A Showdown Is Coming Over Freedom of Expression in Europe

(AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Will Europe embrace and defend the freedom of expression or blasphemy laws? And once Europe makes its choice, what will the United States of America do in turn about the same issue? The showdown is coming in Europe, and it’s coming quickly. Last Sunday, Phedon Phedonos, who is the mayor of the city of Paphos in Cyprus, posted a video on Facebook of young Muslim migrants demonstrating in his city. They weren’t protesting over any local issue, but over the burning of a copy of a Qur’an in faraway Sweden. The implications of this are even more far-reaching, for Europe and the entire world.

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Greek City Times reported Tuesday that Phedonos commented, “The march of young Muslims today in the tourist area of ​​Paphos with the Qu’ran [sic] in hand with obvious religious fanaticism should concern the government and our State and, in general, everyone for the actions that must be taken immediately. History does not forgive mistakes and omissions.”

The demonstrators’ “obvious religious fanaticism” was clear from their cries of “Allahu akbar,” which does not mean “God is great,” as the Western establishment media routinely claims, but rather, “Allah is greater,” that is, greater than your god. It is a declaration of supremacy and the ubiquitous cry of jihad terrorists the world over as they commit acts of violence. 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta reminded himself to “shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers.”

Their fanaticism was also evident from the fact that they were demonstrating in Cyprus over something that happened in Sweden. Islamic apologists and their Leftist allies in the West frequently accuse foes of jihad violence of engaging in collective blame of the entire Muslim community for the actions of a few “extremists,” if those foes speak honestly about the Islamic doctrinal roots of jihad violence. But if any collective blaming is actually being done, it’s on the Islamic side. Jihadis and their allies and enablers tend to see all Europeans as Christians and all Christians as responsible for the recent Qur’an-burning in Sweden, which was actually carried out by an Iraqi ex-Muslim named Salwan Momika.

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Momika explained, “I want to protest in front of the large mosque in Stockholm, and I want to express my opinion about the Quran… I will tear up and burn it.” He added, “This is democracy. It is in danger if they tell us we can’t do this.” Indeed, Sweden’s Court of Appeal recently declared that burning the Qur’an was a legal form of protest, as part of the nation’s respect for the freedom of expression. That came after the police in Stockholm had stopped an earlier attempt to burn the Islamic holy book, on the grounds that doing so could lead to violence.

The Court of Appeal ruling, however, was not the end of the story. Reuters reported Thursday that the Swedish government is now thinking about making burning the Qur’an illegal after all. Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer explained, “We have to ask ourselves whether the current order is good or whether there is reason to reconsider it.” It had to be reconsidered, he said, because the Qur’an burnings had made Sweden a “prioritized target” for jihad terror attacks. Strömmer observed, “We can see that the Qur’an burning last week has generated threats to our internal security.”

Well, of course it did. But that’s what the police are for. If Sweden upholds the freedom of expression, that should mean that it upholds the freedom of expression precisely when that freedom is threatened. Otherwise, it doesn’t really uphold the freedom of expression at all. And if it doesn’t, it is no longer a free society and is ripe for any tyrant to seize and work his will unhindered, for opposing him will be impossible.

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Related: A UN Body Has Condemned the Burning of a Qur’an in Sweden. Here’s Why It Shouldn’t Have.

That’s the objective of the 56-nation (plus the Palestinian Authority) Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Reuters reported Sunday that OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha called for Western countries to ban Qur’an burning using laws against hate speech: “We must send constant reminders to the international community regarding the urgent application of international law, which clearly prohibits any advocacy of religious hatred.” This is an unmistakable indication of how “hate speech” laws can be weaponized to compel Western countries to abandon the freedom of expression and submit to Sharia blasphemy laws.

The demonstration in Cyprus is one sign that this issue isn’t going to go away anytime soon. And with the Western political and media elites already having a well-established admiration for authoritarianism and distaste for the freedom of speech, can the acceptance of these demonstrators’ demands, and those of the OIC, be long in coming?

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