Free Speech Vs. Lawsuit Terrorism
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
Monday, April 14th, 2008 @ 5:42AM
Islamofascism: Suicide bombs aren’t the only chilling weapon Islamists are using in their war to the death with Western civilization. Exploiting the free world’s laws on libel and so-called hate speech, they intimidate truth-telling writers. When American Center for Democracy director Rachel Ehrenfeld in 2003 authored “Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed ﾗ and How to Stop It,” she was intellectually taking part in the global war on terror. But she also ended up becoming enmeshed in an international legal war. Saudi banker and suspected al-Qaida financial supporter Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz and his sons were named in the book and Mahfouz sued Ehrenfeld for libel in Britain although only 23 copies of the American-published “Funding Evil” were purchased there, online.
British libel law is notoriously geared to the advantage of the plaintiff. So Ehrenfeld chose not to defend her case, and in 2005 High Court Justice Sir David Eady pronounced a default judgment ordering Ehrenfeld to apologize and pay $225,000. Ehrenfeld countersued in the U.S., but the courts ruled they had no personal jurisdiction over Mahfouz under New York state law. As a result, Ehrenfeld is now discouraged from traveling abroad to promote her important, potentially life-saving work.
And publishers, too, will be discouraged from printing her future books by the fear of being sued for large sums of money. This is but one case in an intensifying global jihad against those who dare to exercise free speech to expose the tactics of terrorists, or criticize Islamic extremism. Even the oldest publishing house in the world, Cambridge University Press, which printed its first book over 420 years ago, last year sullied its prestigious reputation by melting before a separate Mahfouz libel suit. It ordered the destruction of all copies of “Alms For Jihad” by retired U.S. diplomat J. Millard Burr and University of California historian Robert O. Collins, asked libraries worldwide to take it off their shelves and reportedly paid off Mahfouz in a settlement. Mahfouz’s big-money legal bullying has led to successful actions against several other similar scholarly books (which tend not to become money-generating blockbuster best-sellers). Equally disturbing is the assistance the jihadists have been getting from politically-correct governmental institutions.
In December, for instance, the popular Canadian-born columnist and author Mark Steyn was subjected to complaints by the Canadian Islamic Congress before Canada’s federal human rights commission, as well as the Ontario and British Columbia human rights commissions because his cover story in popular Canadian magazine Maclean’s was considered “anti-Islam and anti-Muslim.” While the Ontario panel recused itself on jurisdictional grounds, it blasted Steyn’s writing as “xenophobic” and “Islamophobic.” The two other commissions have yet to decide on their course of action. Such state agencies can fine or imprison their targets. But speaking before the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the New Criterion magazine’s “Free Speech in an Age of Jihad” conference in New York last week, Steyn elicited a standing ovation when he vowed to confront such tribunals anywhere and everywhere in the world.
He warned his audience that while Muslim immigrants may not have assimilated to Western culture, when it comes to exploiting the culture of victimology now embraced within the legal systems of the U.S. and other free nations, “they are superbly assimilated.” Britain, France, Germany and many other Western countries also have hate speech laws, and Steyn considers it absurd to think America can sustain itself as a beacon of hope as other nations regulate the criticism of Islam. Allowing our own ill-conceived laws to prevent exposing how terrorists can destroy innocent lives is self-destructive. As Steyn reminded his listeners, recalling historian Arnold Toynbee, civilizations have always died by suicide, not murder.