Je Suis Charlie. A phrase no one had ever heard before was all over the Social Media on 7th January, 2015. Many of us might not have given it much thought and just moved on, but after a while, it became hard to ignore. Every single post, every single page, every single person had the same phrase pasted on their walls. “Je Suis Charlie”. This made me wonder, what was the big deal? And upon very little research I got to know this was the world’s way of protesting against The Charlie Hebdo shooting, which was committed by “islamic” extremists as a payback for ridiculing and using our beloved Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) as a piece of humour.
When the news of the shooting spread, everyone on social media was outraged. Most of them (including me) had probably never heard of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, but all of a sudden everyone was shocked and offended because their freedom of expression, freedom of media was questioned. This is what gave rise to the phrase “Je Suis Charlie”, I am Charlie. I am free, I am not afraid.Everybody was then busy in blaming this whole situation on Muslims, on the religion of Islam. Everybody went on and on about how Islam is just about oppression and how Muslims were all “anti-peace”. It reached to a point where the phrase “Kill All Muslims” was trending on twitter.
The media, at that time, was not much interested in a bomb that went off outside the NAACP’s Colorado Springs headquarters the same day as they were highlighting the attack in Paris. It was a balding white man who was seen setting the bomb, some reports claim, and so the media described it as an act of a troubled “lone individual,” rather than as a white right wing Christian fundamentalist terrorist. Few Americans have even heard of this incident.
Freedom of Expression; the freedom to express our opinion out in the open without any restriction. This freedom is what everyone is so fiercely fighting for. Free speech and Individual human liberty. Freedom of Expression which was never questioned when many Jewish people were continuously threatened for expressing their disagreement with the Israeli’s by supporting Gaza, which was not questioned when women in France were stripped out of their Hijab and anyone who dared to support them was instantly prosecuted. This Freedom of thought was not considered to be undermined when former White House correspondent Helen Thomas was fired for expressing her thoughts against Israel. But mocking someone’s religion, ridiculing the one person who they love the most, who gives them hope, that is their idea of Freedom of Expression.
“But they ridicule everyone’s religion, not just the Muslim’s, so isn’t that fair?” we are reassured. But the reassurance isn’t reassuring. That they ridicule everyone is exactly the problem — the general cheapening and demeaning of others is destructive to everyone.
“And shouldn’t free speech and individual human liberties be our highest value? No, individual human liberties is not our highest value. Our highest value is treating human beings with love, kindness, generosity, respect and see them as embodiments of the holy, and treating the earth as sacred. Free speech is not defeated when we use it to try to marginalize hateful or demeaning speech. So let’s call demeaning speech, including demeaning humour, what it really is – an assault on the dignity of human beings.
They blame Prophet Mohammed and his teachings for all the terror that is being spread in the world. What they do not understand in that they cannot insult something so dear to us. They cannot call us terrorists for retaliating against such a thing. No, the Muslims have never and will never support the people who terrorize the world, but no, we do not sympathize with Charlie Hebdo. If this makes the world name us terrorists and call us the anti-peacemakers, then we want them to open a book and learn about Prophet Mohammed (SAW). The ultimate symbol of peace among all mankind. He was the person who had a Jewish lady throwing garbage on him every single day, but on finding about her being ill, visited her to see how she feels. The man who secretly fed a poor old blind man, who every day, did nothing but yelled and mocked him. He was a man who was pelted with stones until his sandals were soaked in blood and stoned out of the city of Ta’if, yet he never asked God to destroy them but only to guide them.
So I ask. Why? Why is it that when John commits a crime, John gets blamed; but when Ahmed commits the crime, Islam gets blamed?