Terror Attack at French Mag Makes Freedom of Speech Video Timely

Lawfare Project video argues Islam isn’t open to a conversation.

When it comes to Islam, freedom of speech is an iffy topic for the media. 

Gunmen went on a shooting spree at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo (known for Islamic cartoons) on Jan. 7, in what President Francois Hollande deemed a “terrorist attack” (and, characteristically, the Obama White House didn’t). BBC reported the gunmen shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad,” while USA Today reported chants of “Allahu Akbar,” or "God is great." The attack came shortly after The Lawfare Project produced a video of the media’s treatment of Islam to argue, “[E]very religion is open to a conversation – every religion except Islam.”

Charlie Hebdo has attracted attention in the past for controversial caricatures of the prophet Muhammad and others – the latest being a cartoon of ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 

And the media have been only too happy to take sides – against the newspaper. Noted Islam Scholar Howard Dean refused to call the Paris shooters “Muslim terrorists” on MSNBC. TIME called the paper “Islamophobic” after a 2011 firebombing. 

But a recent video created by The Lawfare Project explained the media’s reasoning with freedom of speech in regards to religion. 

Published Dec. 2014, the video explained how “We see art that critiques Christianity, musicals that satirize Mormonism, scientology, Buddhism, Judaism. They’re all open to criticism, commentary, even ridicule.” 

Continuing, the video warned, “Virtually every religion is open to a conversation – every religion except Islam.”

Attorney Brooke Goldstein heads The Lawfare Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting lawfare, “a counterproductive perversion of the law.” Or, as the video more narrowly defined, the “threatening, suing, or censoring anyone bold enough to speak openly about the threat of militant Islam.”

— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.