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ICC NOTE: Europeans must begin to stand up to Muslims who use fear and intimidation in the face of criticism. Someone should not have to be forced into hiding because they choose to speak out according to their beliefs.

Teacher forced into hiding after attacking Islam

For the full article go to Times Online

By Jenny Percival and agencies

A philosophy teacher today described how he was forced into hiding after a newspaper article in which he attacked Islam provoked death threats against himself and his family.

Robert Redeker, 52, from Toulouse in south-west France, is receiving round-the-clock police protection and changing addresses every two days, after publishing an article describing the Koran as a “book of extraordinary violence” and Islam as “a religion which … exalts violence and hate”.

He told French media today that he had no regrets about writing the article and that it was part of his job as a philosophy teacher to ask difficult questions.

In an interview with i-TV he said that he had received several e-mail threats targeting himself and his wife and three children and that his photograph and address were available on several Islamist internet sites.

“There is a very clear map of how to get to my home, with the words: ’This pig must have his head cut off’,” he said.

Another e-mail says: “You will never again be safe on this earth. One billion, 300 million Muslims are ready to kill you.”

And interviewed over the telephone from a safe house by Europe 1 radio, he complained that the education ministry had left him alone and abandoned. He said the ministry “has not even contacted me, has not deigned to get in touch to see if I need any help.”

He accepted that his detractors had “already won a victory of sorts.”

“I cannot do my job. I have no freedom of movement. I am in hiding. Already they have succeeded in punishing me … as if I was guilty of holding the wrong opinions.”

Dominique de Villepin, the French Prime Minister, said that the threats were “unacceptable”.

He said: “We are in a democracy, everyone has the right to express his views freely — of course while respecting others. That is the only restriction that is acceptable on this freedom.

“This shows to what extent we live in a dangerous world… and how vigilant we must be to ensure people fully respect one another in our society.”

The Paris state prosecutor’s office today launched a preliminary inquiry for “criminal conspiracy in relation with a terrorist enterprise”, asking the intelligence agency to look into the death threats.

Gilles de Robien, the Education Minister, yesterday expressed “solidarity” with M Redeker, but also warned that “a state employee must show prudence and moderation in all circumstances”.

M Redeker said that “if Robien is correct, then we would never have had any intellectual life in France . The function of politics is not tell us what we are allowed to think, but to defend our freedom to think and speak out.”

The issue is a sensitive one in France , which has Europe ’s biggest Muslim community, estimated at six million or around 10 per cent of the population.

Dalil Boubakeur, the French Muslim Council leader, denounced the threats and said: “Nobody can take the law into his own hands.”

Le Figaro, which published M Redeker’s article on September 19, today printed a front-page open letter from the editors expressing solidarity with him and “condemning with the greatest severity the grave attacks on freedom of thought and expression that this affair has provoked”.

M Redeker wrote the piece in reaction to the fury unleashed in Muslim countries by Pope Benedict XVI’s references to Islam in an address in Germany two weeks ago.

Under the heading “In the face of Islamist intimidation, what must the free world do?”, he denounced the “Islamisation of spirits” in France and claimed that “Islam is trying to make Europe yield to its vision of mankind”.

Likening Islam to communism, M Redeker said that “violence and intimidation are the methods used by an expansionist ideology … to impose its leaden cloak on the world”.