Debate Over Free Speech and Islamic Extremism

January 11, 2004

Source: The New York Times

On January 11, 2004 The New York Times published an article debating whether or not radical Islam, particularly in prisons, should be protected under free speech laws, arguing that the United States allows religious hate speech to "flourish" as a result of First Amendment laws. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the Muslim cleric who coordinated New York's Islamic prison program for two decades recruited prisoners to a radical form of Islam and expressed admiration for the Sept. 11 hijackers. "Driving radical doctrine from prisons is an urgent matter, says Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and where to draw the line is a relatively straightforward question. 'You err on the side of liberty, but you still have to protect yourself,' he said in an interview. 'Free speech is not absolute. Free speech is different in different contexts. Incitement has a lower threshold in prison than on, say, a dairy farm.'"