Insulting Muhammad: Free speech, and death in Islam

An authoritarian ruler must maintain his grip continuously. The first policy any tyrant imposes on his people shuts down free speech that expresses dissent and criticism. Insulting the head of state merits especially severe treatment. Muhammad laid down severe restrictions on such free speech, assassinating many who insulted him. In the Quran, he promises death and eternal damnation if anyone deviates in words and action from Allah and his messenger. In the hadith (Muhammad's words and deeds outside of the Quran), he kills dissenters and insulters. Later legal rulings, rooted in the Quran and hadith, follow his lead and decree that hard—hitting speech must be stifled. Indeed, the dissenters must die if they cross the line. In 1989, Iran's Supreme Leader issued a fatwa (legal decree) to assassinate Salman Rushdie, a novelist, who wrote Satanic Verses, which includes questions about the angel Gabriel's role in inspiring the Quran. Now the extremists in the highest levels in...(Read Full Article)