In the wake of the terrorist attack on the offices of French satirist paper Charlie Hebdo, one Muslim cleric justified the murders under Islamic law.
USA today published a column by avowed “radical Muslim cleric” Anjem Choudary. The piece titled “People know the consequences” asks why France would allow the paper to mock Islam, and further excused the systematic murders as justified under Islamic law:
“Muslims consider the honor of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them. The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, “Whoever insults a Prophet kill him.”
“However, because the honor of the Prophet is something which all Muslims want to defend, many will take the law into their own hands, as we often see.”
The contention that mass murder is in any way an appropriate response to being personally offended is a dangerous slope on which to tread. There is no doubt that some of these cartoons can be seen as offensive to certain people, but that same sentiment can be asserted on nearly any form of speech, especially in politics. Hence, the reasoning behind and the sanctity of the Constitution’s first amendment.
Choudary then reversed the blame for the attack away from the three terrorists themselves and onto the French government:
“So why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims, thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk?”
This kind of blame shifting is also intellectually perilous. Placing the onus of speech on the any secular government is asking for abuse. But, if Choudary had his way, the government of the Islamic State would tightly control speech and punish transgressions with death.