Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald (thanks to JE) discusses the larger implications of the Redeker case: “To judge from this response, large sectors of the French intellectual and political establishment have carved out an exception to the hard-won tradition of open discussion: when it comes to Islam, as opposed to Christianity or Judaism, freedom of speech must respect definite limits.”
Last September Robert Redeker, a French high-school philosophy teacher and author of several scholarly books, published an opinion piece in Le Figaro entitled “What should the free world do in the face of Islamist intimidation?”
His piece concluded that while Judaism and Christianity are religions whose rites reject and delegitimise violence, Islam is a religion that, in its own sacred text, as well as in its everyday rites, exalts violence and hatred.
The article was posted on the internet, translated into Arabic, and widely distributed. Within a day, it was being condemned on Al-Jazeera TV and the offending issue of Le Figaro was banned in Egypt and Tunisia. Redeker received a large number of threatening emails. He was condemned to death on one Muslim site, which posted his address and a photograph of his home.
Redeker and his family went into hiding. Five months later they are still living in secrecy. Christian Delacampagne, writing in the latest issue of Commentary magazine, describes how the French reacted: “The communist mayor of Redeker’s town condemned him, the headmaster of his school complained that he had included his affiliation at the end of the article, France’s two largest teachers’ unions, both socialist, issued statements saying they did not share Redeker’s convictions. The leading leftist human-rights organisations denounced his irresponsible declarations and putrid ideas. The French Education Minister, Gilles de Robien, criticised Redeker.
“The editorial board of Le Monde, France’s newspaper of record, characterised Redeker’s piece as excessive, misleading and insulting. It called his remarks about Muhammad a blasphemy. To judge from this response, large sectors of the French intellectual and political establishment have carved out an exception to the hard-won tradition of open discussion: when it comes to Islam, as opposed to Christianity or Judaism, freedom of speech must respect definite limits.
“How did France reach this point?”
The last time France was faced with a large-scale threat from something similar – fascism – it reacted with denial, defeat and accommodation. Parallels are drawn by an American writer living in Europe, Bruce Bawer, whose book While Europe Slept describes rapidly growing Muslim enclaves across Western Europe in which women are oppressed, homosexuals are persecuted, infidels are threatened, Jews are demonised, “honour” killings are frequent, forced marriages are routine, and freedom of speech and religion are repudiated. European political and media establishments turn a blind eye to this in the name of an illusory multicultural harmony.
“Europe’s media, when confronted with events or statements that vividly illuminate the goals of Muslim leaders and agitators, either don’t report on them or edit out key facts,” Bawer wrote recently on his website.
The same is largely true, of course, in the United States. Read it all.