The first goal of Islamists is to silence all who counter their ideology. But while most radical Muslims in the West are content to intimidate anti-Islamists through smears or lawsuits, some do resort to violence, as in the 2004 slaying of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
Death threats and attacks against public opponents of Islamism have escalated in recent months. Exhibit A: the New Year's assault by an ax-wielding Somali on the home of Kurt Westergaard, known for drawing the most recognizable of the Danish Muhammad cartoons. Shot by police, the young jihadist faces charges of attempted murder and terrorism - because, in the words of the prosecutor, "trying to kill Kurt Westergaard had a bigger purpose than just killing him."
Other noteworthy examples:
Days after promoting a lecture by Muslim-turned-atheist Sabri Husibi in September, the Tulsa Worldreported that he had received dozens of calls from people cursing and threatening him, one of whom promised that "if he spoke at the meeting and said anything against Shari'a (Islamic law), he would be killed." Adding more fuel to the fire, CAIR - Oklahoma's Razi Hashmi proclaimed that while Husibi has a right to talk, it "doesn't give him the justification to make false assumptions" about the nature of the Koran and sympathy for al-Qaeda within the Muslim community.
Following a demonstration on January 8 in Detroit by Muslims denouncing the attempted Christmas Day terror attack, rally organizer Majed Moughni received a death threat over the phone, which he partially recorded. Stated the Arabic-accented caller: "I want to congratulate you for your place in hellfire, inshallah [God willing]. ... If you're in front of me, I will shoot you. I will put a bullet in your head. This is the consequence of a hypocrite."
On January 12, feminist playwright and actress Rayhana, who appears in a show that examines the oppression of Algerian women and features "unflattering views of Muslim men," was insulted by two Arabic-speaking males on a Paris street, doused with gasoline, and saved only by their failure to set her aflame using a cigarette. The Independent reports that she was approached in the same area two weeks earlier by men who said, "We know who you are, you miscreant whore. This is a warning."
Why such violence? As Ryan Mauro explains, it boils down to the underlying frailty of the Islamist creed: "The fact that this ideology relies upon force ... shows it lacks merit and will not survive the intellectual combat that comes with a free media, freedom of speech, freedom of religion," etc.
So rather than succumbing to intimidation, let us follow the lead of Rayhana, who not only managed to stumble back to the theater, but performed her sold-out play that very night.