As we in the United States sat in horror, watching the views of a dozen people mowed down by Islamic gunmen in the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, we were confronted once again, with the stark fact that there is a civilizational clash between Western liberal democracies and the world of Islamism.
Many of us first became aware of the disproportionate extent of rage that the Islamists have over any depiction of their prophet in 1988, when Salman Rushdie first published his Satanic Verses. This fictionalized account of the prophet Mohammed led to a fatwa calling for his assassination, bringing the writer into hiding for most of his life. This was the opening salvo on our Western freedoms, fired from Tehran, by none other than the Iranian Supreme leader, the late Ayatollah Rouhella Khomeini on Feb. 14, 1989.
In 2004, the Dutch film-maker, Theo Van Gough, while working on a film with the Somalian born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali about the treatment of women under Islam, was assassinated with a note pinned to his chest, saying “Ayaan, You’ re next.”
On Sept. 30, 2005, the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which resulted in massive riots, wherever there existed a significant population of Muslims, resulting in over 200 deaths.
And then in 2009, Yale University Press was to have published a book about the Danish cartoon case, by Jytte Klausen entitled, “The Cartoons that Shook the world”, depicting the cartoons. However, in a spineless act of anticipatory self-censorship, Yale University decided to remove those cartoons, the very subject of the book, from the publication.
Sometimes death is the chosen method of the Islamist’s muzzling of our Western values of freedom of speech, freedom of the press and artistic expression. Sometimes there is a method that may be less pernicious to the life of the individual artist or writer but clearly damaging to the fabric of liberal, democratic societies.
In 2003, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld wrote the book, “Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop it”. The book specifically details how certain individuals, organizations, charities, banks, money laundering schemes and corrupt officials all contribute to the funding of terrorism.
One of the individuals highlighted in the book was Saudi billionaire Khalid ben Mahfouz who had been engaged in money laundering from funds raised in the form of a “Zakat’, a charitable contribution to Islamic charities, to finance several Islamic terrorist operations, including Al Qaida and Hamas. Mr. Mahfouz shopped around the globe in search of a jurisdiction in which the libel laws are particularly onerous towards the defendant. He found that in British courts, the defendant is presumed guilty before proven innocent. He then purchased 23 copies of the book through the internet, had them shipped to an English address, and in January of 2004, Rachel Ehrenfeld was sued in a British court. This process has been known as “libel terrorism”, or “libel tourism”.
Ms. Ehrenfeld courageously refused to subject herself and her American first amendment rights to the British judicial system. Because of her refusal to show up in court, Mahfouz won on a default judgment, and Ms. Ehrenfeld was ordered to pay $200,000 and to issue a statement of apology to Mahfouz.
Rachel had tried to countersue Mahfouz in a New York court, but attorneys for Mahfouz argued that they did not have jurisdiction in a New York court, and the judge ruled in their favor.
However, not one to ever give up, Ms. Ehrenfeld was determined not to allow American liberties to be undermined by weaker foreign libel laws, and took to the American legislative system. In 2008, she took to the new York State legislature and passed “Rachel’s law” or “The Libel Protection Act”. And, in 2010 with a bit of support from Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), Rachel’s law was passed by both houses of Congress, and signed into law by the President. This law says that foreign libel laws can never be enforced in the United States, and is a clear victory for first amendment freedoms in the United States.
Yet, as we all mourn the brave cartoonists and writers of Charlie Hebdo magazine, how many newspapers will carry their cartoons, which is a part of the entire story? Will the Washington Post or the New York Times? Will President Obama name this heinous act for what we all know it is, Islamic Terrorism? All of these acts of omission are a type of anticipatory self-censorship that mean we are all quietly submitting to the intimidation of the Islamist tormentor.
When Nidal Malik Hassan gunned down 13 people on Nov. 5, 2009, in Fort Hood, Texas, shouting Alahu Akbar“, the Obama administration was quick to call the incident “work place violence”. When the September 2012 attack was made on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya, killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy officials, the Obama administration initially pinned the blame on a silly, amateur movie entitled “Innocence of Muslims”, and the film-maker still remains in jail today on trumped up charges.
We will never win this long, civilizational war if we cower to the Islamist bullies on the global playground, and are not prepared to defend our liberties and to stand up for the truth. We should long remember the words of Stephen Charbonnier, Charlie Hebdo’s editor who was gunned down in Wednesday’s attack, “Without freedom of speech we are dead. We can’t live in a country without freedom of speech. I prefer to die than live like a rat.”
Originally published at World Tribune at: https://www.worldtribune.com/2015/01/09/western-civilization-assault-bowing-not-solution
Photo credit: Reuters
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