Islam and Free Speech

[Wall Street Journal] Peter Hoekstra - The Netherlands is bracing for a new round of violence at home and against its embassies in the Middle East over "Fitna," a short film by Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament, to be released this week. The film reportedly includes images of a Koran being burned, and Wilders has called for banning the Koran - which he has compared to Hitler's Mein Kampf - from the Netherlands. Reasonable men in free societies regard Wilders's anti-Muslim rhetoric, and films like "Fitna," as disrespectful of the religious sensitivities of members of the Islamic faith. But free societies also hold freedom of speech to be a fundamental human right. We don't silence, jail or kill people with whom we disagree just because their ideas are offensive or disturbing. What is particularly disturbing about Islamic assaults against modern society is how the West has reacted with appeasement. The only major U.S. newspaper to reprint any of the controversial 2005 Danish cartoons was Denver's Rocky Mountain News. You can be sure that if these cartoons had mocked Christianity or Judaism, major American newspapers would not have hesitated to print them. I defend the right of Mr. Wilders and the media to air his film because free speech is a fundamental right that is the foundation of modern society. Western governments and media outlets cannot allow themselves to be bullied into giving up this precious right due to threats of violence. We must not fool ourselves into believing that we can appease the radical jihadist movement by granting them special protection from criticism. The writer, who was born in the Netherlands, is ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

2008-03-27 01:00:00

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