Let’s not try to whitewash things. The bad guys have won — those guys from the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaida, the Islamic State, whatever you want to call them. They’ve beaten us big time in the battle for freedom of expression.
All of Europe is shaking and so is America. Now there is no cartoonist or publisher who would dare start up with them. They’re all trembling in fear. Personally, I’ve felt threatened ever since the storm over the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed in 2005. I don’t go near the subject. The ramifications are clear.
The French government had in the past asked the people at Charlie Hebdo to stop publishing illustrations that ignored the sensitivities of radical Islam. No similar requests were made regarding cartoons lampooning the rabbinate or the Vatican, and there certainly were such cartoons.
Islamic extremists in Europe trumped freedom of expression back when they slaughtered Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam over his documentary film about female genital mutilation among Muslim women in Holland. Against Salman Rushdie they issued a fatwa sentencing him to death because of his book “The Satanic Verses” and he was forced to hire personal bodyguards and go into hiding for many years.
Not long ago, I saw television reporter Zvi Yehezkeli walking around London in the company of a Muslim preacher, who was explaining, on camera, how lovely life would be in Britain under sharia law. Marriage to 12-year-old girls, cutting off hands, and decapitations – great fun. La dolce vita. Ah, but he forgot the most important thing – they will kill all the infidels. That’s exactly what they did to my French colleagues, whose only sin was to draw pictures. That’s what I call multiculturalism.
Everyone’s afraid, but there will always be those kamikazes, like the journalists at Charlie Hebdo. They are few and far between, and truly courageous. I’d been following their editions, and I knew it would end badly. It couldn’t have been otherwise. The French government also knew, and did nothing to stop it.
Now the leaders of France, Britain and Germany will speak, babble, and prattle. The bitter truth is that there isn’t much more they can do. The bad guys have already won.
Perhaps we should start studying sharia law.
Amos Biderman is a cartoonist at Haaretz.