Slowly, ever so slowly, the old blasphemy laws are returning to Europe. The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that Europeans do not have the right to criticize the Islamic prophet Mohammed for his sexual habits. Now, mosques are lobbying Twitter to ban leading Dutch politican Geert Wilders from the social network.
A body representing 144 Turkish mosques in the Netherlands has asked Twitter to block the account of anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders for inciting hatred.
The Turkish Islamic Cultural Federation (TICF) sent the letter on Friday seeking "a permanent ban of the Twitter of Mr. Geert Wilders... due to continuous publications on his Twitter account of messages, images and other content which is a display of hateful conduct."
It said Wilders' tweets breached Twitter's guidelines, adding: "His hate messages are being spread worldwide thanks to the platform and abilities Twitter provides him".
In a tweet in September last year, Wilders had called Prophet Mohammed a "paedophile, mass murderer, terrorist and madman."
"We reserve the right to take any legal actions and measures necessary if you will not take action as requested within 21 days after this," it said.
TICF's lawyer Ejder Kose told AFP on Monday they would take legal action if nothing was done.
"Going to court is the last thing we want to do but if we have to, we'll do it," Kose said.
[Mosques seek Twitter ban on Dutch populist Geert Wilders, Eyewitness News, November 6, 2018]
Despite the appeals to the courts, as of yet this is not strictly a legal demand. If Twitter bans Wilders, many conservatives will throw up their hands and proclaim this is the "free market" at work. Yet in modern democracies with almost universal suffrage, control of social media platforms and media networks is even more important than controlling the state. If certain views are banned from expression, even if they have widespread support, whatever rights of "free speech" or "democracy" exist on paper are rather meaningless. Besides, Europeans don't even have a right to free speech anymore, as shown by the recent Human Rights court ruling as well as government actions in the U.K., France, and Germany. Wilders too has also been prosecuted by his own government.
America is not much different. Though Americans have a theoretical right to free speech, civil rights laws and murky legal doctrines about what constitutes a "hostile environment" means that some people have more free speech than others. What happens in Western Europe is what will happen in America soon, as leftist lawyers are already paving the way for a "hate speech" doctrine that will essentially abolish the First Amendment.
In both cases, the line betwen "private" and "public" entities is rather thin. If pressure on private entities like Twitter isn't enough, groups can usually find a government body in some country to make some murky ruling demanding action. Even an American company like Twitter will usually decide it's not worth standing on principle and cave. That seems to be the strategy by the mosques here, as they are going to be filing legal actions in Muslim nations.
The Turkish-Islamic Cultural Federation (TICF), which represents 144 Turkish mosques in The Netherlands and is connected to the Diyanet, the Turkish directorate for religious affairs, has claimed that Wilders’ criticisms of Islam are in breach of the company’s terms of services, reports Algemeen Dagblad.
TICF’s lawyer Ejder Köse told the Dutch daily that the group also intends to file complaints against Twitter in Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, and Indonesia — four Islamic countries where blasphemy is a punishable offence.
[Dutch mosques demand Geert Wilders be banned from Twitter, by Victoria Friedman, Breitbart, November 6, 2018]
Of course, there's one obvious point overlooked in much of the media coverage. Where are there any Turkish mosques in the Netherlands, let alone hundreds? Why must the Dutch tolerate these hostile invaders? And when did Europeans vote to become subject to the blasphemy laws of Third World nations like Pakistan or Morocco?