Opinion | Guest Contributor | 2015.01.26
I could never condone the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. As a Muslim I am against a kangaroo court justice system and individuals are not allowed to take matters into their own hands. However, I do believe the editor and cartoonist are certainly not innocent people writes guest contributor, Saajidah Malvina.
People have reacted with mixed emotions after the attack. Some took to social networks with hashtag “Je suis Charlie” whilst some people in Pakistan performed prayers for the “attackers”. Media across the world covered the story in great detail demanding freedom of speech. Perhaps they’ve forgotten about the 17 journalists who were killed earlier in Gaza. Forgetting at the same time about the almost 2000 people who lost their lives after Boko Haram attacked several villages in Nigeria.
“Je suis Charlie // “We are Charlie” means “we have the right to blaspheme”. In the name of freedom of speech Islam and Christianity are regularly attacked but never is the holocaust, Israel or Judaism ever ridiculed in satire. The question remains if French intelligence knew of the impending attack and allowed it to happen, or it was carried out just in the name of Islam – a false flag is a topic of it’s own.
The French have had it coming for years. In the 1700’s a debt to Algeria was not paid and about hundred years later when they asked for money, King Charles mobilised troops across Europe to fight, which in turn lead to a deadly war. Thousands were ruthlessly massacred some hundred years ago after which Algeria was colonised. Arab troops assisted France in one of France’s wars but after their return they were marginalised, and this has caused great anger
France has the biggest Muslim population in Europe with figures varying to about 6 million. There’s no official count, as the secular country doesn’t wish to divide between religion, which is separate from the state, yet the vast majority are unemployed and live in ghettos. Banning of the face veil caused an uproar and women caught donning the veil face a hefty fine. 60% of prison inmates are Muslim. In 2010 youth and French security faced an uprising after Arab youth complained of injustice and harassment.
Freedom, what freedom?
Absolute freedom of speech has never existed, nor does it.
The claims of France (& the Western world) that free expression is a fundamental principal, is a myth. As everywhere else in the ‘Free World’ in France free expression is only for some but not others. Let’s look at a few examples.
– A French court injunction banned a Jesus-based clothing advert mimicking the ‘Last Supper’. The display was ruled “a gratuitous and aggressive act of intrusion on people’s innermost beliefs” by the French judge.
– In 2005 ‘Aides Haute-Garonne’ organised an informative evening about the prevention of the HIV-AIDS. The prospectus contained a head-and-shoulders image of a woman wearing a nun’s bonnet and two pink condoms. On the grounds that the prospectus insulted a religious group as court convicted Aides Haute-Garonne.
– In 1994 Le quotidien de Paris published the article L’obscurité de l’erreur by journalist, sociologist, and historian Paul Giniewski. The article criticised the Pope, and stated that Catholic doctrine abetted the conception and the realisation of Auschwitz. A court upheld proceedings on the ground that the article was an insult to a group because of its religion, and convicted the newspaper.
– Charlie Hebdo Magazine itself censored, apologised and then fired longtime cartoonist Siné for a caricature insulting the son of former president Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, while staunchly standing on their ‘right’ to repeatedly troll Muslims, minorities & immigrants e.g. by showing the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) naked and bending over—which tells you something about the brand of satire they practice and that they’d rather be aiming downward towards minorities than upward.
– Dieudonné M’Bala a French comedian and satirist – was convicted and fined in France for describing Holocaust remembrance as “memorial pornography”.
– As part of “internal security” enactments passed in 2003, it is an offense to insult the national flag or anthem, with a penalty of a maximum 9,000-euro fine or up to six months imprisonment. Restrictions on “offending the dignity of the republic”, and include “insulting” anyone who serves the public.
– Nicolas Sarkozy, then-Interior Minister and former President of the Republic (until 2012), ordered the firing of the director of Paris Match — because he had published photos of Cécilia Sarkozy (his wife) with another man in New York.
– It is illegal in France take the opinion of the Turkish side on the then civil war involving Armenians, i.e. illegal to deny that the killing of Amenians by Turkish troops was a deliberate genocide.
– Muslim women are barred from education (it’s not just the Taliban just restrict education for girls) in France, if they practise their religion by wearing a headscarf. This despite French schools having no uniform policy, and crosses on necklaces being allowed.
France’s law against “religious symbols in public spaces” is specifically enforced to target Muslim women who choose to wear Hijab – that is ironic considering we’re now touting Charlie Hebdo as a symbol of France’s staunch commitment to civil liberties.
In 2006 rap star Monsieur R appeared in court charged with offending public decency with a song in which he referred to the country in a derogatory manner and insulted national heroes Napoleon and Charles de Gaulle. MP Daniel Mach proposed a law making it a criminal offence to insult the dignity of France and the French state upon hearing the album.
That’s right folks. It is illegal to insult the French state and her sacred historical characters like Napoleon and Charles De Gaulle. But Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the single most influential person & ideal of divine justice for 1.6 billion people is fair game.
Letter to Imams – Instill a British identity within your congregations (or else)
umm Abdillah, Radio Islam Programming | 2015.01.21 | 28 Rabiul Awwal 1436
The War on Terror has had too many outcomes to name. Among the most underplayed are those of creating the Muslim other. The psychological impact of being the most scrutinised, profiled and hated leaves more than a bitter aftertaste: it’s oppressive. That is why The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has raised objection to a letter urging senior Muslims to explain how Islam “can be part of British identity”.
In a letter sent to more than 1000 Islamic leaders, Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles stressed that he wasproud of the way Muslims in Britain had responded to the Paris terror attacks, but added that there was “more work to do” in rooting out extremists and preventing young people being radicalised. In the letter, co-signed with Muslim peer, Lord Tariq Ahmad, Pickles told British Imams: “You, as faith leaders, are in a unique position in our society. You have a precious opportunity, and an important responsibility, in explaining and demonstrating how faith in Islam can be part of British identity.” Radicalism “cannot be solved from Whitehall alone”. Prime Minister David Cameron strongly defended Mr Pickles’ remarks made in the letter sent to mosques in England – saying they were “reasonable, sensible and moderate” and that anyone who took issue with them had a problem.
The Muslim Council on the other hand said that Muslims should not have to go out of their way prove to loyalty to Britain and rejected suggestions that they were somehow “inherently apart from British society” while Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said he was dismayed by Mr Pickles’ letter, which was “typical of the government only looking at Muslims through the prism of terrorism and security”. He added that his comments were “patronising and factually incorrect”. “We do not need a patronising letter from ministers to tell us to campaign against terrorism, promote values and do more against extremism when all the evidence points to Muslims organisations doing just that,” he said.
According to the BBC, the government has always worked closely with the Muslim Council of Britain till about about 10 years ago when ministers began to seek out other more “moderate” Muslim partners.
The letter has been criticised by other religious leaders too. The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nicholls, said it should have asked “how Muslims can contribute to our values, not just have asked how Islam can be part of British identity”.
Muslims make for around 5.2% of the overall British population of 63 million. Muslim hate-crime in London has shot up by almost 65% in the last year. Metropolitan Police figures show that incidents of hate crime rose from 344 to 570 in the last year, and women are key targets because of their identifiable Islamic dress.
Muslim community leaders in the past have condemned terrorism committed by Muslims in language clouded by the rhetoric of minority grievance. And yes, it is natural that the departure of a hundred young Muslims to fight for ISIS raise questions about community loyalty.
The big question remains on how the “ordinary” Muslim reacts to all this: treat the sneering left and the Muslim-baiting right with equal contempt?
The best answer is not to become despondent, but to reexamine the individual role of living as a purposeful Muslim. As a manual for daily living, the sunnah is something to be proud about. It is easily transferable. Despite all the negatives, Islam is Britain’s fastest-growing religion, having doubled its numbers to around three million since 2000. One in ten children under the age of four is a Muslim. Sure, racial hate and savagery by militant thugs may dampen the overall atmosphere but it’s time to examine a relationship with ordinary Britons.
There are academic studies which challenge the link between religion and war. Research published from the New York and Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace looked at all of the wars that took place in 2013. It found no ‘general causal relationship’ between religion and conflict.
In fact, religious elements played no role at all in 14 (40%) of the 35 armed conflicts in the research, and only five (14%) had religious elements as their main cause, the report showed. All of the wars had multiple causes, and the much more common motivation was opposition to a government, or to the economic, ideological, political or social systems of a state, which was named as a main factor in nearly two thirds of the cases studied.
The positive role of religion in maintaining peace is often overlooked in the media. Last year March, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Aberdeen, Scotland, became the first church in the United Kingdom to share its premises with Muslim worshippers. Church officials now welcome hundreds of Muslims praying five times a day in their building because the nearby mosque is filled to overcapacity and Muslim worshippers are forced to pray outside.
The ordinary “Zaid Bakr and Amr” can take solace in knowing that indeed, some of the most iconic advocates for peace are, or were, deeply religious: Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi and Bishop Desmond Tutu. It never too late to examine a relationship with ordinary Britons, it is time to counter the mainstream narrative: Islam deserves so much more than being analysed through the prism of terrorism and security. Every Muslim is a worker.