By Kainat Sarfaraz:
Je Suis Charlie.
I am Charlie.
The internet is exploding with these words. People across various ages, races and religions are condemning Wednesday’s attack on the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo magazine. The violence claimed the lives of 12 people. Some of them, only cartoonists. Their only mistake? They tried to inject humour into instances which usually went unnoticed. They spoke their minds through their cartoons. They exercised their right to the freedom of speech and expression. And they were silenced for that. The world, however, refuses to be silenced by the terror created by the extremists who chanted ‘Allah-u-Akbar’ while going on the killing spree.
Few years ago, when WhatsApp was not the order of the day, I remember receiving forward messages which vociferously condemned the cartoons made by a Danish newspaper organization, Jyllands-Posten and called for extremist measures.Why? Because they were the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad and according to Islamic law, one wasn’t allowed to create images depicting the Holy Prophet. Thus, when Charlie Hebdo decided to reprint these cartoons in 2006, it received flak from Muslims and Muslim organizations alleging that the images incited hatred against Muslims.
What does Wednesday’s incident do then? Incite strong love and reverence for the Muslim community? I doubt so.
What appalls me more is that there are Muslims who still justify these kinds of terror attacks. Their minds refuse to see the logic proposed by these organizations. They will constantly ignore the fact that the whole world is NOT governed by Islamic laws. They will ignore their own book which preaches, requests and orders to be non-violent. They will have none of it! They will forget their Prophet’s message of peace and do what they think is just and fair. They will forget Chapter 15, verse 95 the Holy Quraan which says, “Indeed, We are sufficient for you against the mockers”. They will forget the hadith in which the Prophet himself refuses to curse the people who bothered him saying, “I have not been sent to lay a curse upon men but to be a blessing to them.” (Muslim)
I am a practicing Muslim. The Islam I know and read about does not advocate violence. We have read this countless number of times and yet, the message fails to drive home. While writing this piece, I feel utterly helpless as to how should I broaden the minds of those who are constantly falling prey to the misinterpretation of the holy texts. They are turning to violence to preserve their faith. And sadly, the practice is not just limited to Muslims and Islam.
People across various religions are plagued by this phenomenon. They are averse to all forms of criticism and are not open to discussions. What else would justify the exile of M.F. Husain, ban on Vishwaroopam, Satanic Verses and the withdrawal of The Hindus: An Alternative History. The simple fact is that merely saying certain things about one’s religion does not change its basic tenets. I wonder when will people understand this?. And if you constantly take the path of violence, the blame is yours to take.
The same Muslims who out rightly condemned the Peshawar School Attack by the Talibans are not so vocal about Wednesday’s attack. Why? Just because these were adult men and the Talibanis had targeted little children? Does the value of life flicker with the age limit? Despite being two different instances in two different countries, they underline the common agenda of these people. ‘Kill those who oppose us and our version of the religion.’
To them I say, let the Gods take care of themselves. Let them defend themselves.