Written By: Gul Zehra Zaidi.
I am not Charlie. What I am is a Muslim, who condemns the killings of twelve people including the editor Stéphane Charbonnier, 8 other Charlie Hebdo employees, a building maintenance worker and 2 National Police officers. I refuse to believe that any person who knows Islam or has read the Holy Quran can carry out such a heinous act of murder in the name of religion.
What I am, is also, one of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the globe, who are deeply hurt and enraged by the caricatures of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) that the famous magazine, Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) has come to publish over the years. This was neither the first time the magazine published the satirical cartoons of the Prophet nor was it the first time, it was attacked over doing so. And apparently the magazine has the perfect response for the attackers all prepared in the form of their new, even more offensive and mocking cover featuring the Prophet (PBUH).
The magazine has over the years taken to constant publication of material that is insulting to religions and its followers. The satire of Jesus Christ published on 13th March 2013 or mocking of Catholic believes on 21st November 2010, were just as hurtful to all the Christians of the world. The French President Jacques Chirac condemned "overt provocations" while the Foreign Ministry of France has repeatedly warned the magazine over its provocative substance and aggressive approach towards religions and religious personalities.
By saying that, I’m aware I might sound like I’m trying to justify the attacks. I’m not. There is no justification of using the religion to carry out murder and claim it to be an act to defend Islam and its Prophet. There’s only one word for such an act, its terrorism.
But in our rush to condemn the incident and rightfully, declare the attackers as smear on Islam, we should not forget to also condemn the act of deliberately insulting religious personalities and mocking the sentiment of billions under the well-worn banner of “Freedom of Speech”.
The world Leaders including Angela Merkel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and David Cameron along with hundreds of thousand people gathered in the French capitol to join the Unity Rally, to stand in mourning and defiance. The march was a declaration of solidarity with those who lost their lives and those who survived.
While it was an inspiring demonstration that they will not yield to the terrorist, it also demands from the rest of the world to accept the publications of Charlie Hebdo as Freedom of Expression. Any opinion otherwise will brand you as terrorist sympathizer or an apologist. It demolishes the idea that a Muslim while being offended and upset over the drawings can still condemn the terrorism that was wrought against it.
Although, Freedom of Expression is everyone’s right, indisputably, it isn’t without consequence. While murder should never be the consequence, the publications should also not be allowed to spread bigotry and continue to mock the faiths and religions of billions of people under the guise of Freedom of expression.
Authors Note: My motivation to write this post came from the fact that when the world stood up against terrorism and chanted "Je Suis Charlie", a few of us, Pakistanis chanted with them, without realizing that the magazine, while being well-within its rights to freedom of speech and journalism, is very much wrong in its continuous process of deliberate mocking of religions.
Every Muslim who follows the word of Prophet (PBUH) and The Holy Quran, could never support murder or terrorism. But the same Muslim has every right to be offended by the magazine's numerous attempts of insulting our Religious Personalities.
Murderer and terrorism should be eradicated from the world but so should the ever-going process of intentional hate speech and disguising it as freedom of speech.