In protests around the globe, Muslims are demanding an end to free speech when it concerns satire or criticism of Islam’s founder, Muhammad.
The protests are a direct response to the massive free-speech rallies in France and other Western nations after the Islamic terror attacks in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. A dozen people were murdered when the offices were attacked by Muslim jihadists, and about the same number of people were injured.
The anti-speech protests started soon after the Jan. 7 terror attack and have swept through Islamic nations in the Middle East as well as Africa, the North Caucasus, Afghanistan, Pakistan and even among Muslim populations in Western nations like Australia.
In an interview with WND, Pamela Geller, author of “Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance,” observed there is little support for free speech in the Muslim world.
“Where have Muslims demonstrated against the death penalty for blasphemy and in favor of the freedom of the speech? Nowhere. Where are the hundreds of thousands of Muslims demonstrating in defense of free speech? Nowhere,” she said.
In contrast, protests against free speech took place in:
Algeria – On Jan. 16, a protest of hundreds of people took place although the government had banned demonstrations in the capital city of Algiers. Dozens were arrested.
Niger – At least 10 people were killed during demonstrations over the weekend of Jan. 17. Seven Christian churches were attacked and the homes of pastors were torched by angry Muslims protesting against Charlie Hebdo.
Banako, Mali – Thousands of Muslims gathered to denounce Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 16 at the behest of religious leaders and in defiance of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Iran – On Jan. 19, hundreds of Iranian students protested at the French embassy and burned American and Israeli flags. ABC News quoted Iranian lawmaker Ahmad Tavakoli, who blamed the West for the Charlie Hebdo attack. Addressing Westerners, he thundered, “This is the fruit of your own action.” With government encouragement, the protests were repeated a few days later by tens of thousands in cities across the country.
Chechnya, Russia – The Russian Interior Ministry estimated that 800,000 protesters – 60 percent of Chechnya if the number is accurate – attended a Jan. 19 demonstration against criticism of Muhammad. President Ramzan Kadyrov, a strong supporter of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, proclaimed that “we are ready to die to stop anyone who thinks that you can irresponsibly defile the name of the prophet.” Kadyrov has previously said he does not regard ISIS as a threat to Russia.
Baghdad, Iraq – Protesters in Iraq’s capital burned French flags in a Jan. 22 demonstration against Charlie Hebdo. Hassan Jumaa, director of Al-Nahar television, demanded an apology from the French government to Muslims because “our religion is a religion of tolerance.”
Afghanistan – A crowd of about 100 protesters demonstrated against the French embassy Jan. 22 amid continuing violence in the country. Another protest took place in the western city of Herat. Protesters carried signs calling for “Death to America, Israel, and France.”
West Bank, Palestinian territories – Thousands of Palestinians rallied in Ramallah and Hebron on Jan. 24 against criticism of Muhammad and proclaimed that both France and America were “the mother of terrorism.” The protests were reportedly organized by the Tahrir Party, which advocates a unified Islamic Caliphate.
Turkey – On Jan. 24, an estimated 100,000 demonstrators protested Charlie Hebdo. One of the speakers, “Free Cause Party” chair Molla Osman Teyfour, declared, “As long as you are enemies of Allah, we will be your enemies” and said that protesters would “cut the tongue that talked against the prophet.”
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu of the ruling Justice and Development Party expressed his solidarity with the protests.
Turkey has also ordered Facebook to block several pages that were critical of Islam’s founder. The American company complied to avoid a shutdown. Currently, the Turkish government is pursuing an ongoing criminal investigation of a Turkish newspaper that reprinted the Charlie Hebdo cartoons following the killings in Paris.
Pakistan – Tens of thousands of Pakistanis participated in protests on Jan. 25 against criticism of Muhammad, including a demonstration in Karachi with a reported 25,000 people. The protests included cries of “death to the blasphemers” and a call from the Pakistani political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, for Muslim countries to push through an international law against “blasphemy” at the United Nations.
Kyrgyzstan – On Jan. 26, 2,500 people protested in Jalal-Abad against cartoons that “insult the feelings of religious believers.”
Opposition to free speech, when it comes to criticism of Islam, is also having an impact in Western nations.
In Australia, an estimated 800 people attended a rally Jan. 23 organized by the Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir against the “arrogant West” and criticism of Muhammad.
One speaker, Sufyan Badar, proclaimed, “We rejected freedom yesterday, we rejected freedom today, and we reject your freedom tomorrow.”
The head of the largest non-English BBC News service is also refusing to call the attacks on Charlie Hebdo an act of terrorism. Tarik Kafala, head of BBC Arabic, believes the term “terrorist” is “value-laden” and should not be used to describe the murders in Paris.
According to Kafala: “Terrorism is such a loaded word. The U.N. has been struggling for more than a decade to define the word and they can’t. It is very difficult to.”
Pamela Geller is not surprised. Her own website, PamelaGeller.com, went offline for two weeks because of Digital Denial of Service attacks attempting to shut it down. It was only restored after “prohibitive expense.”
Geller believes what she calls the “enemedia” is empowering the attacks on free speech.
“Every newspaper in the world should have published the cartoons in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo jihad massacre to demonstrate their commitment to free speech,” she said. “Very few did. Had the mainstream media published the cartoons back in 2005, the Hebdo editorial staff would be alive today. By submitting to the demands of savages, we empowered them.”
International security and terrorism expert F. Michael Maloof, author of “A Nation Forsaken,” believes confrontations between Muslims and Europeans will only increase. He is pessimistic about the prospects of democracy and free speech in countries like Afghanistan.
“The Taliban has a saying,” noted Maloof. “‘The West has the clocks; we have the time.’ They will simply wait until the West leaves and fill the political vacuum.”
Similarly, Maloof observes that Russian President Vladimir Putin banned a demonstration by Muslims in Moscow but allowed it in Chechnya because he “probably couldn’t do much about it anyway.”
Maloof is also highly concerned about the direction of Turkey. The formerly secular republic is “becoming more Islamist and more radicalized” under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party.
Maloof also points to Turkey’s quiet support for ISIS and says, “ISIS is really a tool of Turkey.”
As Maloof describes in his e-book, “ISIS Rising: Prelude to a Neo-Ottoman Caliphate,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu “clearly called for the re-creation of the Ottoman Caliphate.” Turkey is exploiting Islamic radicalism and the rise of ISIS to further the goal by keeping “open its borders to allow ISIS fighters to cross and to launder money to finance jihad.”
In Western Europe, the Charlie Hebdo attacks have led to an increased counter-terrorist effort. Though the West must respond to the “challenge to Western freedoms,” Maloof worries that counter-terrorist efforts “might backfire and isolate European Muslims instead of assimilating them. These rising tensions could create conditions between Christians and Muslims where we could even see religious wars in Europe.”
Geller, however, does not see an alternative to confrontation. As she puts it: “There will be more conflicts over free speech, and most probably laws restricting it in Western countries. But the officials who impose these restrictions will soon learn that they won’t appease the jihadis. Accommodation always gives way to more demands, more submission to Islam.”