I am Charlie — Je suis Charlie

No, obviously I am not. He’s dead now, because of two morons who didn’t believe in their religion enough to let it win the argument on merits. Because the moment you pick up a gun to answer an opinion, a satirical drawing et.c, you admit that you have lost the “battle” of ideologies. That is, if you insist that we must absolutely have such a battle.

Now, I’m a religious person, I confess Jesus before the world, but I fully understand that all people are not persuaded by the same things as I am. I take the message of peace, and love of my fellow humanity, seriously. That is why I turn away from a fight, if it isn’t mine to fight. And converting the people of the world was never my job, it has always been the job of the Holy Spirit. But at 11:30 CET on Wednesday morning, two men chose to walk into the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and shot many people, killing at least a dozen. Those two were deluded into thinking that they somehow defended their religion, when they did that. I cannot see how the sort of hatred that cold-blooded murder of this many people can possibly spring from a religious conviction. It is fanaticism at its worst!

The choice of Charlie Hebdo is not a mystery in itself, because Charlie published satirical cartoons on all kind of things under the sun, including all religions. However, some of the satirised were not understanding. They were not willing to look at their religion from the viewpoint of those, who had not been brought up or converted to that religion, or political ideology, whatever. Now, I joke about all kinds of things, including my own religion, because I have been an outsider. I never mean any harm or offence, I just point out some logical inconsistencies, and wonder aloud about them. My family members understand that, and so do most reasonable people. Yet some take offence. The offence is a perceived offence.

The terrorists  in the Charlie Hebdo case happened to be Muslims. There’s nothing really in the actual religion that would require any such thing, especially in today’s world, when we have learnt to negotiate and reason with each other; we are no longer cavemen. Perhaps their faith in their religion was so feeble, that they couldn’t stand those inconsistencies and sometimes even ridiculous things were pointed out. Too bad for them, but much worse to the victims of their barbarity.

What would be the best reaction to something like that? Shut up? Stop satire, because someone, somewhere might be offended? No! The best reaction, in my opinion would be to defend freedom of expression by pointing out the ridiculous nature of an act that is somehow supposed to show that a particular religion is superior. If the attack had anything at all to do with religion, it was to show that the attackers did not really believe that God can do all things that he feels necessary, and that he will stand almighty after we are all gone, the whole world. So they disrespected their God by avenging (which crime, exactly?) on his behalf, because they didn’t think he could. If vengeance truly was called for? What if the preachers and scribes of their religion had corrupted the message of the Prophet from God?

One would think an almighty God would fix that, too, but then why would a human hand be needed in vengeance? That is why this has nothing to do with religion, but is pure fanaticism. There are understandable reasons for that, perhaps, although it doesn’t justify it. The war that liberated Algeria from French colonial power was bloody to the extreme, and there are many wounds–on both sides–that haven’t fully healed. Likewise, on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, a new network of borders was enforced by the Western Allies, and that occupation lasts till today. Again, this is not, not a justification for murder; there can never be one.

So you see I have more questions than answers.

But I know deep in my heart that the freedom of expression equals freedom of conscience, and without it we are doomed to go astray. So I will defend your right to offend me, even on purpose, if you so choose. I also make some effort to not take offence. What if someone means to offend me? Should I reward that person by being offended? But the fact also is, that if I seek to frankly express my opinion, and if I never offend anybody in doing so, I am actually a bit of a wet blanket damp squib.

That is why, this week, Je suis Charlie–I am Charlie! I am standing up and saying NO! We will not be cowed. Criminals will always find their reasons, and we cannot change that. But to give in to hatred and division is never the answer.

 

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Posted in Islam, Nonviolence, Politics, Religion, Society
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