Recently, French Islamists (presumably) firebombed the office of French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo for its speech. Simultaneously, Charlie Hebdo's website was also taken down in a cyber-attack by a Turkish hacker. The firebombing and hacking occurred just one day after the magazine, which has a history of equal opportunity offensiveness, cheekily announced that the Islamic Prophet Mohammed was going to be a guest editor for this week's edition, "(i)n order fittingly to celebrate the Islamist Ennahda's win in Tunisia and the NTC (National Transitional Council) president's promise that Sharia would be the main source of law in Libya."

The weekly's publisher, Stephane Charbonnier, stated that for this special edition the magazine would be rebaptized "Sharia Hebdo" as a pun on Islamic Sharia law, and would feature on its cover a picture of Mohammed saying: "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter!" Not surprisingly, Charlie Hebdo's announcement immediately prompted threats from Islamists in France who oppose any depiction of Mohammed, however benign, as blasphemy. And just a day later, the firebombing followed.

There is really nothing new to see here. Since the Salman Rushdie affair, Islamists have steadily ramped up their pressure against free speech in the West. Any type of speech that offends their delicate Islamist sensibilities is quickly denounced, and the person (or persons) issuing it is then threatened with defamation lawsuits, violence, or even death. Increasingly often, the Islamists follow through on their threats. And just as often, those in the West cave — usually before any violence occurs — and censor themselves or apologize for their own speech.

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