Excerpt : The execution of the Charlie Hebdo journalists was inexcusable, and I condemn it. But Charlie satirists were not innocent too, and provoked an unnecessary fight.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The execution of the Charlie Hebdo journalists was inexcusable, and I condemn it. But Charlie satirists were not innocent too, and provoked an unnecessary fight. Their mission, like many others in the Western media, is not about freedom of speech or expression. Simply put, it is boundless Islamophobia and hatred that stirs extremism. Their fervent, banal attacks on religion, Islam in particular, over the years has not made the world any safer, freer, tolerant or understanding.

When world leaders gathered to march in Paris in solidarity, their hypocrisy dampened its meaning. None dared to condemn the impudent, abusive narratives on Islam and its revered prophet billions hold dearer than their own lives. Nor did they march when terrorists massacred hundreds across the world. Some called it an attack against their civilization, their way of life, and ignoring Charlie’s appalling ridicule of others values.

US President Obama was not among the 44 leaders in Paris but was not spared condemnation for missing it though no one doubts US’s commitment to war on terror. Some media in Europe blamed his absence on his ‘sympathy’ to Muslims! UK’s PM David Cameron retorted unwittingly that Muslims have a ‘special burden’ to tackle extremists. The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, accused of massacre of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza by the Turkish Prime Minister, controversially urged his Jewish people to move to Israel if they feel threatened in France.

The media Moghul News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch twitted that ‘even peaceful Muslims should be held responsible for the jihadist cancer’. Later he retracted his comments, saying he ‘certainly did not mean all Muslims be responsible for Paris attack; tens of thousands of jihadist victims are Muslims’. US terrorism expert Steven Emerson claimed on Fox News that UK’s Birmingham City is a ‘no-go zone’ for non-Muslims, and that parts of London have ‘Muslim religious police on the beat’ to check your dress code!  

Pope Francis accused Charlie of provocation, and warned against speaking badly about other religions or making fun of them. He remarked that ‘if my good friend, Dr Alberto Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch’! True, we have to defend our freedom of speech but Charlie went overboard according to its founder, Henri Roussel, who accused its slain editor of ‘dragging the team’ to death.

The same paper fired one of its cartoonists, Philippe Val, in 2009 for ‘anti-Semitic’ cartoon it deemed offensive to Judaism. In 2008, it fired its cartoonist, Siné, for publishing a cartoon about French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s son converting to Judaism to marry a wealthy Jewish heiress. Israel’s Ambassador to UK last week threatened action against British Sunday Times for publishing a caricature of Israeli PM Netanyahu building a wall with blood and bones of Palestinians. The German publisher Julius Streicher was tried at Nuremburg and executed because his Der Stürmer tabloid published virulently anti-Semitic cartoons.

Freedom of speech must be devoid of double standards, and must respect our highest values of treating ‘human beings with respect, kindness, love and not putting them down in a demeaning, hateful manner’. Jewish blogger Rabbi Michael Lerner argues that ‘violence is an inevitable consequence of a world which systematically dehumanizes so many people who are made to feel powerless and despairing and deeply depressed about the possibility of finding the milk of human kindness anywhere. The representation of evil dominates the media, and becomes the justification for our own evil acts. And that evil is made possible because so many among us avert our eyes and shut our ears to the cries of the oppressed". 

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is the most influential person in history and was "supremely successful" in both the religious and secular realms, deeply revered by billions. Let’s respect him!

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