The cascading crisis involving derogatory depictions of Islam’s prophet, Mohammed, by amateur American filmmakers and French satirists has reinvigorated a 20-year-old demand from the Muslim world for a Western crackdown on free speech. This demand has been made by Egypt’s Salafist Nour party, by Iran’s theocrats, by Hezbollah, and, not least, by the al-Qaeda-linked groups that on September 11 and the days immediately following attacked and rioted against our embassies and interests in two dozen Muslim countries, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and 51 others and injuring hundreds. It is also being pressed on the diplomatic front by Muslim governments allied to the U.S.
Without doubt, the uproar over the twelve-minute video Innocence of Muslims is the result of ulterior motives and political manipulations as Islamists jockey for power. Nevertheless, and not for the first time, large populations have been incited to violence by these cynical and opportunistic forces. It is important to respond in a principled and coherent way.