Note: The following article has been modelled closely to resemble literary non-fiction. The views expressed are for the purpose of calling out religious extremism and not attack any particular religion or community.
It was a lovely Saturday afternoon in the suburbs of Paris, a lovely day to learn, a lovely day to listen. There was a school in which there was a teacher, the teacher had his lesson ready for the students, the students were ready for yet another vibrant session. The topic had been chosen by the teacher, there he showed a picture from 5 years back, it was a cartoon.
He raised a question, who remembers this picture? Students looked at each other, they started whispering nervously, some knew, some didn’t. The ones who knew were afraid to speak, the ones who didn’t were eager to know. Don’t worry, said the teacher, answer without any fear!
Yes, you! Do you know? The teacher asked one student who seemed like he knew, he started trembling his lips. The teacher asked once more, do you know this picture? The students kept trembling his lips.
This famous cartoon is by Charlie Hebdo, it was first released in 2015 and soon after it evoked anger in a lot of people. As much as that it became the reason for the attack in the office of the cartoonist killing almost 12 people. The teacher moved his eyes in the entire classroom, now you all remember this picture?
But the question is why am I showing this to all of you today? How is it relevant to our topic? Nobody had the answer but they were eager to know the answer.
I’m showing this because this picture is the proof of freedom of expression, which the cartoonist practiced, which is also our topic for today, freedom of expression!
The skills can be condemned, the work can be condemned, the quality can be condemned but the right to practice cannot be condemned, especially by killing people. Today I show this picture to tell all of you that we should and let others practise their freedom of expression.
Many students heard, most understood, few got enraged.
The news came later that day, the same teacher had been killed by some teenager! One more killing in the name of the Charlie Hebdo cartoon.
The French president spoke and spoke bluntly, spoke about extremism and its end products. Condemned the death of the teacher and warned the suspects along with its sympathizers.
Soon after which a voice came from 35,000 km away, the president of Turkey asked the French president to watch his words and consult a psychiatrist, followed by condemnation from the Muslim world on the remarks made by the French president.
Yet again I get reminded of Christopher Hitchens who once said in his book ‘God Is Not Great’ that “religion is poison”.