It is one of the world's great religions, with more followers than any other. But in an op-ed piece in today's Wall Street Journal, attorney Elizabeth Samson shows how those seeking to defend Islam are taking a disturbing path.
Jordan's attempt to prosecute a dozen Europeans, including parliamentarian/filmmaker Geert Wilders and the editors of Danish newspapers that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed, for blasphemy and demeaning Islam is the latest in a series of attempts to criminalize criticism of the faith, even when it is about its most radical adherents, Samson writes.
She cites two United Nations actions – a General Assembly resolution on "Combating Defamation of Religions" which names only Islam; and a Human Rights Council decision to abstain from criticizing human rights abuses tied to religious practices.
The Jordanian case invokes a law passed in the wake of the Danish cartoons and is not limited to writings or speech made in Jordan itself. Neither Denmark nor the Netherlands are heeding Jordan's calls to arrest the suspects. Samson challenges the free world to speak in a loud voice condemning the very idea of these prosecutions:
"Unless democratic countries stand up to this challenge to free speech, other nations may be emboldened to follow the Jordanian example. Kangaroo courts across the globe will be ready to charge free people with obscure violations of other societies' norms and customs, and send Interpol to bring them to stand trial in frivolous litigation."