Now that the tension and media attention about France’s recent terrorism ordeal had gone down slightly I would like to share my thoughts regarding this issue which was, evidently given my background, very much close to my heart. I must state very clearly upfront that, although I am atheist and am rather anti-religion, I respect the fact that we live in a multicultural society and I have nothing against anybody who practices any religion. In particular, I respect the Muslim community and I do not affiliate the recent events with your religion and beliefs at all. On the contrary, I wish to console you for having to undergo what must be some particularly scary times for you. The only thing I do have a problem with is those people who drive negative extremist ideologies in the name of religion but I will come to that a bit later in my post.
Charlie Hebdo. Where do I even begin?
First off, I wish to send my deepest condolences those who have been affected by these attacks and to all the families and friends of the victims. Now, writing about this topic is proving much more difficult than I would have ever imagined. Why? Because this whole matter began by an attack on writers. An attack on freedom of expression. So yes, there is a strange feeling of anxiousness hovering over me as I am typing on my old laptop keyboard. But let me tell you. The more I write, the more this grey cloud is disappearing. Charlie Hebdo, you are an inspiration. I realise how grateful I am to live in a democratic country where I am allowed to share my opinions and views.
Charlie Hebdo represents the right to freely express ourselves, the right to laugh and be satirical. Yes, they had an opinion and more often than not distributed very grotesque cartoons. Yes, they offended certain people and schools of thoughts. But what is a world where we cannot share ideas and opinions? If we didn’t have people who had the courage to object to certain ideologies then how can the world ever evolve and become a better place?
I’m not going to hide the fact that I felt slightly uneasy about Charlie Hebdo’s most recent cartoon cover which came out last Wednesday. I thought to myself ‘Ahhh is it kind of bad that they are representing the prophet again? That’s the main reason they were so cruelly attacked in the first place. Will it offend more people and stir up even more tension?’ Then my opinion shifted. I realised that, yes there is no doubt that drawing a cartoon representing the prophet is against the Muslim religion. However, just because some people who practice a religion are not allowed to draw their prophet doesn’t mean that everybody must obey to this rule. Just like some people are not allowed to eat pork for religious reasons yet it would be absurd to ban pork from every restaurant for example. You might think that’s it’s naive of me to say that. I know this is not just black and white. But at the end of the day, as much as I respect the fact that I might be making some uninformed judgment here, I do believe that just because certain religions impose certain rules it does not mean that if someone were to disobey that rule (whether they are practicing the religion or not) they should be physically or mentally attacked.
What do I take from all of this?
What I admire the most about France is its deep culture. French people are known for debates, we have constant debates whether it be between our political parties to debates during family dinners. This is what makes us special. This is why some of the most significant paradigm shifts have been driven by French philosophers.
The recent atrocities have not only shaken France but the whole planet. However, somehow these events were also very significant. They gave French people the opportunity to feel and demonstrate a great deal of mobilisation and unity. Together, we are stronger than the desire to activate fear and violence.
Sadly, there is without a doubt a growing terrorism movement. However, the people who believe in such ideology will never win. How do we stop them? I do not have the answer. All I can say is we must erase those extremist negative ideologies from a large number of people. They need to realise that no religion would applaud committing an act of terrorism. On the contrary, their barbaric actions reflect extremely poorly on the religion they claim to be driven by. We need to target the people who brainwash disadvantaged ones and install within them dangerous attitudes and behaviours. Most importantly, we need to stand strong and not be afraid to speak out against extremists. Newspapers like Charlie Hebdo have a very significant role to play in communicating a warning message to the world.
I could go on an on about this issue which fascinates me but I understand that you have better things to do then to read my blog for hours so I’ll try to keep it short.
To the victims of the attacks, I send my deepest condolences. You will be remembered forever. You have not suffered for nothing, Your courage and opinion has been spread across the world and has be heard. Rest in peace.