Previously Islamist terror attacks in the West were rather random in their choice of victims. They killed airplane passengers and people in the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Other attacks targeted people riding trains or at train stations, and people at the Boston Marathon.
But in the Charlie Hebdo case, they targeted a publication that had published cartoons that offended them. In fairness I must point out that I saw a number of Charlie Hebdo cartoons searching for an illustration for this blog post and I saw a lot of material from Charlie Hebdo that any objective observer must admit was disrespectful and in some cases hateful toward Muslims. (Other material had nasty stuff aimed at Jews and Christians.)
Not only did they target this publication, but they managed to kill targets that were responsible for the content of the magazine rather than a bunch of random secretaries.
This is a frightening phenomenon. In Muslim-majority countries of course the Islamists have been able to terrorize the press and make it unlikely that things offensive to the Islamists will get published. But in the West, they haven’t been able to really put the fear into the press and public. When publications in the West have refused to reprint cartoons of Mohammed, they have been more worried about inciting riots in the Muslim world and protests in the West. But now there will be a concern for the very lives of those who offend the Islamists with their words.
There is a Christian television show I used to watch. Their broadcasts go around the world. I remember more than once they told the story of a Muslim person who saw their show’s international version and gave their lives over to Christ. Both Islamists and most ordinary Muslims would be offended by that. In most Muslim countries there are ‘apostasy’ laws which make it illegal for a Muslim (or the child of Muslims) to convert to another religion.
What happens if Islamists make threats, or carry out threats, against Christian ministries who preach to Muslims and point out the flaws in the Muslim world-view? I predict that many ministries will change the content of their programming out of fear. It’s possible also that cable and satellite television companies will refuse to carry the programming of anyone who puts out material that offends Muslims. And that would be a frightening thing. We NEED to have information about Islam in today’s world, and we especially need the kind of information that the Islamists don’t want us to have.
I don’t dislike Muslims. They are children of God. They worship the God of Abraham as we do, and they accept Jesus Christ as a prophet even though they reject Him as the Son of God. Many Muslims in their devotion to the five pillars of Islam, which includes daily prayers and charitable works, can serve as inspiration to Christians.
But I don’t want to see a world where no one dares to say anything that Muslims might not like, while hateful speech against Jews and Christians remains socially acceptable and widely available.
The concept of free speech has been expanded to include the right to publish and promote porn, which was not the original intention. What was intended was that there should be a free exchange of ideas, even if some people were offended. The new phase of Islamist terror is a threat to that form of free speech. We need to fight that.