The homepage of al-Fateh is a colorful mess straight out of the nineties. Cartoon squirrels and a rainbow adorn the banner, which welcomes kids to the online home of a magazine for the “builders of the future.” In one corner, an animated child whose head is covered by a polka-dot scarf flashes a peace sign in front of the Dome of the Rock.
The site, named after a character called “the conqueror,” is far from harmless. Published by a Hamas-affiliated organization, its illustrations, games, and stories encourage terrorism and heap praise upon suicide bombers.
One issue of the children’s magazine included a photo of a bomber’s severed head lying on the ground, still covered by a headscarf. “Her head was severed from her pure body; however, her veil remained in order to adorn it, to paradise,” the caption read.
In the days since terror struck Paris, European officials have began to look more closely at websites like al-Fateh. French and Belgian lawmakers have already proposed laws to silence online hate speech, in an attempt to counter the widespread use of online-communication platforms by followers of the Islamic State for propaganda and incitement.
The laws follow a European tradition of restrictive laws on hate speech, but with a 21st-century surveillance-state twist. Existing laws, which have been in place for decades, are designed to protect at-risk groups from harm. They target racism, hatred, defamation, the incitement of violence, and Holocaust denial. But the new proposals go further, restricting the entire citizenry’s civil liberties in the name of national security. And they may do little to make France and Belgium safer.