Don't just denounce the assault, damn the cartoons too.
Due to the result of extremist attitudes from all the sides we tend to take sides, or come up with our judgments so swiftly that we never think of the intricacies involved. Bush’s doctrine of ‘either you are with us or with them’ does not have to be the principle of this world. However, that is what it’s turning out to be. Yes, I am talking about the Paris attacks on 7th December this year on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were killed including 2 policemen. As far as my understanding of Prophet is concerned, he didn’t order any killings for the disparaging behaviour he had to face. So, killing of these cartoonists being Islamic/UnIslamic, is not what I’m going to talk about. Neither am I under the impression that those killers will read this and mend their ways. I am also not interested in showing how liberal and secular I am to my readers. In fact, I write this with a deep sense of worry for the peaceful coexistence of Muslims with others. And its responsibility does not lie with Muslims alone.
There were instant reactions by the Muslims on social networking sites, ridiculing this attack and there was a miniscule minority who were not so unhappy. The point I want to make is we cannot condone and be happy about such killings, but I have a concern. Those Muslims who’re announcing their abhorrence towards the assault in Paris and do not express their displeasure about the deliberate and incessant incitement and provocations made by this satirical newspaper, are also sending wrong signals out. This will be taken as an approval from majority of Muslims, for such outrageous cartoons, in the future. This makes the martyrs out of iconoclasts like Stephaine Charbonnier. This gives a sense of heroism to them and will automatically inspire others to do the same. It’s because Muslims in general have been put on a defensive, which is why we instantly come out with our condemnations, which is fine but sometimes not talking about the other side too, to draw the line clearly, is a disservice to all. Al Jazeera America carried an article by Arthur Goldhammer on Jan7th,2015 ‘Let’s not Sacralize Charlie Hebdo’. Arthur, an affiliate of the Centre for European Studies at Harvard University, wrote that while mourning this tragedy we should not forget that Charlie Hebdo’s works were crude, exaggerated, preposterous, shocking, obscene and offensive. This is very crucial. We need to decry the murder but at the same time express our hurt caused by this French Newspaper, repeatedly. Our grievances with this media house should not be misconstrued as our condoning of the assailants. As I mentioned earlier, that some issues can not be classified in the Bush’s doctrine of ‘either you are with us or them’. I do not approve of these murders but I also disapprove of the intentional & repeated publishing of the obsence cartoons, as reported by The Guardian on Jan7th,2015. There are 1.5 billion Muslims in this world and most of them hold Prophet closer to their heart than their parents and children. I know Prophet won’t be hurt by somebody’s cartoons and lampooning but it hurts his more than a billion lovers. I also know violence is not an Islamic answer to it, but then how can we expect billion Muslims to adhere to Islam so perfectly that they could control their angst. This is not just about the Paris attackers. I don’t even know who they were. I am talking in the interest of humanity. Arguments, whether denigration of Islam or its Prophet should infuriate Muslims or not, and to what extent this angst is acceptable, will not help. The fact is that it does incense many who are not invariably able to follow Islamic way of Patience. So why do it and risk the world peace? After all making outrageous pictures of such a revered man, knowing it hurts a billion people, is taking an undue advantage of ‘the Freedom of expression argument’. The answer is that some do it because the violent reaction by some Muslims, bring them into the limelight and make stars out of mediocre writers.
Islam teaches us to be patient, even when our parents are abused. This is the commandment. However, the practicality is different at times. We are humans. Some of us do react. So, the general rule of almost all the societies is not to abuse and provoke, without justifying the violent reprisal it may incur. Same should apply here. Let’s agree to refrain from mocking the Prophet of Islam and condemn the violence in his name, too.
(Mehboob Makhdoomi is an MBA from Pennsylvania University (IUP) United States with a research degree from Cardiff University, United Kingdom. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)