Criminalizing criticism of Islam

Elizabeth Samson in the Wall Street Journal reports on attempts by Muslims to shut down speech and other expression critical of Muslims and Islam. She begins:

There are strange happenings in the world of international jurisprudence that do not bode well for the future of free speech. In an unprecedented case, a Jordanian court is prosecuting 12 Europeans in an extraterritorial attempt to silence the debate on radical Islam.

The prosecutor general in Amman charged the 12 with blasphemy, demeaning Islam and Muslim feelings, and slandering and insulting the prophet Muhammad in violation of the Jordanian Penal Code. The charges are especially unusual because the alleged violations were not committed on Jordanian soil.

Among the defendants is the Danish cartoonist whose alleged crime was to draw in 2005 one of the Muhammad illustrations that instigators then used to spark Muslim riots around the world. His co-defendants include 10 editors of Danish newspapers that published the images. The 12th accused man is Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, who supposedly broke Jordanian law by releasing on the Web his recent film, “Fitna,” which tries to examine how the Quran inspires Islamic terrorism.

The author says the Jordanian action is “part of a larger campaign to use the law and international forums to intimidate critics of militant Islam.” She cites the United Nations General Assembly, which recently passed a Resolution on Combating Defamation of Religions. However, it was really about one religion, as the only one mentioned in the resolution was Islam.  And look at this, horrifying on two counts.

More worrying, the U.N. Human Rights Council in June said it would refrain from condemning human-rights abuses related to “a particular religion.” The ban applies to all religions, but it was prompted by Muslim countries that complained about linking Islamic law, Shariah, to such outrages as female genital mutilation and death by stoning for adulterers. This kind of self-censorship could prove dangerous for people suffering abuse, and it follows the council’s March decision to have its expert on free speech investigate individuals and the media for negative comments about Islam.

That’s a good job for a free speech expert in an Orwellian world.

We’ve seen that some countries take their cues from “international opinion” to decide what is allowable. That, I would guess, is how Canada’s Human Rights Commissions came to think their job is to persecute journalists like Mark Steyn whose writings offend Muslims — even though what offends them is Steyn quoting Muslims’ own words. So the UN’s actions are very ominous indeed.

And as for Jordan, their prosecution isn’t just an exercise in talking to themselves. The Jordanian government has asked Interpol to arrest Geert Wilders and the Danish cartoonists and bring them to Jordan to stand trial. Both the Dutch and the Danish governments have refused to turn their citizens over. But if any of the targeted people go to a place that recognizes the Jordanian prosecution, they will be in jeopardy.

So Islamic governments can prosecute people for whatever annoys them, and those people won’t be able to travel to any country that recognizes the prosecution.  Thus does Islam keep encroaching on our lives.

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