In France it is the government, not Muslim extremists, who prevent free speech and in the UK it is, of course, exactly the same story.
Our old enemy the ideas of the French Revolution are behind the disgraceful Charlie Hebdo cartoons, but this does not mean murder is any less dreadful. This is an explanation of why the leaders of Europe are not interested in free speech - only free expression of liberal ideas.
You can offend religion, or the religious. That is fine. But you cannot offend the secularists Gods of Equality and Diversity for instance.
Had Charlie Hebdo been anti Islam there deaths wouldn't have been mourned in the same way, but they published these things for republican (in the French anti-clerical sense of the word), liberal reasons. That's why the leaders turned out, not abstract belief in free speech. Imagine had the Le Pens been killed.
French satirists had demanded that Pegida (the German anti-Islam movement) should not commemorate their killed colleagues using their demonstrations. To ridicule Pegida, the satirists used a 80s-type bald, tattooed skinhead. The problem with that is that the caricature is pretty much off target: Pegida is a crowd of regular folks worrying about job security and the confrontation with novelty.
German officials forbade Pegida to use the Charlie Hebdo caricatures during their demonstrations. And one German minister demanded that the Pegida demonstrations should be forbidden. The irony is that during these demonstrations there was never any mockery or hate speech - organisers always demanded a respectful tone from their participants knowing they were being observed world wide. So much for the German government's commitment to free speech.
Meanwhile, a French police commissioner has reportedly killed himself after meeting relatives of a victim murdered in the Charlie Hebdo massacre. These very sad stories that reality writes. If it were in a novel you would throw the novel down and not pick it up again. Such grand guignol. I wonder why, when I was growing up, I thought the age I lived in was grey and dull. (But the 1960s and 1970s were grey and dull, even though a man landed on the moon and the Cold War divided the world into two.)
And the wife of the al-Qaeda man who mentored the Charlie Hebdo murderers is living on benefits in Leicester. She came to England with her children in search of a more "Islamic environment".
Andrew Gilligan has a ghastly story about how many dangers Britian faces from Muslim extremists here.
A Syrian Facebook friend of mine, the daughter of a mixed marriage (Christian-Muslim, these almost always end in divorce in the Arab world), posted these moving words.
I am Iman, a Syrian citizen. I hereby declare to all, that I am against any form of terrorism, of any kind, likewise; I'm against any kind of sarcasm against ANY RELIGION. Those who killed the journalists in Charlie Hebdo are the same extremists who've been sabotaging my country for almost four years now under a fake goal that is called FREEDOM, and they have nothing to do with Islam, nor with any religion on earth, so let the whole world make an effort to demolish the devil, let the whole world rise against the enemies of God and all mankind. Blessed be my country and all our martyrs! Bless all Humanity!