The Mila case: France debates criticism of religion
Mila Orriols, a 16-year-old French schoolgirl who described Islam as "shit" in a video and has since received death threats, has sparked a heated discussion about criticism of religion in France. European media see no reason why Islam should enjoy a special status and write that in a free society all believers must put up with such remarks, regardless of their religion.
Free debate needed
Berlingske compares reactions to Mila with those to Greta Thunberg:
“While the Swede, Thunberg, is celebrated as a messenger who enjoys special authority thanks to her youth, Mila Orriols has met with an avalanche of hatred, threats and moral criticism from the same people who support youth protests over the climate. ... The case of Mila shows that the Islamic call for their religion to be respected has become deeply ingrained. ... Clearly it takes the defiance of a 16-year-old to rise up against the political correctness and fears that inhibit a free debate about Islam in France. ... Why should it be more wrong to portray Islam as 'shit' than, for example, capitalism or socialism?”
Defending Muslims means defending criticism too
The fierce reactions to criticism of Islam ultimately harm the Muslim community itself, Amar Bellal, editor-in-chief of the communist magazine Progressistes, points out in L'Humanité:
“All of these threatening and insulting acts that take place as soon as you cast aspersions on Islam clearly contribute to the rejection of Muslims in France. In the eyes of many French people they show just how different this religion is from others. If one wanted to seriously defend Muslims and to ensure that Islam is as fully accepted in France as other religions, the first thing to do would be to unmistakeably defend this young person, condemn the threats against her and call on 'believers' to accept that all religions can be criticised and condemned - including their own.”