By Abdeslam El Ferrane
By Abdeslam El Ferrane
Washington D.C – Muslim communities all over the west will have to apologize for, explain, and condemn the horrible massacre of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists and staff. They also will have to give up some of the same civil rights their countrymen in the west enjoy out of fear they might be seen as sympathizers just because they share the same religion as the people who committed these horrible crimes.
Some newspapers, TV stations, and radio hosts will have to forgo their freedom of speech and think twice about what they say in fear of a retaliation that might end their lives. There is truly no winner here. However, we should take this moment to reflect on the price we are paying for the perceived values we are fighting for.
One has to wonder if these extremist murderers believe that their acts actually advance and promote Islam. I really doubt they ever asked themselves that question because the only thing in their mind is revenge in its most brutal form. I would also bet that they recite verses of the Quran during their daily prayers, which categorize the killing of human life as the ultimate sin.
Yet, in order to protect one of their core values, respect to their prophet Mohammed, they have totally ignored his teachings and Islam’s in general. The answer to the frequently asked question, “is Islam a violent religion?” will be confirmed as such with every similar incident. Muslims should keep fighting this fanatic ideology, which has highjacked their religion. Silence is no longer acceptable.
France also needs to take a hard look at its belief system. Throughout the last century, France has not lived up to the same standards expected out of segments of its population. Fifty years after its occurrence, President Francois Hollande finally acknowledged the 1961 massacre in which Parisian police officers opened fire on peaceful protestors, killing many, for going to the street in support of the movement to liberate Algeria from French colonization. Despite eyewitness reports and years of cover-ups, no one has ever been held accountable for the killings.
In 2007, the EU made it illegal to question the Holocaust. In France, Holocaust doubters were jailed and academic researchers lost their jobs for publishing their doubt about the number of Holocaust victims – an approach contrary to the concept of freedom of speech. The rationale for this policy is that due to what happened to the Jewish community in Europe, forgoing this God given right of free speech is necessary to prevent another Holocaust from happening.
In 2009, the French government also made the famous ban on wearing burqas, yarmulkes, and any other religious symbols in the public school system. This led to many religious leaders, mostly Muslims and Jews, to protest the ban with no success. The French court also upheld the right for private companies to fire an employee for wearing a headscarf, a religious necessity for many Muslim women. Increasingly, France is curtailing religious freedoms, especially those of Muslims, in the name of secularism and the fight against terror.
In 2014, the French government banned pro Palestinian rallies for fear of violence. “I cannot accept a repetition [of these acts of violence] and I cannot take the risk of seeing French citizens, whatever their religious affiliations, exposed to violence,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters. For many, this was a big blow to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, freedoms necessary in order to be considered a free democratic society.
The examples stated above are a few out of many. France believes these restrictions are necessary to prevent violence, and promote integration, empathy, and tolerance. However, these concessions are made all at the expense of the freedom of some but not all. While the vast majority recognize the necessity of freedom of speech, the process of upholding it seems, to the voiceless, to be subjective, negotiable, and up for interpretation but never absolute.
Police departments warned us of the violent backlash we might face because of the published cartoons. Muslim leaders pleaded for the media to stop publishing these cartoons. In a similar incident, riots erupted all over the Muslim world and an American ambassador might have lost his life because of a movie degrading the Muslim prophet broadcasted on YouTube. For this reason, violent reaction after the publishing of the cartoons was imminent according to many.
Given the social climate, wouldn’t it have been wise for the French government to ask Charlie Hebdo to relinquish some of its freedom of speech just as it has revoked many civil rights within the Muslim community in the name of tolerance and elimination of violence? Defending our values at any price might make us feel heroic, but being flexible might do us a lot more good.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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