Samuel Paty, the French schoolteacher who was recently beheaded for showing his class a cartoon of Islam’s prophet Muhammad, was a “cursed individual,” an “evil-spirited man,” a “filthy excuse for a human being,” according to the Canada-based imam and Islamic scholar Younus Kathrada. The learned imam complained that Muslims had objected to Muhammad cartoons for years, but “nobody bothered listening.” However, Kathrada quickly picked up an ally who echoed his remarks, albeit more mildly: asked about the cartoons, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “Freedom of expression is not without limits.”
Those limits include, apparently, material that offends Muslims. Trudeau explained: “We will always defend freedom of expression. But freedom of expression is not without limits. We owe it to ourselves to act with respect for others and to seek not to arbitrarily or unnecessarily injure those with whom we are sharing a society and a planet.”
Trudeau reached for a hoary example: “We do not have the right for example to shout fire in a movie theatre crowded with people, there are always limits.”
Yes. There is no right to incitement to violence or criminal activity. Deliberately causing a panic when there is nothing to panic about, however, is markedly different from doing something entirely innocuous, i.e., drawing a cartoon, that offends the sensibilities of a particular group. If offense to a group, any group, is criminalized, that group has a free hand to do whatever it wants, including illegal activity, up to and including the imposition of tyrannical rule, without fear of opposition.
Instead of the equality of rights of all people before the law, a special protected class is established with privileges beyond those of other groups. Thus what Justin Trudeau is saying here subverts the very idea of a free society.
Trudeau himself, however, actually cloaked his surrender to violent intimidation in the garb of the very pluralism he was advocating be effectively destroyed: “In a pluralist, diverse and respectful society like ours, we owe it to ourselves to be aware of the impact of our words, of our actions on others, particularly these communities and populations who still experience a great deal of discrimination.”
He could have been responding to Kathrada’s complaint about how Muslim rage over the Muhammad cartoons had been ignored for years: “We know that some years ago, in some European countries, they published cartoons, claiming that these were depictions of the Prophet, insulting cartoons, depicting him as a criminal. That happened some years ago, and more recently it has happened again. Of course the Muslims objected, years ago, and the Muslims objected again, but this time, not as strongly as they did before. But nobody bothered… Nobody paid attention to what the Muslims said… And why should they? Because we, now, are a humiliated people – there is no worth to us – so nobody bothered listening.” This happened again, he said, just recently: “In any event, not too long ago, a teacher in France chose to show those insulting cartoons to his class, at school. And of course, some of the Muslim students who were there were very annoyed and upset and they objected – as did their parents. They spoke up, but nobody bothered listening to them. Nobody paid any attention to them.”
Kathrada need not continue to nurse his hurt feelings: Justin Trudeau appears ready to make sure that Muslims are “a humiliated people” no more, even at the expense of one of the principal foundations of any free society.
Trudeau, however, would be well advised to listen carefully and ponder the implications of some of the other things Kathrada said, particularly his characterization of Paty and the jihadi who beheaded him: “Then, about a week ago, it is said – I repeat, it is said – that a young Muslim man confronted this cursed individual, he confronted this evil-spirited man, he confronted this filthy excuse for a human being, on the street, and he beheaded him.”
Kathrada gave no hint that he was upset about the murder. It was not Paty’s murderer who was a “cursed individual,” an “evil-spirited man,” a “filthy excuse for a human being”; these epithets were reserved only for the man who dared to show a Muhammad cartoon and was murdered for doing so. Kathrada also prayed: “Oh Allah, give strength to Islam and Muslims, and humiliate the infidels and the polytheists. Oh Allah, destroy the enemies of Islam, and annihilate the heretics and the atheists….Oh Allah, support those who wage jihad for Your same everywhere….Oh Allah, annihilate all those who slandered Your Prophet Muhammad.”
A prayer to Allah to “destroy the enemies of Islam, and annihilate the heretics and the atheists” is not just a request directed to the deity. The Qur’an explicitly says that Allah will punish people by the hands of the believers: “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy the breasts of a believing people, and remove the fury in the believers’ hearts.” (9:14-15) Thus Kathrada may be issuing a call to action to believers who think it incumbent upon themselves to heed this Qur’anic directive and become instruments of Allah’s wrath.
The upshot of this is that Trudeau may soon find that he will have to limit the freedom of expression not just out of “respect” for Muslims, but out of the genuine concern that if he doesn’t, some Muslims will commit acts of violence in Canada. Standing up for the freedom of speech and stopping this violent thuggery doesn’t seem to be on the table, at least not in the worker’s paradise to our immediate north.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 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 Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.