The State of Free Speech in Europe in 2015

Most readers are aware that Anne Marie Waters had planned to host a Mohammed cartoon exhibit in London today, but was forced to cancel the event due to the credible threat of violence against it. In response, she wrote the following essay on the significance of what did not happen today.

The State of Free Speech in Europe in 2015
by Anne Marie Waters

This is not how I expected to spend September 18th. I was supposed to be hosting an exhibition of harmless cartoons, along with others in this country and elsewhere who know the true value of freedom. Instead, I will write about it — while I still have the freedom to do at least that.

The Mohammed cartoon exhibition did not take place in London, not only because of the threat to those involved, and their families, but also because the Left went for our jugular and ensured that others would not support us. The despicable Hate Not Hope (I refuse to write that group’s name as they do), put together a complete fiction, aiming to intimidate others and discourage them from joining us. The far-Left extremists, accompanied by a Christian extremist, pretended that Tommy Robinson and I were using the cartoons to incite civil war. This was based on about ten minutes of speculation, to my memory, mostly initiated by said Christian extremist, stuck within about four hours of conversation — mostly about the Sharia Watch website. This is how low the Left is willing to stoop. Another left-wing blogger wrote that I might sue Vive Charlie; something else based on no truth whatsoever.

The cowardly National Secular Society, which is increasingly socialist rather than secularist, decided to do the bidding of Hate Not Hope and their comrades, and reject the only people trying to take a stand on the vital issue of Mohammed cartoons.

Their achievement? They punished real free speech campaigners, sent a message to those who might be minded to speak out: don’t, and more importantly sent a message to the jihadis that Britain already belongs to them, and they only have to pressure us and we will crumble and submit. Congratulations yet again owed to the bullying, destructive, and downright corrupt British political Left.

One of two things is going on here. Such people are either incredibly stupid and have no idea of the evil acts they are carrying out, while others know perfectly well what they’re doing displaying their own moral deficiency. For the stupid, here are a few points for you to digest:

The array of punishments for blasphemy and apostasy (leaving Islam) in Pakistan include the death penalty. This retribution is applied by the state and constitutes the law of the land; it is not the ranting of an extreme religious fringe that can be safely ignored by the populace.

Asia Bibi, for example, a young Christian mother is awaiting execution in that country, having been found guilty of insulting Mohammed. Her death sentence was upheld by the country’s courts.

The array of punishments for blasphemy and apostasy in Saudi Arabia includes the death penalty. This retribution is applied by the state and constitutes the law of the land; it is not the ranting of an extreme religious fringe that can be safely ignored by the populace.

Raif Badawi, for example, is a writer who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes (which will almost certainly kill him) as well as 10 years in prison for insulting Islam.

The array of punishments for blasphemy and apostasy in Iran include the death penalty. This retribution is applied by the state and constitutes the law of the land; it is not the ranting of an extreme religious fringe that can be safely ignored by the populace.

A young cartoonist, for example, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for mocking the Islamic government. The artist Atena Farghadani is currently serving a long stretch behind bars as punishment for depicting government officials as animals. She was later charged with ‘indecency’ for shaking the hand of her male lawyer.

These are facts. This is the truth, and it remains the truth regardless of how much you want to deny it. Another fact you will want to deny is that these brutal and oppressive punishments are justified and maintained by one thing and one thing only — Islam. This is an indisputable, verifiable, objective fact.

Yet another fact is that we have experienced, and are experiencing, massive and unprecedented migration from Islamic countries in to Western democracies in recent decades. This migration has had, and will continue to have, a chilling effect on two fundamental freedoms without which democracy and freedom cannot exist — the rights and freedoms of women, and the ability to speak our minds.

Here in Britain, those of us who speak out against Islam and its increasing influence in our country soon find ourselves marginalised as “racists”, “hate-mongers”, and “Islamophobes” — despite the fact that what we say is true. Being labelled a “racist” in Britain can, and does, mean job losses, public blacklisting, and can even bring criminal charges. There are numerous examples of this to be found:

  • Keith Hurdle was jailed for 12 weeks for a verbal racist diatribe on a London Underground train. While of course this behaviour is unacceptable, it provides further evidence that a person can be imprisoned for words only, while on the other hand, in the case of a non-white suspect, violent crimes can, and do, go un-investigated. The message to the public is clear: racism is not in fact a two-way street, and “colour-blind” policing is not being practised.
  • Following a few revolting Tweets about the footballer Fabrice Muamba — who had collapsed from a heart attack on the pitch — the Welsh student Liam Stacey was jailed for 56 days. Again, his behaviour was uncivilised and wrong, but the fact remains he was sent to prison for using words only, and the message to the public was repeated.
  • Jacqueline Woodhouse from Essex was jailed for 21 weeks for another racist rant on a train.
  • Six football fans were jailed for 18 months in late 2013 for apparently chanting songs which glorified the murder of Stephen Lawrence. The prosecutor in the case said that the chanting was “disturbing and upsetting”.
  • 34-year-old Emma West was jailed for shouting on a tram in south London. She was subjected to death threats.
  • Martin Smith was locked in a cell after he downloaded the theme tune of the 1980s comedy ‘Rita, Sue, and Bob Too’ to his phone. The ringtone features an Asian character saying “I can’t help being a Paki” and when a woman heard this in a shop, she made a complaint to the police. Smith was charged with “using racially aggravated threatening or insulting words or behaviour” and eventually fined.
  • Ronnie Hutton was jailed for two days in Scotland for revving his car ‘in a racist manner’.
  • Simon Ledger was arrested for singing ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ on the off-chance that Chinese people may be offended.

Across Europe, the picture is similar. If anyone dares to step out of line, there will be repercussions, and very little sympathy. When several cartoonists were butchered in Paris, vast numbers of European journalists effectively blamed the dead for their own murder. Our television stations refused to show the cartoons, or show any commitment to free expression, because they too feared being labelled “racists” or “Islamophobes”.

Because I tried to show some cartoons, I was labelled a “radical” by the BBC — comparable to a known jihadist and supporter of stoning, Haitham al Haddad. I was invited to speak on the matter on a BBC Sunday morning discussion programme, and found myself to be the sole voice in support of free expression. We need to allow this to sink in for a moment: in the eyes of Britain’s national broadcaster, openly rejecting Islamic law makes a person a radical, an outsider, a crank, an oddity.

In the Netherlands, elected MPs live under armed security, while others have fled the country. A film-maker was murdered in the streets. All have one thing in common: they were critical of Islam.

In Denmark, a group who had gathered in defence of free speech, were shot at by Muslims incensed that such an event should be permitted to take place.

This is the state of free speech in Europe in 2015.

The stupid don’t appear to see this as a problem. They must wonder: why do I, and many others, continue to speak out against Islamic blasphemy laws, despite the cost? Because free speech is the backbone of freedom, and all other freedoms depend upon it. If we are not free to speak our minds, we are not free at all. Democratic debate cannot take place without free speech, political candidates are not free to put their ideas to the people, and the people are not free to hear them. When this happens, we are stuck, we remain stagnant and no true change can occur. We become subject to the irremovable and unchangeable power of an unchallenged elite (this is why it is so popular on the Left). In other words, we become slaves.

The advancement of science and human rights occurred because of free inquiry and discussion. If we are not permitted to criticise or ridicule or question religion (in this case Islam), then we become subject to religious tyranny, and subject to the whims of clerics and their specific religious interpretation. At a time when Islamist brutality is stretching out around the world, at a time when we desperately need to appraise, question, and criticise it, we are increasingly being told that we can’t. Brutal leadership that cannot be challenged — this is totalitarianism.

Free speech is the reason that the West is the greatest and most advanced civilisation the world has ever known. The price of the loss of free speech is immeasurable, we must continue to defend it. The most important, and most attacked, aspect of free speech, however, is this — the freedom to tell the truth. George Orwell wrote that freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four, and it is exactly that freedom that we are rapidly losing in Europe, and eventually the entire West.

A friend told me recently that during a conversation with a gay man, she informed him that he would be murdered for his sexuality if he were living in, say, Iran. His response? He called her a racist. This is not unusual, I too have experienced this. Simply pointing out the truth will almost inevitably instigate attack. This is the case not only when discussing politics in the local pub, but it is also the line taken by the mainstream media. If one points out that the masses of men now pouring through Europe’s “borders” are coming from countries where women are property, homosexuals are murdered, and dissent brings harsh punishment, you will simply not be heard. If you dare to point out that these men are likely to bring the ideas which are the norm in their countries along with them to Europe, you will be called a fascist and nothing else you say will be listened to — no matter how true.

The reality is that a global battle for free speech is now underway, and Western leaders and media are on the side of its enemy. Instead of acknowledging the potential damage to free expression that mass Muslim immigration may bring, our leaders have decided to increase the migration. Western leaders have therefore become the enemies of the West, leaving myself and others to fight for us instead.

The opponents of free speech, both the stupid and the evil, are dangerous and powerful, but we can still beat them with the truth.

Anne Marie Waters is the founder of Sharia Watch UK and a former UKIP candidate for Parliament.

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