Danish terrorist attack survivor: ‘It’s a fight that we can’t ignore’

Dennis Meyhoff Brink thought he was going to die. On Feb. 14 he was attending a freedom-of-speech debate at a culture cafe in Copenhagen. The debate featured Francois Zimeray, the French ambassador to Denmark; Inna Shevchenko from the Ukrainian feminist group Femen; and Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist, who attracted attention in 2007, when he drew the Prophet Muhammad as a dog. After Zimeray had spoken to the crowd, a gunman attacked the cafe in an attempt to kill Vilks. Instead, he ended up killing Finn Nørgaard, a Danish film director. Brink, a professor at the University of Copenhagen who researches religious satire cartoons, is now worried for their future and afraid to participate in other freedom-of-speech events. But he is determined to eliminate that fear because he wants to live in a society where free debate thrives. Following are excerpts from an edited conversation with Brink.