Amid the rioting, President Obama called on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan for political support. Erdogan obliged by condemning violence against U.S. personnel in Libya, but he identified the video as "provocation" -- indeed, all the more reason for blasphemy laws. When free speech "is in the form of a provocation," Erdogan said, "there should be international legal regulations against attacks ... on religion." There should be domestic laws, too, he said, continuing: "Freedom of thought and belief ends where the freedom of thought and belief of others starts."
That's not how it works in the West. But such Shariah norms are what all of Islam -- not just a "tiny band of extremists" -- is pressing on us. A survey of the week's news in the Islamic world reveals that whether terror kingpins (Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah and Indonesia's convicted Abu Bakar Bashir) or Islamic scholar (Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb), whether smashing U.S. Embassy windows in Yemen or meeting in the offices of the Arab League, whether Pakistani lawyers or Hamas fighters, whether under U.S. sanctions (Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) or an Obama ally (Turkey's Erdogan), the Islamic world is speaking in one voice. Criticism of Islam must be outlawed, and violators punished.
And more audaciously than ever. Just this week, an Iranian group increased the bounty on Salman Rushdie's fatwa'ed head to 2.5 million euros for "insulting" Islam 23 years ago in his novel "The Satanic Verses." The influential Union of Islamic Scholars, headed by Muslim Brotherhood spiritual adviser Yusuf al-Qaradawi, demanded that Pope Benedict XVI apologize for his 2006 address in Regensburg, Germany, linking Islam and violence. Egyptian cleric Ahmad Fouad Ashoush issued a fatwa (death sentence) against the cast and crew of "Innocence of Muslims." The Pakistani government declared a national holiday for anti-U.S. protests. And the Egyptian government, still begging for U.S. cash, not only sentenced an Egyptian Christian to six years in jail this week for "insulting the prophet" (and Egypt's president and a lawyer), it also issued arrest warrants for six U.S.-based Egyptians who made the "offending" film and pastor Terry Jones for promoting it.
This is what a world without the First Amendment looks like. In the eyes of the Obama White House, however, the First Amendment is just an obstacle to synchronicity with the Islamic world. They are right, of course. That makes it our lifeline to liberty.