Not many know what Rasmus Paludan, the Danish-Swedish born political party leader of Hard Line (Stram Kurs) is about, what his objectives behind his repeated and since long predictable demonstrations of burning the Holy Quran truly are. So, what are his motivations for his actions and is he truly committed?
Many will recognize Paludan for targeting the Muslim communities in Europe, mainly in the established ghettos of Denmark and Sweden, through orchestrating the burning of the Holy Quran and (Turkish) flags native to the Muslim communities. But very few numbers have been exposed to the warnings of his actions and the sincerity behind them.
For one, Paludan is a professional lawyer who has defended people of color and the very religion he otherwise portrays to loathe and when confronted about it till this day even, he defends that he can both defend Muslims, but also attack their symbols and provoke them rightfully as he is a professional in both conducts. For when asked about his intentions, he defends that he is not a provocateur, but solely a defender of free speech – which, according to him, is all about showing up at ghettos, chanting hurtful words while burning symbols very dear to the locals living there while recording the whole ordeal with a massive presence of police force ready to protect Paludan from “aggressors” attacking free speech. That is the image Paludan paints through his recorded material as he uses these for his online radical campaigns through YouTube and other relevant social media accounts.
Paludan actually emerged as a YouTube phenomenon and gradually earned a loyal dedicated radical circle, obtained increasing support through otherwise hidden and enclosed Facebook groups and provided an arena for “legal” hate speech and provocation as the Danish government had revised the legislation in favor of such actions under the name of free speech and the right to gather a group together (forsamlingsfrihed). Through this increased support he was able to profit as a public figure, he was able to promote his business as a lawyer and profited through each YouTube view and in the 2019 elections he emerged as a politician through his newly established party at the time.
Paludan promised to send immigrants and Muslim foreigners out of the country and tried to establish his promise as a truth through his demonstrations of free speech as he calls it – a demonstration, not provocation. Because, in fact, an immigrant is required to keep a clean record in Denmark in order to be allowed an assessment for obtaining citizenship. By provoking people living in ghettos, he gains direct access to people whom often do not possess a citizenship yet, manages to record them talking back to him with foul language or records them throwing objects at him – and with the police force already present, these individuals are quickly detained and most often prosecuted and sent out of the country. That is Paludan’s scheme, his way of trapping the locals and also his way of deceiving his followers as this is no substantial way to send immigrants out of the country.
During the 2019 elections it was indeed quickly established that Paludan had cheated through the elections and thus got his party banned in Denmark and had to re-establish it in his father’s country; Sweden as Paludan too possesses dual-citizenship and is of a multi-national background. But something else also occurred. A Danish newspaper had gained access to how much of an economic burden Paludan had been for a number of years through excessive police protection. When realizing that Paludan was directly draining the tax money, he became an eyesore – now he also affected the regular people and not Muslims only, now he was a problem and quickly lost his novelty among Danes and never actually had any real popularity in Sweden to begin with. In fact, his last Swedish election got him a mere 157 votes.
All of this is not at all surprising when considering that this was the exact outcome which his younger brother, a political figure before Paludan decided to be one, had warned the public against in a YouTube broadcast. He had in fact warned the Danes of Paludan being a master liar, a master manipulator, whom in fact could not deliver on his promises and that he knew so – but kept up with the acting, while continuing to keep defending people of color and Muslim background in courtrooms as he cannot afford to lose his license. Additionally, it is an important point to note that the events in Denmark and Sweden are not known by the Turkish public opinion, and the same opinions are designed generally by the mass media. Unfortunately, people cannot benefit from detailed true information, events, facts, and people…
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Yusuf SAYIN is an academic member, and Melek KORKMAZ PALTACI is a Master Degree’s Student of Necmettin Erbakan University, Department of Political Science and International Relations