The muzzle grows tighter

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IN JULY 2012 a man calling himself Sam Bacile posted a short video on YouTube. It showed the Prophet Muhammad bedding various women, taking part in gory battles and declaring: “Every non-Muslim is an infidel. Their lands, their women, their children are our spoils.”

The film was, as Salman Rushdie, a British author, later put it, “crap”. “The Innocence of Muslims” could have remained forever obscure, had someone not dubbed it into Arabic and reposted it in September that year. An Egyptian chat-show host denounced it and before long, this short, crap film was sparking riots across the Muslim world—and beyond. A group linked to al-Qaeda murdered America’s ambassador in Libya. Protests erupted in Afghanistan, Australia, Britain, France and India. Pakistan’s railways minister offered a $ 100,000 bounty to whoever killed the film-maker—and was not sacked. By the end of the month at least 50 people had died.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton condemned both the video and the reaction to it. General Martin Dempsey, then chairman of America’s joint chiefs of staff, contacted Terry Jones, a pastor in Florida who had previously burned a Koran in…

The Economist: International