Charlie Hebdo published a front page showing a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign saying “Je suis Charlie” in its first edition since Islamic terrorists attacked the Paris offices of the satirical newspaper last week.
With demand surging for the new edition, the weekly planned to print up to 3 million copies, dwarfing its usual run of 60,000, after newsagents reported a rush of orders. Digital versions were to be posted in English, Spanish and Arabic, while print editions in Italian and Turkish were also to appear.
Of course there is only one way that we — the West — can be forgiven, and that is by submission to Islam. Which is why, despite the fact that we may find some of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons in poor taste and despite the fact that most of us really don’t want to insult Muslims in general, we must publish them.
We must publish and republish them, because now if we don’t do so, we accept that Islamic jihadists have the right to control our actions, in the most violent way possible. And that is unacceptable.
We need to hit back as hard as we can at the jihadists, and at the same time we cannot limit our expression out of fear of violence.
Once we allow them to limit us in their terms, there’s no end to it. If we agree that, out of good taste and consideration for their sensitivities, we won’t publish certain cartoons or show certain films, then what do we do when they say that beer for sale in supermarkets, women with uncovered faces, or church steeples higher than mosque minarets are just as offensive to them?
The craven reaction of the Obama Administration to the “Innocence of Muslims” film trailer in 2012 is a perfect example of how not to react to Islamic pressure. The “filmmaker” (I put this in quotes because there was no film other than the 15-minute trailer) was arrested and jailed after the trailer was falsely blamed for provoking the al-Qaeda attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
Free expression can be ugly, too. We see this in the US, where there are almost no limits on what can be published or how people can express themselves on public property. But Islamic violence is much uglier.
If we think Western values are worth protecting, then we have to protect them. Use your rights, or lose them. Don’t submit.