CPJ deplores death threats against commentator on Islam

New York, October 3, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by death threats on Islamist Web sites against a controversial commentator for the French daily Le Figaro over an article critical of the Prophet Muhammad.

Robert Redeker, a high school philosophy teacher in the southwestern city of Toulouse, has gone into hiding under the protection of the French secret service since his opinion piece appeared on September 19.

“We deplore the death threats against Robert Redeker,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “He has the right to express his opinion and Le Figaro has the right to publish it. While the statements may have been provocative and deeply offensive to many Muslims, no one has the right to wage a death-threat campaign against the author.”

Redeker, 52, called the founder of Islam “a merciless warlord, a looter, a mass-murderer of Jews and a polygamist,” and said the Quran was “a book of incredible violence.”

The September 19 issue of Le Figaro was banned in Tunisia and Egypt.

Redeker has received anonymous threatening messages calling for his murder. One radical Islamist Web site posted his home address with directions to his house. A message said: “You will never feel secure on this earth. One billion, 300 million Muslims are ready to kill you,” French and international media reported. In a telephone interview with French radio station Europe 1, Redeker said his wife and children had also received death threats.

“I can’t work, I can’t come and go and am obliged to hide,” Redeker told the station on September 29. “So, in some way, the Islamists have succeeded in punishing me on the territory of the republic as if I were guilty of a crime of opinion.”

In addition to Le Figaro, Redeker has written for the Paris dailies Libération and Le Monde, and the Toulouse daily La Dépêche du Midi.