Europe’s War on Free Speech


The Amsterdam Court of Appeals has ordered the criminal prosecution of a Dutch Member of Parliament for criticizing Islam. The court’s ruling overturns a previous decision by Dutch public prosecutors, who had determined that there was not enough evidence to charge Geert Wilders, leader of the conservative Freedom Party, for hate crimes after he produced a hard-hitting film that says Islam promotes violence. In a written judgment, the appeals court said that “by attacking the symbols of the Muslim religion, [Wilders] also insulted Muslim believers.”

The ruling will please the Dutch Muslim immigrant groups who asked the appeals court to force the justice department to prosecute Wilders for expressing his opinions. But many others say the prosecution is an alarming attack on free speech by politically correct activist judges who are trying to silence criticism of the growing power of Islam in Europe.

Wilders, who frequently speaks out against the “Islamization” of the Netherlands, said “the judgment of the court [is] an attack on the freedom of expression.... Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted.... Who will stand up for our culture if I am silenced?”

Of course, Wilders is only the latest in a line of Dutch citizens who have run afoul of the pro-Muslim thought police in post-Christian Holland. In 2002, Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated for his views on Islam and Muslim immigration. In 2004, Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh was stabbed to death for producing a movie that criticized Islam. In 2006, former Dutch lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali was forced to flee the country after criticizing the mistreatment of women in Islamic societies.

What makes the Wilders case different, however, is that the Dutch state itself is now caving in to pressure from Muslim immigrants who seek to criminalize any opinions that could be deemed to insult Islam or criticize Muslim immigration.

But Holland is not the only European country at war with the exercise of free speech. In Austria, for example, Member of Parliament Susanne Winter was convicted for the “crime” of saying that “in today’s system” the Prophet Muhammad would be considered a “child molester,” referring to his marriage to a six-year-old child. She was also convicted for “incitement” for warning that Austria faces an “Islamic immigration tsunami.”

In Italy, the journalist and author Oriana Fallaci was taken to court for writing that Islam “brings hate instead of love and slavery instead of freedom.” She died in September 2006, two months after the start of her trial. In France, novelist Michel Houellebecq was taken to court for calling Islam “the stupidest religion.” He was acquitted in October 2002. More recently, animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot was convicted in June 2008 by a Paris court for “inciting racial hatred” for demanding that Muslims anaesthetize animals before slaughtering them.

In Britain, the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which creates a new crime of intentionally stirring up religious hatred against people on religious grounds, has led to zealousness bordering on the absurd. In Nottingham, for example, the Greenwood Primary School cancelled a Christmas nativity play because it interfered with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. In Scarborough, the Yorkshire Coast College removed the words Christmas and Easter from their calendar so as not to offend Muslims. In Scotland, the Tayside Police Department apologized for featuring a German shepherd puppy as part of a campaign to publicize its new non-emergency telephone number. The postcards are potentially offensive to city’s 3,000-strong Muslim community because Islamic legal tradition says that dogs are impure.

In Glasgow, a Christian radio show host was fired after a debate between a Muslim and a Christian on whether Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.” In Cheshire, two students at the Alsager High School were punished by their teacher for refusing to pray to Allah as part of their Religious Education class. In East London, all elected members of Tower Hamlets town council were told not to eat during daylight hours in town hall meetings during the Muslim month of Ramadan. Special arrangements were also made to disrupt council meetings to allow for Muslim prayer. Meanwhile, the council renamed a staff Christmas party as a “festive meal”.

Nor are Muslims the only ones trying to restrict free speech in Europe. In Britain, for example, the government is facing pressure from homosexual rights activists to overturn a free speech protection amendment added to a controversial “gay hate” law. The free speech protection clause, which states that criticizing homosexual practice or urging people to refrain from such conduct will not, in itself, be a crime, was added to the new offense of “incitement to homophobic hatred.” But now the government wants to remove that protection. The crime of inciting homophobic hatred includes any words or behavior which is threatening and intended to stir up hatred. It carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

At the European level, meanwhile, government ministers from the 27 member states of the European Union are debating a draft EU Directive that aims to outlaw discrimination and “harassment” in the provision of goods and services. The new legislation would, for example, shut down Christian adoption agencies if they refuse to provide same-sex couples with children. Indeed, the definition of “harassment” is so broad that even moderate explanations of Christian beliefs on sexual conduct or other religions could be considered a crime.

Europe’s war on free speech is the result of a profound identity crisis, one that is being generated by the blanket abandonment of traditional Judeo-Christian values coupled with mass immigration from Muslim countries. But in their zeal to criminalize free thought and free speech, the leftwing guardians of Orwellian political correctness are systematically destroying European democracy.

Not only are European elites using hate crime legislation to silence people with opinions that do not conform to official state policies. They are also dividing Europeans into two groups (the majority and the minority), each with different rights and responsibilities. The minority (Muslims, homosexuals, Socialists) is imposing its will upon the majority (non-Muslim, heterosexuals, non-Socialists) by aggressively prosecuting those who refuse to fall into line.

Europeans lack an American-like First Amendment, which means they can be punished for expressing the “wrong” opinions. But Europe’s war on free speech should serve as a warning to Americans about the perils of complacency. Indeed, the Obama administration says it intends to “strengthen federal hate crimes legislation, expand hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice’s Criminal Section.” Some politicians have also expressed support for re-imposing the Fairness Doctrine, which would effectively censor the opinions of tens of millions of Americans.

More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned of the slow drift from freedom to tyranny when he observed that “there are rights which it is useless to surrender to the government and which governments have yet always been found to invade. These are the rights of thinking and publishing our thoughts by speaking or writing.”

Will the United States follow in Europe’s footsteps?



This article was first published by Pajama’s Media on January 30, 2009

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group


The freedom to hate.

The freedom of speech does include the freedom of hatred. If I decide to hate blue-eyed people, who can stop me? As long as I follow the law, who can blame me for prefering green-eyed people in my life? I can even say out loud that I find blue eyes unpleasant to look at! There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Yet, I would consider myself an idiot to judge people by something they can't influence. The fact that we CAN do something doesn't lead us to doing it, right?

But once somebody claims to be a follower of a certain holy book or manifest, I am completely free to judge that person based on that fact. And hatred has absolutely nothing to do with that anymore! I don't hate muslims, I merely understand their holy book to be in direct contradiction to my values, my existence, good manners and the laws of the country I live in. Christianity and Judaism are not doing much better in my eyes, to be honest. Naturally, if I am free to hate, I am even more free to express an unhateful, logical conclusion.

I have a friend who really hates gays. And I have a friend who happens to be gay. And I don't think there's anything wrong with either of them. Most importantly, all 3 of us see Islam as a threat to our lifestyle.

Oops, she's peeking!

Having the misfortune to have been born under the sign of Libra, I find it cruel to discover the blindfolded lady now actually sees the justice she delivers,with one eye open. PC'ers, the many, will call us jaundiced, but what of the macular degeneration? Has the Lord appeared before her, and healed her sight that she may now see what the multi-culturalists desire she see?

Just wondering, but may I trust any horoscope ever again?

War on western world

It must be understood that GLOBAL ELITE IS NOW CARRYING OUT A WAR AGAINST WESTERN CIVILIZATION AND WESTERN PEOPLE. This is the ugly truth we are facing : the destruction by occidental elites of their own world. Islamic immigration is only one of the means used for achieving that. Other means are used : destruction of moral values, financial globalization, destruction of national sovereign power and freedom of speech, etc.

War on the West 2

Amen, Ribera. Western man is free because Christianity acknowledges his transcendental identity that cannot be monopolized by any worldly power. Hence the doctrine of government by consent, a fundamental Western principle whether the government in question is monarchical or republican. Out of self-interest or ideological fervor, the Western elites now seek to place their governance beyond the reach of Western self-government, self-determination, and liberty. Westerners must renew their jealousy of infringements on constitutional order and reestablish individual, local, and national jurisdictions in their proper arrangements. International jurisdiction should be peripheral, trivial, and revocable.

The present economic downturn exposes the risk to nations of placing all their eggs in the international basket. The elites will use it as an excuse to aggrandize their power. The Western peoples should resist in the name of liberty and self-determination, as well as simple prudence and self-respect.

America?# 6

@ Frank Lee

Obviously, your question cannot be easily answered.  Once the ginny is out of the bottle, it is very hard to put it back.  When freedom of political speech has been lost, it is very difficult to prevent futher encroachments on individual liberties.   On this website you can occasionally read about limited attempts in Europe to turn the tide of 'illiberalism'. Think of President Klaus of the Czech Republic, think tanks like Mr Kern's, small new political groupings, this website and others....

I think that it is very difficult for contemporary Americans to understand what it means to have to live in a society in which mere speech or opinion can be criminalised by the State, because they have not experienced that in their life-time.   And, as tourists they tend to be oblivious to that kind of thing.  Some of them may have experienced it to a limited extent as 'speech codes' in colleges and universities, but that was generally not taken 'seriously' and viewed as mere 'child's play'.  In any case, at a young age in college they tend to have other 'diversions' and interests....  

America? #5

@el sabio catalan

You conclude your posting, "Americans need to wake up and take their head out of the sand or they will end up in the same mess that Europe is in."  What do Europeans need to do?

Spoon-fed Eurabia

I, too, think that is a 'great' flag. Perhaps the swords should be replaced with a pusher and spoon, symbolizing the spoon-feeding of the Eurabia project to the hungry masses.

Phase I complete

Phase I of the experimental cohabitation of Moslems with Westerners has been completed. After decades of Moslem immigration, it is now crystal clear that Moslems and Westerners cannot cohabit without the Moslems asserting their "right" to transform Western cultural, legal, and institutional environments into Moslem environments, thus totally denaturing Western environments. Call it assimilation, if you like, or call it colonization, but Westerners have absolutely nothing to gain, and everything to lose from this process.

Now that the results of Phase I of the experiment are in, there is no need to proceed to Phase II, the integration of Western and Islamic nations. Instead, all our energies should be focused on reversing the damage that resulted from Phase I. This means: ending 100% of Moslem immigration; encouraging Moslem outmigration; criminalizing Moslem organizations and activities; and eliminating Moslems from the legally protected classes in the various kinds od civil rights legislation.

Intelligent people knew long ago, on the basis of history and common sense, that Islam was the devoted enemy of the West and that Moslems were inherently enemies of the West as well. In our supposedly scientific age, history and common do not suffice to determine policy in the face of opposing temptations and delusions, in the absence of empirical information. Now, however, the experiment has been run in a wide variety of Western environments. There is no excuse for a willful refusal to accept the results. The time to begin reversing Phase I is now.

Time for Civil War

Time (or perhaps past time) for you guys to have a civil war. Our time here in the U.S. is coming soon.

America? #4

@ Frank Lee

At the bottom of Kern's article, it says it was first published at Pajama's Media. This probably means he originally wrote the article for an American audience.

I think Kern is half American and half European, he lives in Spain and works for a conservative think tank there. Most of the things he writes are obviously for mostly American readers.

I cannot presume to speak for Kern, but I do not think he is motivated by Schadenfreude. Nor does he expect the Americans to bail out the Europeans, like Lee seems to think.

Like many of us, i think Kern is genuinely concerned about what is going on in Europe and is worried about its implications for the US. So i would say, don't shoot the messenger.

Americans need to wake up and take their head out of the sand or they will end up in the same mess that Europe is in. I think that is what Kern is trying to say in his article. it is completely clear, I think.

America? #3


I understand your point, yet you conclude, "Americans should learn from the bad European (and Canadian!!) example, and should dedicate themselves to ensur[ing] that it does not get repeated in the US."  Where in Mr. Kern's article or in your response do either of you suggest what Europeans should be doing to rectify the situation in Europe?  Is the situation in Europe so hopeless that one's focus naturally wanders to America?  And, by the way, I did not express Schadenfreude at the current predicament in Europe (though I would be fully entitled to considering the generally petty attitude Europeans take toward America's problems).  I expressed puzzlement.  I am still puzzled.

America # 2

@ Frank Lee

I think that you are being a bit unfair to Mr Kern. He is reporting on recent deleterious developments in Europe that are very real and truly alarming. He is NOT saying that Europeans expect Americans to do anything about it.

At the same time, with his last rethorical question he is indirectly expressing a fear about possible similar developments in the US in the future.  Is that so unrealistic?  I don't think so.  There is little (cultural) difference between much of the European left and much of the American left today.  In the US today, at the federal level the left controls both the Executive and the Legislature, while the Supreme Court is (for the moment) in some rough balance, with Justice kennedy holding the wip position.  

On the positive side, it is true that the First Amendment provides a major bullwark against similar attempts in the US to undermine free speech.  And I also think that the US public is probably still much more sensitive to this issue than the European public. 

On the negative side, however, there is no denying that various parts of the US left are making similar 'noises' of wanting to control media outlets.  And the presence of millions of illegals in the US, i.e. the whole immigration debacle, shows that 'rule of law' is no longer guaranteed in the US in major areas.  Only a few days ago, President Obama signed an Executive Order that essentially extends government benefits (health care insurance) to a few million children of illegals.  So much for rule of law and law enforcement by the Federal Government!

While the situation in Europe is dire today with respect to the actual situation of 'freedom of speech' (opinion), do not forget that most European Constitutions also publicly proclaim freedom of speech as a constitutional right.  The Second Amendment in the US, also, is only a piece of paper.  Whether it 'holds' or gets respected, in the end, is a matter of maintaining a certain civic culture.  If the culture further deteriorates, the actual practices in the political system will also deteriorate, and no legal words on paper will preserve liberty.

So, there is no rational justification for Americans to express Schadenfreude at the current predicament of Europeans.  On the contrary, Americans should learn from the bad European (and Canadian!!) example, and should dedicate themselves to ensure that it does not get repeated in the US.

Stupid laws for stupid people

"The crime of inciting homophobic hatred includes any words or behavior which is threatening and intended to stir up hatred. It carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.


Kuwaiti islamists  : homosexuals should be tortured in public

Mohammad, the prophet of Islam, directed his followers to “kill the one who sodomizes and the one who lets it be done to him” (‘Umdat al-Salik, p17.3)

Just when is England going to build more prisons to hold all the moslems guilty of breaking this law? When will this Kuwaiti islamists be extradited to stand trial?


If Europeans truly are in the process of losing the right to freely express their beliefs--a fairly monumental development, if true--Mr. Kern and other European observers should be surveying the practical means by which to rectify the situation.  Mr. Kern makes no mention of possible ways to handle the problem but instead concludes his piece by focusing his attention on the possibility of threats to free expression in the United States.  This is puzzling.  Why does every problem in Europe lead Europeans to gaze westward across the Atlantic?  You are big boys and girls.  You can do something about this on your own, can't you?  If President Obama does in fact reimpose the so-called Fairness Doctrine, the last thing the American electorate is going to do is take a close look at how messed up Europe is.  Rather, American voters will make a stink and take matters into their own hands, through the ballot box or by other means.  Is your democratic process so deeply corrupted that the electorate can no longer effect change at all?  If so, what exactly do you expect the Americans to do about that?