The Berlin opera house, Deutsche Oper, has called off a production of Mozart’s “Idomeneo” for fear that a scene featuring the severed head of Islam’s prophet might lead to violence. This confirms the warnings, made by defenders of free speech during the Danish cartoon crisis, that the failure of Western governments to respond decisively to the death threats from offended Muslims could lead to self-censorship in the West.

“This decision demonstrates the disgraceful failure of Western governments to defend our right to free speech,” said Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.

“In 1989, when the Iranian Mullahs issued a fatwa calling for Muslims to murder Salman Rushdie and attack his publisher, Western governments did nothing. Last year, when violent mobs threatened the lives of the Danish cartoonists, Western governments did nothing. If a government does not ensure its citizens are able to express their views without fear of violent reprisals, free speech is dead.

“Western governments must reverse their trend of appeasement and declare their commitment to ruthlessly punish anyone who attempts to violate their citizens’ right to freedom of speech.”

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