Here’s Something You Don’t See Every Day: The Government of Pakistan Has Charged Me With Blasphemy

New in PJ Media:

The email came in Monday from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the Pakistani government’s agency for regulating online communications. In thick legalese, it charged that my website Jihad Watch (the “Platform”) “is involved in dissemination of content against religion of Islam/Muslims, caricatures of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),” as well as in “circulating false rumors/reports against Muslims.” We don’t actually distribute any false reports or rumors, but we have stood up for the freedom of speech by publishing caricatures of Muhammad; the government of Pakistan professes to find that “outrageous” and claims that it is “severely hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims.” The post that is severely hurting Muslim sentiments turns out to be one from May 2015. Now that’s a slow burn.

… that has the Pakistani government enraged and Muslims allegedly sobbing is an announcement that the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest that Pamela Geller and I organized in Garland, Texas, in May 2015 was sold out, and an excerpt from a Breitbart article about the event. It’s unclear why Pakistan has been so slow on the uptake here, and is only now getting around to warning me about my blasphemous conduct. One reason, of course, could be because issues of “blasphemy” and the freedom of speech are once again in the news because of the Qur’an-burning in Sweden, and so this old post somehow made its way to the desk of a bureaucrat in Islamabad.

Anyway, this notice from the Pakistani government, and our Muhammad cartoon event back in 2015, demonstrate the fact that there really is a clash of civilizations, for there are two irreconcilable perspectives at play here. One is the idea that the freedom of expression is an important right, even if one’s expression offends someone else, for to outlaw offending some particular group would be to set up that group as above criticism, and that would pave the way for tyranny. The other is the idea that because Muslims are offended by drawings of Muhammad, and some even become violent as a result of these drawings, non-Muslims must curtail their freedom of expression in order to avoid offending them, although no one is granting any other group the privilege not to be offended. The West continues to ignore the irreconcilability of those two perspectives and pretend that it can somehow come to some accommodation between the two. But it will only do so ultimately by sacrificing the freedom of speech, which is the way it’s heading now, or by standing up for that freedom even in the face of violent intimidation.

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