On Sunday, an estimated ten thousand Muslims turned up outside the London offices of Google, to protest the company’s refusal to ban the “Innocence of Muslims” video… which, incidentally, the UK Telegraph describes as “an American-produced film which insults the Prophet Mohammad and demeans Muslims.” That description will bring a grimace to the faces of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who have made it clear they don’t like to think of the film as “American-produced.”
Also, it remains interesting how casually and reflexively editors in Western publications refer to “the Prophet Mohammad.” It’s rare to find an article that doesn’t include such a presumption of divine authority in its first reference to Mohammad, rather than simply using his name. You never hear them refer to “the Messiah Jesus” or anything like that. They’re not quite up to automatically inserting “peace be upon him” after Mohammad’s name yet, but give them time.
This is supposed to be the first of many protests around the world, according to organizers, who are hoping to put a million people in Hyde Park during the next few weeks. The Telegraph describes the scene:
Barricades were erected in front of Google’s headquarters and a crowd bearing placards with the words “We love our prophet more than our lives” and “Prophet Muhammad is the founder of freedom of speech” had amassed by lunchtime.
Speeches by more than a dozen imams in a mixture of Arabic, Urdu, and English urged Muslims to honour the name of the Prophet and not to back down in the face of Google’s continuing reluctance to act, and were met with passionate cries of “God is Great” and “Mohammad is the Prophet of God” in Arabic.
Muslims were urged “not to back down in the face of Google’s continuing reluctance to act?” How perfectly Orwellian. But we’re headed right into Room 101 with Winston Smith when the leaders of the protest offer their thoughts on what “freedom of speech” and “terrorism” mean:
One of the speakers, Sheikh Faiz Al-Aqtab Siddiqui, told The Daily Telegraph: “Terrorism is not just people who kill human bodies, but who kill human feelings as well. The makers of this film have terrorised 1.6 billion people.
“Organisations like Google are key players and have to take responsibility for civility. You can’t just say it doesn’t matter that it’s freedom of speech. It’s anarchy.”
Sheikh Siddiqui, a barrister from Nuneaton, said he wanted to form a coalition with the Church of England, Catholics, Jewish groups, Trade Unions and even Conservatives to encourage their ranks to join his “campaign for civility”.
“We want everyone in society to recognise these people are wrecking our fragile global society. We want the Church, the Synod, Jewish groups and establishment figures involved,” he said.
(Emphases mine.) Nice global society you have here, infidels. It would be a shame if something bad were to happen to it. And if something bad does happen, you’ve got it coming, because free speech that offends Muslims is morally equivalent to flying jetliners into skyscrapers and killing thousands of people.
These people have had plenty of time to digest the existence of “Innocence of Muslims,” and ponder the need to reconcile their religious laws with freedom of speech. Their response is to assert the “heckler’s veto” on a global scale. It’s a fairly naked demand to install sharia speech codes above free speech protection, as the minimum price for maintaining a civil society. They seem to have absorbed the idea of cracking open the freedom of speech barrier by using the “fighting words” exception as a crowbar.
And they seem to be making an effort to cultivate support from other religious groups, who might be a little tired of suffering insults to their faith from nihilistic popular culture. The problem for these Muslim protesters is that Catholics, Jews, and Anglicans are probably under no illusions about whether their faith traditions would be immune to criticism in the brave new world of restricted intellectual liberty. You’ll never seem them marching outside the offices of media organizations with placards that say anything equivalent to “We love our Prophet more than our lives,” while muttering about the fragility of global civilization.