Irvine, CA–An al Qaeda representative in Iraq recently called for the murder of an artist and his editor after a Swedish newspaper published a sketch of Muhammad’s head on the body of a dog. The sketch appeared alongside an editorial decrying self-censorship by Swedish museums that refused to display the sketch for fear of Muslim reprisals.

“This death threat is the latest consequence of the West’s disgraceful failure to stand up for free speech in the face of Islamic totalitarians’ attempt to squash it,” said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.

“Islamic totalitarians are enemies of free speech. Nations like Iran, for instance, suppress the speech of their own citizens, punishing those who criticize Islam, and actively seek to extend these brutal policies worldwide. In 1989, for instance, Iran’s ruler Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the murder of British writer Salman Rushdie following the publication of Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses. More recently, in the wake of the publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons satirizing Muhammad, Islamists across the Middle East rioted and called for the death of the cartoonists.

“In both cases, most Western leaders refused to stand up for the principle of free speech. Indeed, some leaders denounced as equally offensive both the publications and the Islamists’ decree to murder those who created and published them. Such craven appeasement has emboldened the Islamists and helped spawn an alarming trend of self-censorship in the West–the very trend that inspired the Swedish paper to publish the Muhammad sketch.

“If we are to end the jihadists’ attempts to silence the West, Western leaders must stop apologizing, denounce the jihadists as immoral enemies of freedom, and defiantly assert their citizens’ right to free speech.”

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