Chilling footage, apparently taken by terrified onlookers as two masked Jihadists gunned down two French police officers and at least ten journalists in cold blood earlier today. Screams of "Allahu Akbar," -- "God is great" in Arabic -- echo down the street amid the gunfire. Via FranceTV (click through if video embed is down):
Journalist Claire Berlinski, who was coincidentally in the vicinity of the terrorist attack, filed this report:
What we know is this: at least two masked attackers. Kalashnikovs. Gunmen who shouted, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad.” Rumors of a rocket launcher, but I suspect we should wait for confirmation on that; eyewitnesses tend to get confused about these things, especially when unused to seeing them. The latest tweet on Charlie Hebdo’s Twitter account was a cartoon of [ISIS leader] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi."
The conclusion of her emotional dispatch is courageous and defiant. Read it. The motive here is clear. Radical Muslims (whom authorities believe to have been "well trained") massacred innocent people at a satirical magazine as retribution for their refusal to exclude Islam as a target of their mockery. Kevin linked to several of the "offending" cartoons earlier, and the Free Beacon has also republished a number of them as a tribute to the fallen. Shamefully, several western media outlets have censored those images, giving the radicals precisely what they seek. Some prominent Islamists are defending today's bloodshed, predictably blaming the victims and attempting to redefine freedom. In doing so, they reveal themselves as enemies of freedom:
Freedom of expression does not extend to insulting the Prophets of Allah, whatever your views on the events in Paris today! #ParisShooting— Anjem Choudary (@anjemchoudary) January 7, 2015
That man was born and raised in Britain, by the way. Other Muslims are rightly horrified:
There has been, and will be, much hand-wringing about the proprietary judgment behind publishing "inflammatory" cartoons and content. Conn touched on one such controversy involving the Obama White House and this very magazine earlier. I also suspect we'll be hearing more about the president's infamous post-Benghazi quote about the future not belonging to "those who slander the prophet of Islam." I won't travel down that road in this post. Whether potentially offensive speech and expression is prudent, or wise, or right is besides the point, insofar as the core principal of freedom is concerned. Mainstream, anodyne speech is easy to protect because virtually nobody objects to it. It's controversial, nettlesome, provocative expression that tests the principle. While some in the press are utterly failing that test today (see above), others are not:
I'll leave you with two thoughts on appeasement. A 2006 poll showed that nearly eight in ten British Muslims agreed that the publishers of the Danish Mohammad cartoons should be legally prosecuted. A large majority rejected Sharia law in the UK, but a sizable minority (30 percent) disagreed. Nineteen percent listed Osama Bin Laden as someone they respected. The late Christopher Hitchens passionately explained why walking on eggshells to avoid offending Islamists is a liberty-crushing fool's errand (the key bit starts around 4:20, via Jamie Weinstein):
Long live freedom. Vive la France. Juis Suis Charlie.