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Almost every student of civilization has recently been encountered with the thrilling words, "I may not agree with what a man has to say, but I'll fight to the death his right to say it"! Although widely attributed to Voltaire, it cannot be found in his writings and was apparently crafted by a later author as an epitome of the ideal political attitude. The phrase captures the core concept of democracy, the once-proud heritage of European countries - now apparently being sacrificed on the altar of appeasement.

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Freedom of speech, democracy's basic tenet, is now voluntarily disavowed in Europe by both governments and intellectuals, rationalizing it at a distance as "hate" speech (added incentive possibly fear of Islamic terrorist retaliation). The Iranian fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his Satanic Verses in 1987 was an initial indication that European governments would back down and not defend their freedom of speech - and so has it been. Author Oriana Fallaci is encountering charges in an Italian court that her book "Among the Cicadas" vilifies Islam - similar charges against her are also raised in France and Switzerland. Today's Europe everywhere is obviously willing to sacrifice freedom of speech to mollify Islamic critics.

Fallaci, with a first-hand knowledge of political Islam, describes it as a force with powerful and broad appeal to Muslims who belligerently advocate the historic conviction of Islam's supremacy of over all other peoples and faiths. The European Union's reply to Islamic riots against cartoons deemed offensive was passage of a law against blasphemy - backing down from centuries of freedoms of press in addition to speech. In response to Muslim outcries against cartoons, both secular and Christian Danish authorities have responded, not with determination to uphold their traditions, but with apologies and calls for self-censorship. European newspapers have decided not to risk printing satirical cartoons about prophet Muhammad after the Muslim furor generated by publications in Denmark .