by David J. Rusin • Jan 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm
Examples from the United States:
- In September, the East Lansing Police Department offered a $10,000 reward for information about the person responsible for leaving a charred Koran outside a Michigan mosque. An individual surrendered, but the prosecutor shelved the case because “there is no criminal offense that I can charge under Michigan law.”
- In December, Jesse Quinn Harrison of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was charged with a hate crime for allegedly sending an “intimidating” letter to a mosque and uploading a video in which a Koran and pork chops are grilled, placed on a bun, and fed to a dog. Prosecutors claimed that the video intends to “produce violence directed to others because of their religious beliefs.” Harrison was held at a mental facility before charges were dropped.
Examples from Europe:
- In September, several self-described “English nationalists” were arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred for allegedly posting a video of them burning a Koran behind a pub in Gateshead, Tyneside. Due to insufficient evidence, no charges were brought.
- In October, French police arrested an individual from Bischheim, Bas-Rhin, over an online video that “shows a man tearing off a page of the Koran, making a paper plane, and throwing it onto two glasses representing the World Trade Center. The man then burns the page and urinates onto its ashes.” The citation against him for promoting racial hatred has been dismissed due to procedural errors, but a new hearing may be imminent.
- In November, UK police arrested a teenage girl on suspicion of inciting religious hatred for allegedly burning a Koran on the premises of her West Midlands school, videotaping the incident, and posting it online. Despite the Crown Prosecution Service claiming “sufficient evidence” to move the case forward, it decided not to pursue charges.
- In January, UK police arrested a man in Carlisle, Cumbria, who allegedly was “making pronouncements against the Muslim religion in front of a large crowd” and then “set fire to the Koran he was holding.” He was arrested for “using racially aggravated threatening words or behavior” and has been released on bail as the investigation continues.
Yes, those taken into custody for burning Korans often escape charges, but why are they being detained in the first place? Does not true Western freedom imply the ability to express unpopular and even offensive views — without the risk of an involuntary trip to the police station?