The Times of London, staid as ever, reported it all with a straight face on Friday: “Police have told a French teenager to go into hiding after she received death threats for insulting Islam.” That’s right, a teenager in France, not in Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia, or Iran. Now insulting Islam forces you to flee for your life right in Emmanuel Macron’s paradise of multiculturalism.
And wait, it gets worse. We’re not told what she said, of course – that would be just too much for delicate modern ears to take – but note that the Times said she insulted “Islam,” not “Muslims.” This distinction is lost on many today, but assuming that the Times still has some residual concern for precision in reporting, we can justifiably assume that the girl criticized a set of ideas and beliefs, not a group of people.
This is a key distinction, for people cannot change certain immutable characteristics (race and, yes, gender), and thus it would be wrong to denigrate them on the basis of those characteristics. But ideas? They should be evaluated on their merits, and free criticism of them by those who do not hold them is a foundation of free inquiry and thus of a free society. Isn’t it?
Well, it has been up until recently. Ordinarily in the West, those who criticize ideas, particularly religious ideas, are celebrated as heroes, courageous “free thinkers,” unshackled by dogma and superstition. But of course that only applies to Christianity and Judaism. Criticizing Islam, well! That’s entirely a different matter, and no laughing matter, infidel!
For insulting Islam, this 16-year-old girl, whom the Times tells us is “named only as Mila,” has been forced into hiding: “The 16-year-old has been advised to stay away from her lycée (sixth-form college) in southeast France after calls on the internet for her to be killed, raped or attacked.”
Even that isn’t the final absurdity and outrage of this disgraceful episode: Mila “is understood to have been told by officials that she should avoid being seen in public until the controversy fades. She is being given psychological support by the local prosecutor’s office. Prosecutors said two separate criminal inquiries were under way, the first to track the authors of threats to kill and rape the teenager, the second to determine whether her comments amounted to the offence of hate speech.”
Let me get this straight. She has been told to stay away from school after calls for her to be raped and killed. She is being given psychological support. That support is being provided by “the local prosecutor’s office,” which at the same time is trying to decide whether or not to charge the girl they are protecting from rape and death threats with “hate speech.”
To be sure, prosecutors are also attempting “to track the authors of threats to kill and rape the teenager,” but that doesn’t get her off the hook. Insulting Islam is serious business in Karachi — that is, Paris — these days, and the fact that she might be raped and murdered for expressing a less than rosily favorable view of the Religion of Peace does not give her a license to flout the Sharia — that is, French law.
What’s that? The prosecutors should be standing up for the freedom of speech, and the right to criticize ideas? In France, in 2020? How quaint. Are you going to suggest next that they show up for their proceedings in horse-drawn carriages? That would please Greta Thunberg, and so it may be coming soon, but it is still a few years down the road (at least ten or twelve). But Islamic blasphemy laws? They are upon us right now. The plight of young Mila shows it. If she had excoriated Christianity, or climate change denial, she would be going to photoshoots for the cover of Time and Newsweek right now. Her error was that she chose the wrong set of ideas to insult. In France today, Sharia blasphemy laws are the wave of the future.
And who knows? If the supporters of the saintly former President who once announced that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” succeed in their quest to destroy President Trump and place an ideological heir of that famously Sharia-adherent President in the White House, this incident could be a glimpse into our future as well. American girls, grab your hijabs! You don’t want to be caught behind the cultural trends, do you?
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.