More hearts of Western civilization have been targeted and hit. First, armed gunmen entered the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last week and killed 12 people, to impose their understanding of Sharia on the French. Then, the German newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost, which had the courage to reprint the cartoons, was firebombed on January 10.
Most newspapers in Germany had apparently decided not to risk upsetting Muslim extremists by reprinting anything that might have have distressed them. The Berliner Zeitung, the Hamburger Morgenpost and Der Tagesspiegel were amongst the few exceptions.
Firefighters work at the offices of the Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper in Hamburg, Germany, which was attacked by arsonists on January 11. (Image source: Tagesschau video screenshot)
Assaults such as these, in addition to a list of demands -- from banning Christmas decorations to putting people on trial, if not murdering them, for exercising their freedom of speech -- lead one to wonder what further demands might be rolling down the pike, how many, and at what point, if any, are they meant to stop?
These "prophets of death" come with a clear message intended for all of us: This will be the fate of those who refuse to submit to medieval Sharia dictates. If the general coverage in the mainstream media is any indication, they have already succeeded in landing our compliance. And it wasn't very difficult.
The news coverage on U.S. and European television networks began with a familiar discussion: commentators were not sure about the motives of the perpetrators. But today's politically correct newsrooms seem unequipped to report these events even if they happen to trip over them. The voices on television told us one thing was for sure: that Islam had nothing to do with it.
If one were hoping for moral clarity or courage in the print media in Europe, one was mistaken again. The Western press fiddled with the French phrase and the hashtag "Je suis Charlie," but often lacked the courage to show Charlie Hebdo's cartoons as a mark of solidarity with the French magazine.
For a cowardly press that often abridges what was really said and fails to stand up for the fundamental freedoms -- along with politicians and a society that refuse to demand anything in return -- we in Europe have no one to blame but ourselves.
For too long we have celebrated the erosion of our Western values, by calling it "multiculturalism." Our politicians, intellectuals and academics seem to prefer indulging in "social romanticism" than questioning the exploding parallel legal and social norms that are emerging in immigrant Muslim communities.
Our politicians courted the radical clergy and lent their ears to their perceived grievances. Our politicians legitimized these persons -- who often turn out to be extremists posing as moderates -- as the sole representatives of all Muslim immigrants. Most of all, we failed to extend our hand of solidarity to those brave Muslim men and women who dared to defy the radical elements within their own communities.
Freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry have been central to the rise of Western civilisation, bringing with them values -- such as freedom of (and from) religion, governance at the consent of the governed, and equal justice under law -- unparalleled in the human history. Instead of passing on this flame of enlightenment and freedom to the Muslim world, we have undermined it at home.
The Western school systems have brought forth a generation that, by taking these gifts for granted, has failed to learn how irregular in history they are, and the heavy price that was paid by generations gone by to secure them.
For years, established political parties and the mainstream media have done everything to undermine a genuine debate on the rising threat of militant Islamism in midst of European societies -- and even today continue to do so. Where our political mainstream has failed us, far-left, far-right and neo-Nazi groups have been quick to materialize.
We have been squandering away the freedom the allied forces secured on the continent at the end of the Second World War at a huge human cost.
If we fail to stand up for our values, nobody else will. If we wish to safeguard them, we should start by admitting what seems obvious: as Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, put it: "The international jihadist movement has declared war." Our decision in the West is whether we wish to defend this freedom, or whether we wish to submit to rising Islamist intimidation even more.
Vijeta Uniyal, born in India and based in Germany, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.