Another free speech issue, a tricky one.
France has barred a group of Muslim clerics, including one of the most prominent voices in Sunni Islam, from entering the country to attend a conference.
France’s foreign ministry said Thursday the clerics were invited by the French Islamic Union to speak at a congress in Le Bourget near Paris from April 6-9.
One of those barred, the Egyptian-born Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, says he refuses to come to France.
The ban also includes other high-profile Muslim clerics of Palestinian, Egyptian and Saudi origin.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that “these people call for hatred and violence and seriously violate the principles of the Republic, and in the current context, seriously risk disrupting public order.”
That’s the state banning a particular kind of speech, all right. Free speech liberals think the bar should be very very high for that. Is the bar high enough here?
I don’t know. I suppose I think it’s not high enough as a matter of principle, but as a matter of reality, it may be. I don’t know how to think about it any more coherently than that. As a matter of principle, it seems as if people should be able to hold congresses and invite clerics to speak at them. As a matter of reality, misogynist anti-Semitic xenophobic homophobic clerics can be very dangerous. This insoluble conflict tends to make me despair.