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October 22, 2004

Aage Bjerre, a Man For All Seasons.

It might come as a surprise to some that not all Europeans are drivelling idiots nor pantywaist appeasers. As an illustration of this I'd like to introduce you to a gentleman by the name of Aage Bjerre and his new web-site which can be found here. I wrote about him briefly some months ago here. Further investigation (clicking through a link in a newspaper story if you must know) has led to me admiring him even more.
You see our hero decided that he did not like the attitude shown by the governments of France and Germany to the war in Iraq. In a one man protest he refused to serve German and French customers of his pizza business. For this he lost his business and was thrown in jail. When freed he moved from Denmark to the Faroe Islands and managed another pizza joint, and when he again refused to serve those who he felt were did not have the correct attitude about the clash of civilisations, he was again fired.
Now, one can argue with the man's actions. Is it really fair to, when in another's employ, impose your political views on who may or may not be a customer? It is rather different when it is your own business, as it was in the first case, for of course you are allowed to serve whomever you wish. Except in our EU wonderland of course.
However, I think we can all agree to admire the man's fortitude, his consistency, even his bravery to speak out for what he believes in. Two pieces which explain this. From the Telegraph August 2003:

A Danish pizzeria owner who refused to sell pizzas to Germans or Frenchmen because of their governments' stance on the war in Iraq is to go to prison.
An appeal court upheld the conviction yesterday of Niels-Aage Bjerre for discrimination and his fine of £500. He said he would refuse to pay and will instead spend eight days in jail.
"I will not pay the fine but I'll do the time instead," said Bjerre. "It is a matter of principle."
He has closed his pizzeria, on the Danish holiday island of Fanoe rather than be forced to serve German and French nationals.
Bjerre instituted the boycott in February and was reported to the authorities after an incident three months later when he found that a couple he had served was German.
Then Bjerre promptly retrieved their pizzas, returned their money and told them to leave.
He said yesterday that both the courts and those who had reported him to the authorities were "traitors".
"The judges have chosen to support those who do not support the official Danish position on the war against Iraq."
His boycott would end only "if the governments of France and Germany change their attitude toward the United States and support Washington wholeheartedly," he added.
After he has served his sentence in an open prison, which is unlikely to take place for at least another two months due to overfilled Danish jails, Bjerre said he planned to sell frozen pizzas over the internet, hopefully to the American market.
"My internet home page will say quite clearly: no pizzas for the Germans," he warned.

and a follow up piece from July 2004:
A Danish pizza maker who was jailed last year in a war protest has been fired from his new job for re-offending.
Aage Bjerre refused to serve French and German tourists because of their governments' opposition to the Iraq war.
The passionate supporter of America's Iraq policy moved to the Faroe Islands last October after serving eight days in a minimum security jail for refusing to serve the tourists on Fanoe island, western Denmark. He had refused to pay a £500 fine.
After completing his sentence, he was employed at a pizzeria in Klaksvik, a town of 5,000 inhabitants. But last weekend a group of German tourists arrived in his pizzeria and Mr Bjerre refused to serve them. He was fired again.
He said: "They [the restaurant] knew my point of view when they hired me and that was OK until the first tourists came."

Now, what we should actually do for Aage is a slightly different matter. He's trying to set up a business selling frozen pizzas in the US, something I wish him luck with but have no way of helping. Or perhaps some of his Cafe Press products? I was very taken with this and the tag line " Too many countries forget how they got their own freedom and democracy and they do not value it for a moment."
If those alternatives appear too nakedly commercial, why not just pop over and sign his guest book?
There are, of course, different views that one can hold on the war itself, on the varied governmental reactions to it, on whether there really is an Axis of Weasels or simply peace loving democracies. That is entirely your choice. Yet one does have to admire the fortitude of a man who looked at the situation, made up his mind and then stood by it, though it cost him his business, his livelihood and his freedom. I have a feeling that this is the sort of mixture of stubborness and courage that impelled many of the immigrants into America over the centuries. If you wish, leave aside the commercial side of Aage's pages, I think the least we can do is provide a little blogospheric lovin'. His guest book can be found here.

October 22, 2004 in Military | Permalink


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Tracked on Oct 22, 2004 1:44:53 PM