France suppresses Islam critics
On January 20, 2018, French author Pierre Cassen was convicted of "incitement to hatred against Muslims" and fined heavily. He was also given a three-month suspended prison sentence. Soon, Cassen will be tried for the same "crime", and could be sent to prison.
Published: March 20, 2018, 9:46 am
Several European governments have come down on Islam’s critics by means of prosecutions and convictions. British, Danish and German citizens have already been handed suspended sentences, but if Pierre Cassen is imprisoned, it will be the first time that a citizen in a Western democracy is sent to prison for criticizing a religion.
Surprisingly Cassen is not the author of the article targeted by French judges stating that extremist Muslims are at war with France and the West, and that incitement to kill unbelievers is present in the Quran.
Cassen was sentenced as the editor of Riposte Laïque, but the publication has been hosted by Switzerland and has a Swiss editor. Cassen is no longer involved officially in the organisation, but he is being singled out because he lives in France.
Fleeing prosecutorial abuse in France, Cassen is in fact planning to apply for political asylum in Switzerland.
Since the election of President Emmanuel Macron a year ago, free speech is under pressure. On June 20, 2017, President Macron stated that “…no one should make believe that Islam is not compatible with the Republic” adding that “no one should say that France rejects Muslim faith” and “attempt to give Islam the image of a religion condoning murder and terror”.
Two members of the French National Assembly, Marine Le Pen and Gilbert Collard from the FN party, were also recently charged with “inciting violence”. Both had tweeted photos showing atrocities committed by the Islamic State. Both are facing heavy fines and prison sentences even though the photos they tweeted are widely available on the internet.
Originally, Collard and Le Pen were protected by parliamentary immunity, but it was revoked by an almost unanimous vote in the French National Assembly. Elected members of a Western democracy now risk being imprisoned for publishing widely available photos of Islamic crimes.
French laws are being used to suppress criticism of Islam through a dangerous inversion of reality: critics of terror are now systematically presented by French judges as examples of incitement to hatred and violence.
Houria Bouteldja, the spokesperson for a French Islamic movement, published a book noting that the Holocaust is “infinitely less than a detail” of history, but is left alone by the media.
In France, attacks against Islam are actually rare, but lead to severe convictions: in January 2016, a man dropped slices of ham in front of a mosque. He was subsequently sent to jail for several weeks.
On the other hand, attacks against Christianity are numerous and violent, but almost never lead to convictions. In a play called “On the Concept of the Face of God,” currently touring the country, for almost two hours, a large portrait of Jesus Christ is insulted and covered in feces. The French Ministry of Culture is subsidizing the production.
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