"German Police, Worried About a Violent Backlash,

told the professor to move his religious-studies center to more-secure premises." So reports the Wall Street Journal:

Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a Muslim convert and Germany's first professor of Islamic theology, fasts during the Muslim holy month, doesn't like to shake hands with Muslim women and has spent years studying Islamic scripture. Islam, he says, guides his life.

So it came as something of a surprise when Prof. Kalisch announced the fruit of his theological research. His conclusion: The Prophet Muhammad probably never existed.

Muslims, not surprisingly, are outraged. Even Danish cartoonists who triggered global protests a couple of years ago didn't portray the Prophet as fictional. German police, worried about a violent backlash, told the professor to move his religious-studies center to more-secure premises....

Prof. Kalisch's religious studies center recently removed a sign and erased its address from its Web site. The professor, a burly 42-year-old, says he has received no specific threats but has been denounced as apostate, a capital offense in some readings of Islam....

I naturally have no idea whether Muhammad existed or not; I leave such matters to historians (which could certainly include theologians, if they're doing good history). The conventional wisdom appears to be that he did indeed exist. "[O]nly a few scholars have doubted Muhammad's existence. Most say his life is better documented than that of Jesus.... The Prophet differed from the flawless figure of Islamic tradition, Prof. [Tilman] Nagel says, but 'it is quite astonishing to say that thousands and thousands of pages about him were all forged' and there was no such person."

But the only way one can trust the judgment of professionals on this is if they're free to challenge conventional wisdom, and to respond to such challenges. Even if Prof. Kalisch is wrong, and badly so, we can't know that he's wrong unless he is free to provide his evidence and his conclusions and others are able to rebut them (or support them).

Thanks to Religion Clause for the pointer.