This Wednesday in a brazen broad daylight attack two masked gunmen brandishing Klashnikov assault rifles forced their way into the Paris offices of the satirical publication, Charlie Hebdo and proceeded to execute 10 of its staff who at the time were convened in meeting. During the course of the attack they also killed two policeman – one of whom was executed as he lay already injured on the floor. The operation was evidently pre-planned and the ruthless efficiency with which it was carried out suggests the perpetrators had received some level of military training (these were clearly more than your average ‘Call of Duty’ aficionados).
Charlie Hebdo was no stranger to controversy, rather it deliberately courted it at every available turn. As an iconoclastic publication, religion was very much within its purview. Christianity more often than not the target of its particular brand of degenerate, vulgar satire but what brought this act of bloody vengeance upon it was its repeated insults – and make no mistake that is what they were – towards Islam. The publication of assorted invidious images of the Prophet (saw) wedded to profanities about the Qur’an are what sealed the fate of Stephane Charbonnier and his staff.
I don’t have too much to say about this incident but I will say that I find it more than a little hypocritical that the same people and publications that so vehemently champion “free speech” when it offends Muslim sensibilities are often the very same demanding more be done to close down “hate speech” (i.e. what they deem offensive) when it upsets theirs. So for example, when a Muslim decides to burn a poppy on the streets of London – an act which physically harms nobody – they will demand the individual responsible be prosecuted (he was). Similarly when a group of Muslims held a peaceful – if vocal – protest against British military returnees from Afghanistan it seems that suddenly the “right to offend” was no longer sacrosanct. Complete silence regarding the disgraceful behaviour of the baying mob intent on physically assaulting aforesaid peaceful protestors who, after all, were merely exercising their “sacrosanct right to offend”.
Let us see how many people are now prosecuted for “soliciting murder” apropos of the #KillallMuslims hashtag currently trending on Twitter. Previously when one Muslim aired his hope to see foreign troops – viewed by vast numbers of the local population as occupiers – in Iraq killed he was prosecuted for precisely that. Let us see if a desire to murder innocent civilians is treated in the same light. I won’t be holding my breath.
As regards the special “national day of mourning” held in France to commemorate the 12 dead Charlie Hebdo employees I find myself asking why there has never been a similar outpouring of national grief to acknowledge the barbaric murder by the police of 40 (official estimates) – 200 (more likely death toll) French-Algerians in the same city back in 1961. It took some 37 years before the French government even acknowledged a massacre had taken place. Of course it will never be described as an act of terror – after all Europeans simply don’t do that, do they? You can read the salient details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_massacre_of_1961
The hypocrisy surrounding this latest incident is sadly nothing new. After the 2006 Jyllands-Posten cartoon controversy it subsequently emerged that the same paper had previously rejected a submission of satirical cartoons depicting Jesus (as). The editor’s reasoning? “I don’t think the readers of Jyllands-Posten would be pleased with the drawings. I think they would cause an outrage. That’s why I won’t use them.” So to those who drone on about Muslims being accorded special treatment: I completely agree with you. We are.
As a Muslim I don’t believe in vacuous notions of “free speech”. Speech is, and always has been, restricted by law. The question is merely of where to draw the line. I will never recognise the moral “right” of anyone to insult, mock or belittle any of the Prophets of Allah (swt). I acknowledge, as a matter of fact, that such a right exists under the legal codes of Western nations such as France and Britain regardless my disapprobation. While I personally restrict myself to cursing reprobates such as Charbonnier and his staff, clearly others feel less inclined to such restraint but I shall refrain herein from passing comment on their actions.
I shan’t be mourning any of the dead “journalists” and their crass attempts at satire won’t be missed by me. In this I’m sure I’m far from alone. One of the deceased, Georges Wolinski, once reportedly said, “paradise is full of idiots who believe it exists”. Well Georges, hell is full idiots who believe it didn’t – as you are about to discover. Did you find that offensive? I certainly hope so. Georges would undoubtedly have approved and perhaps it’s the most fitting epitaph for someone who revelled in his merciless mockery of others. Au revoir, Charlie Hebdo!
May the peace and blessings of Allah (swt) be upon sayyidina Muhammad.