Okay, let me start by saying that a lot of people have a lot of things to say on this particular issue, many of whom I find to be missing some key points.
I’m going to break the subject down into two defining questions:
Should Charlie Hebdo be accused of misusing the freedom of expression?
What did he do?
Well, he has long been known for his irreverent and non-conformist tone and generally covers topics like culture, religions and politics. What he did in this case is he published satirical cartoons of prophet Muhammad.
Why even think this?
Well, misuse of the freedom of expression most directly suggests that that particular expression hurt the sentiments of whoever it was directed at; nothing more, nothing less. So, perhaps in the strictest sense, this can be seen as a “misuse” of the freedom of expression.
Who did it hurt?
Likely anybody who practices Islam including those in extremist organizations.
Has something like this been done before?
Yes, it has and not just with religions but also with strongly held beliefs about pseudo-scientific theories.
How do we conclude?
Well, we can all agree that not everyone is religious and there are many different communities, the members of which, have in common strongly held beliefs. Now, people who practice Islam very fiercely hold prophet Muhammad sacred and so they feel the need to guard the scriptural sanctity of the prophet by engaging in inhuman acts if by doing so, it can mean even in a least preventing people from reattempting to disrespect the prophet. But by the same logic, should Christians not be killing because so often we see pictures making fun of Jesus? Should evolutionary scientists not be killing because so many people, even among the scientific community, cannot get themselves to wholly believe in evolution? Should European football enthusiasts not be killing people who disagree that it is quite simply the best sport in the world? You see, there can be no “misuse” of the freedom of one’s expression and the fact that Islam now has about 2 billion followers cannot serve as a reason – So does evolution, so does the big bang theory, so does European football. Ideally, no one should be making hurtful comments on any subject. For Muslims who believe, above all else, that no one, believer or non-believer, should be allowed to disrespect the prophet, I admire the loyalty to the religion. But, it needs to be said that one needs to be strong in faith, whatever faith. The desire to thwart, by such ghastly acts as terrorism, anyone in contention with someone’s beliefs and faith suggests that that someone is insecure and is not unwavering in his/her faith.
So, what really is the issue here?
Is it Islam?
Islam is like any other religion and it does not quote anywhere in the scripture that people who disrespect any principle that Islam is built around should be killed.
Is it the people who practice Islam?
You cannot paint everyone in a society with a single brush. There are countless people practicing Islam who strongly condemn terrorism.
Is it the people who willingly offend religious communities?
I believe the conclusion to the first question sufficiently answers this question.
Is it the people that adopt an excessively harsh tone in their writing or other form of expression?
Maybe to some extent, but not so much that it should give the offendee the right to oppress or kill in retaliation.
Oh, just spill already!
Okay here’s what I think – I’ve spoken to a lot of people who offer social services to nations afflicted by terrorism to help better their living condition, to understand the reasoning behind the barbaric acts of extremest organizations and their unequivocal response has always been “these people are just plain crazy!”
Even the most considerate of them eventually turned out to be committed pacifists. A common highlight across all of these conversations is that these organizations kill children. What could children possibly have done to suggest they hold this particular belief or another? So, the problem here is quite obviously terrorism; terrorism being carried out by extremists. What has always puzzled me is how these terrorists, who have their dwellings in mountains and caves, have so much access and have achieved such penetration into the layers of a society. This leads me to believe that terrorism, at the end of the day is a political institution. What it has grown to become today may not have been directly influenced by political factors. But, one thing is very clear. If the world is to be free of terrorism, it cannot be achieved by attacking the doctrines of fanatics alone. This has to be coupled with the complete withdrawal of political and administrative forces that quite clearly lend support to terror organizations. But that is a whole other subject.
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