COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – A Danish pizzeria owner was jailed Tuesday for refusing to serve French and German tourists in protesting their countries’ opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
A Danish court found Aage Bjerre guilty of discrimination and fined him $900. Bjerre refused to pay, and will now serve an eight-day sentence.
In February 2003, before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Bjerre posted two signs barring Germans and French from his pizzeria on Denmark’s western island of Fanoe. His refusal to serve them drew criticism in this Scandinavian country, where the government supported the war while its citizens were split.
The 46-year-old received hundreds of fan letters from the United States, but had to sell the pizzeria after repeated vandalism and a large drop in sales.
I think it was a misguided gesture, for Pizza-embargoes haven’t ever worked before in all of human history – thwarted customers simply take their business elsewhere. I don’t personally mind, for as far as I am concerned he has the right to serve or refuse to serve whomever he wants to. I also don’t think that anybody else was angry, my fellow citizens will line up to have themselves photographed next to a sign that says ‘Germans keep out!’. Good for a laugh or two.
As to his punishment: The futility of the gesture was obvious, and the ‘discrimination’ was just a pretext to fine him. What this really is all about is the fact that his community depends on German tourists for its livelyhood, and his fellow citizens were afraid the tourists might stay away. I also strongly suspect that the vandalism was perpetrated by neighbors afarid to lose their businesses or jobs.
Anyway, he’s obviously one of these oddballs who obsess one thing or another, for him it was the war on Iraq. This wouldn’t have gone anywhere, if he hadn’t gotten all those fan-letters to stiffen his resistance, so that he refused to give in to his fellow citizens’ pressure and to pay the fine, leading to his stint in prison and the loss of his business. The people who sent him those letters should now damn well feel obliged to make amends. They should send him money, or even lobby to get him a greencards.
PS: Think about it for a second: *Danish* Pizza?