posters, which, they decided, could be considered offensive by many people.

    Subsequently the police offered an apology, admitting that they didn't have proper grounds to reach out to the man.

    “I regret that the person was approached in this way. It just demands an apology,” Kongsberg police station chief Håvard Revå said.

    Øyvind Aas of the Southeast police district offered an apology as well.

    “We cannot order him to take them away. We shouldn't also say anything about statements that are hung up,” Aas said, calling it a “mistake”.

    The man behind the cartoons ventured that the police wouldn't have bothered him had he hung up cartoons of Jesus, Karl Marx or Buddha.

    “This was an act of principle. I specifically wanted to talk about this, it was my intention,” he emphasised.

    History teacher Samuel Paty was gruesomely murdered in a Paris suburb by an 18-year-old man of Chechen descent after showing a few satirical cartoons of Muslim Prophet Muhammad during a lesson on the freedom of speech and the freedom of conscience.

    The suspect was shot dead by police officers that same day, with an investigation into the brutal murder now in full swing.

    President Macron immediately weighed in dubbing the vicious incident a “terrorist attack”, tasking his government to undertake steps to root out the Islamist threat, and tighten security in schools among other measures.

    However, as France doubled down on its stance, broadcasting the cartoons in the cities of Toulouse and Montpelier and President Macron adamantly defending them in a speech, calls for a boycott of French products appeared across the Muslim world.


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