A majority–including among Muslims–decry the violence. But when different laws and cultural norms about free speech clash, the outcome can be tragic.
In a context where insults to religion are crimes and the state has tightly controlled almost all media, many in Egypt, like other Arab countries, sometimes find it hard to understand that the American government feels limited by its free speech rules from silencing even the most noxious religious bigot.
And now for something completely different, as they say…compare and contrast the Arab Street to the Mormon Pew, via Bret Stephens in WSJ:
And, finally, this: That the most “progressive” administration in recent U.S. history will make no principled defense of free speech to a Muslim world that could stand hearing such a defense. After the debut of “The Book of Mormon” musical, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded with this statement: “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”
That was it. The People’s Front for the Liberation of Provo will not be gunning for a theater near you. Is it asking too much of religious and political leaders in Muslim communities to adopt a similar attitude?
It needn’t be. A principled defense of free speech could start by quoting the Quran: “And it has already come down to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah [recited], they are denied [by them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation.” In this light, the true test of religious conviction is indifference, not susceptibility, to mockery.