- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2007

Noble: The French court that upheld the ideals of free speech over political correctness.

The acquittal on Thursday of Philippe Val, editor of the French weekly Charlie-Hebdo, is rightly being hailed as a sweeping victory for free speech. Mr. Val was facing a six-month prison sentence and almost $30,000 in fines for printing three caricatures of the prophet Muhammad in the Feb. 8, 2006, issue of his newspaper.

The Union of Islamic Organizations of France and the Paris Grand Mosque — the prosecutors — accused Mr. Val of “publicly abusing a group of people because of their religion” because of the humorous depictions of Muhammad. Two of the cartoons were reprints from a Danish newspaper that came under fire as well. The third was an original and it showed Muhammad crying into his hands and saying: “It’s hard to be loved by idiots.” The caption says: “Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists.”

France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe — approximately 5 million. The outcry by many Muslims over these cartoons has forced an important discussion over freedom of expression. We happen to agree with French presidential hopeful and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who said he would prefer “an excess of caricatures to an absence of caricatures.” Luckily, the court agreed and ruled that Mr. Val “showed no intention of insulting the Muslim community with the caricatures.”

For not buckling under the pressure of radical Islam to stifle free expression, the French court is the Noble of the Week.

Knave: The Iraqi insurgents who used children as decoys in a car bombing, murdering them.

The success of a 5-week-old crackdown on security in Baghdad has resulted in a grave tactic by Iraqi car-bomber insurgents. When men approached a Baghdad security checkpoint in a bomb-laden vehicle, officers let them pass since the two children in the back seat “lowered suspicion,” according to Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They then parked the car near a market and a school. They jumped out of the car and ran away as the bomb detonated, killing the two children still inside and three bystanders. Seven others were injured. There is no information on the ages or genders of the children, nor of their relationship to the adult terrorists who cruelly ended their lives.

Following a major decrease in sectarian violence in the Iraqi capital since mid-February, this shows a new depth of hateful desperation on the part of the enemy, who now use the young as decoys. There are few better reminders of the urgent need to finish the job in Iraq, and keep resolve at home.

For cruelly manipulating and murdering children to carry out an act of terror, the car-bombing, child-killing insurgents are the Knaves of the Week.

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