Islamism's Price for Free Speech: Your Tongue
The Islamist flag shown above flying over a courthouse in Benghazi, Libya was photographed by Sherif Elhelwa, who writes in "Al Qaeda Plants its Flag in Libya" (VICE, October 29, 2011) of the moment that he first saw this flag flying in post-Ghaddafi Libya:
Earlier this week, I went to the Benghazi courthouse and confirmed the rumors: an al Qaeda flag was clearly visible; its Arabic script declaring that "there is no God but Allah" and a full moon underneath. When I tried to take pictures, a Salafi-looking guard, wearing a green camouflage outfit, rushed towards me and demanded to know what I was doing. My response was straightforward: I was taking a picture of the flag. He gave me an intimidating look and hissed, "Whomever speaks ill of this flag, we will cut off his tongue. I recommend that you don't publish these. You will bring trouble to yourself."In the interests of accuracy, I should note that the black flag in the photo is not specific to Al Qaeda, for black flags are used as a symbol by several Islamist groups. The presence of the moon on the flag above reminds me of the flag used by the Islamic State of Iraq, but the lettering looks more elaborate in the image above.
This doesn't necessarily mean that the Islamists are taking over to replace Ghaddafi's tyranny with their own, but they are certainly going to attempt that. At least we now know the price of free speech in an Islamist state: your own tongue.