Condemning an event without condemning the actions that led up to that event is just just useless lip service, otherwise known as politics. Since the shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo I have been asked to “clarify my position”. Non Muslim westerners ask because, in their eyes, if I condemn the killings then I can still stay in the club of “relatively decent Muslims”. If I don’t condemn then I’m labeled a terrorist sympathizer that must be watched (at least) and taught a lesson at worst. If a Muslim asks me then, depending on what he believes, it either authenticates my true “Islamic blood” or it shows them that I’m some kind of fake/fanatic Muslim at best or at worst I am a sell out or agent who deserves to have some body parts removed that I might be needing to keep intact.
So I have a message for each group who would ask me this question. I have to separate the two groups and send two messages because they think differently and if I spoke the same to both groups there might be some confusion.
If a non Muslim asks: “Do you condemn the Charlie Hebdo Killings?”
Answer: To condemn this act and forget the actions that led up to it is about the most asinine thing I could imagine! Do you think this is simply about a cartoon image of the Prophet Muhammad? There have been countless images of the Prophet drawn over the years, and while Muslims don’t agree with depicting his image, why has it not evoked such a fierce response in the past? More on that in a minute.
France has a long history of aggression against Muslims. If we only want to talk about recent history let’s start with the hundreds of thousands dead in Afghanistan and Iraq due to the active participation of the French government in American led wars. Let’s talk now about the “assistance” the French army has been giving the death squads in the Central African Republic by disarming the Muslims and leaving their adversaries armed. Creating an atmosphere of defenseless Muslims against armed gangs. Should we stop here? Let’s go further, to French support of the Algerian government in the 1990’s when they decided to cancel elections that Islamic political forces were set to win. Thus paving the way for more than 150,000 to be killed in an ugly and brutal civil war that didn’t have to happen. For the sake of brevity we will stop there even though we could continue to discuss France’s history when it comes to Muslim affairs.
France talks about freedom of expression yet it bans Muslim women from covering their faces in public. Is that not their right to express their religion? Women can walk freely in France scantily clad because it is their “right” to dress how they want no matter who it offends, but Muslim women are not afforded this right. Freedom of expression doesn’t include her. Muslims are ridiculed in the media, yet they are not allowed to express themselves if their opinion goes against the “French norm” or they will be arrested like French comedian Dieudonne “Je suis Charlie Coulibaly” (I am Charlie Coulibaly) on his Facebook page. Where was his freedom of speech allowance?
Maurice Sinet was fired from Charlie Hebdo in 2009 because he drew a cartoon that was considered anti Semitic. Where was the freedom of expression then? Thus freedom of speech in France only means freedom to offend those whose opinions I don’t like.
Then we have the two attackers Said and Cherif Kouachi. In this backdrop of French double standards and aggression, a cartoonist draws a pornographic image of the Prophet Muhammad. As I mentioned earlier, the image of the Prophet Muhammad has been done in the past, but not in this fashion. How would Christians feel if the image was replaced by a caricature of Jesus naked and in a pornographic pose? Said and Cherif Kouachi, interestingly are of Algerian decent, took matters into their own hands and decided they had had enough of being subjugated, marginalized, and ridiculed. Thus happened what happened. Most westerners want to pretend that there was no pretext to this event and it just happened in a vacuum. This type of thinking is not in touch with reality.
So if you ask me if I condemn the killings I will ask you if you condemn the events that led up to those killings first. Then and only then can we seriously talk about Charlie Hebdo.
If a Muslim asks me: “Do you condemn the Charlie Hebdo killings?”
Answer: Muslims have been blaming the west for all their woes for too long. Are western governments committing war crimes and atrocities against Muslims? Yes. However that has more to do with us and our weakness than it has to do with them and their strength. The Islamic resistance in Syria had Bashar Assad on the ropes in early 2013. The regime was about to fall then ISIS emerged, ran rampant and the revolution has been backtracking ever since. All the while they’ve been dragging the name of Islam through mud with their senseless killing and treachery. Where was the overwhelming Muslim response of god-fearing warriors to confront them and peacefully force them to stand down? Muslims have sat in the comforts of their homes hoping someone else will stop them. Please spare me another “Not in my name” campaign. What about Boko Haram? When non Muslims see these false images of Islam, they are understandably uncomfortable.
If you don’t clean up your house, then someone else will do it for you. The west has volunteered for the job but they are also trying to ruin more than just ISIS in the process in spite of what they may be saying publicly. It was through our apathy, laziness, and fear that we didn’t stop ISIS ourselves. Now we want to blame the others who got involved, I suspect for their own sinister reasons, while we were content to be spectators.
Where are the Islamic TV channels that communicate authentic news to the masses of both Muslims and non Muslims instead of relying on CNN, Fox, etc? Notice I did not say “Muslim owned” TV channels but I said “Islamic”. Any Muslim can own a TV network and broadcast the same immorality and propaganda that other channels broadcast. I’m talking about channels or internet based news outlets that are dedicated to spreading authentic news and authentic Muslim values. Why hasn’t it been established on a proper scale? Most Islamic media companies are in financial ruin and never have any type of respectable operating budget. It’s hard work trying to cover a story in a foreign country when your correspondents don’t have plane fare. Why is that? It is because we always believe someone else will do it. If we can’t communicate proper messages to the masses then don’t blame western media for doing what they do. Some western channels don’t necessarily, although some do, demonize Muslims on purpose because they inherently hate them, some do it out of ignorance of the truths because Muslims haven’t articulated those truths properly and widely enough.
If both sides don’t start talking to each other an apocalypse is waiting for us all. Does the West think the 1.5 billion Muslims will simply roll over and play dead forever as they transgress the bounds? Do Muslims think that by perpetrating some acts of killing innocent people it will cause the west to buckle and run away? Western media is playing a huge role in galvanizing the people to accept only a military solutions to its issues with Muslims. This is a monstrous mistake. I often hear in western media “many Muslims are peaceful”. Yes, it is true but how long will that remain? How long SHOULD it remain if no serious dialogue options are on the table? If I condemn or don’t condemn the Charlie Hebdo killings then the dialogue will be still borne. Westerners and Muslims have to look at the entire picture that surrounds Charlie Hebdo.