Sumedha Sarvadaman
Who is Making the World More Islamophobic?

Part of the population said they did not support murder, but added a ‘reason’ for the carnage. Many others did not show even that much decency; they simply said the cartoonists deserved it. So who is making the world Islamophobic— those who follow Islam or those who don’t?

In the reignited debate between free speech and religious sensitivities, one has to be really stupid to discuss limits of Freedom of Expression with a gun stuck to the head. Much of the ‘free’ media voluntarily followed the Shari’ah by not showing Charlie…’s cartoons while covering his story. The blood hadn’t even dried up, and I read so many nuanced articles by journalists, justifying the terror act, blaming Charlie… for needless provocation, discussing ‘root cause’ theories, attempts at putting Islam on a sacred pedestal, that I knew terror had won again. So cowards, let’s stop the nonsensical debate.

The blood hadn’t even dried up and one could see terror had won. The ‘free’ world leapfrogged to protect its poor little underfed baby called Islam, which constantly needs nothing but “understanding”. They justified the terror act, blamed Charlie… for unnecessary provocation, discussed ‘root cause’ theories, attempted to put Islam on an even higher pedestal, and came up with those sanctimonious statements which condemned the attack, yet saw a ‘reason’ why some Muslims did it.

When you should be telling them, ‘Enough is enough, your Book is not higher than human laws; stop getting offended by cartoons and baloney sandwiches,’ we are instead indulging in a tête-à-tête about freedom of expression with a religion which has no concept of it. We all know how it will end, with the ‘free world’ further falling in line with Shari’ah prescribed ‘freedom’. Shudders!

For Charlie…, nothing has ever been sacred or beyond criticism. They use brutal, merciless satire, offending — if it’s deliberate, so be it — those who brutally abuse power. To the cartoonists, religious extremism or supporting it is un-French; it’s anti-democracy. As Justin Peters says, “Charlie Hebdo was born in 1970 from the ashes of another satirical magazine, Hara-Kiri, which was banned by the state after it published an issue mocking the death of Charles de Gaulle. Both magazines were products of the May 1968 nationwide protests that rejected de Gaulle’s capitalist policies and birthed the defiant slogan, ‘It is forbidden to forbid.’ Since then, Charlie Hebdo has hewed to the same anarchic, anti-statist editorial philosophy and the sense that it is dangerous to liberty to be too reverent toward authority.”

They got into trouble many a time; their website was hacked and plastered with the message, “No God but Allah.” They got death threats, got bombed in 2011, reportedly some were also on Al Qaida hit list. They got slammed with court cases, which they won, but never did they compromise on their defiant philosophy: “It’s forbidden to forbid.”

They aren’t about Islamophobia, it is an anti-clerical attitude targeting all religions that has long been a facet of French media tradition. But their own government failed them. While it was all very nice to see world leaders march down the streets the Paris in solidarity with “Je suis Charlie” with security and guns stacked on the streets, was France really Charlie?

Take out European Russia and do not consider Turkey European, and you have France as the country with the highest Muslim population in Europe. Driven by their anti-Semitism, Jews are leaving France in large numbers, due to ‘peaceful’ Islamic attacks. However, instead of saying ‘Muslims are shooting in synagogues’, ‘Muslims are killing in schools’, ‘Muslims are raping women’, ‘Muslims are running over pedestrians on streets’… from Paris, to Joué-lès-Tours, to Dijon, to Nantes, somehow even calling these attacks “Islamic terrorism” remains taboo.

Muslim appeasement is now so deeply entrenched even in ‘secular’ France that when the country invited world leaders for the Unity March, French President François Hollande asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to attend the rally as his presence would be ‘divisive’. The Israeli premier still elbowed his way to the front of the 11 January mass solidarity march in Paris.

Netanyahu did the right thing. Freedom of Speech is not relative. It Just Is. If you get offended, take a civilised recourse. But if your religion gets offended and allows you to be trigger-happy, literally by grabbing a Kalashnikov and blowing my head off, you and your religion are both a massive problem, and your religion must reform, and not just cosmetically, before the world begins to trust it.

How? Not by showcasing moderate, liberal or communist Muslims from countries that are not Islamic states, of course. They can speak — frankly or to be politically correct — when the country they are based in is tolerant. Where Muslims are the majority and extremism rules, they either wouldn’t speak or would be killed for speaking. Clearly, their writ does not run in societies where their community dominates.

When people from a religion regularly get up from bed to spill blood in the name of Allah, it is they who create a Muslim stereotype. So don’t blame the world if it’s Islamophobic. It is being said that “Islam is not compatible with democracy“. Plausibly, this message is now commonplace across the non-Muslim world. And it is this message that the Muslim world must try to correct. But what do we find them doing?

The moderates pleaded, “But I’m not a terrorist.” This was the profile picture of many on social media. But the scary part was, while a lot of them condemned the Paris killings, they also justified it. Here is one comment: “Nothing justifies killings, but this is a lesson for those who mock the Prophet.”

A few more, with a “but” in each:

I don’t support killings, but in this case, why did they kill 12, why not 1200?

I reject killings, but why provoke?

Killing is wrong, but (I) understand the geo-political and economic reasons behind it.

I condemn the killings, but the backlash was inevitable.

I condemn the killings, but please understand, these guys are activists.

I condemn these killings, but why did France have to ban Hijab?

I condemn these killings, but when you deliberately offend sentiments then be ready for it. (sic)

In essence, they are saying, ‘It’s not good to kill. But killing is good!’ So come again now, how do you want me to understand your profile picture, which says, “I’m a Muslim. I’m not a Terrorist”? If you condemn terrorism but simultaneously justify it with a “but”, you are complicit in the act of barbarianism.

When comedian Bill Maher lashed out at Islamic militancy saying, “Hundreds of millions of the world’s Muslims are supporting the Paris massacre,” he wasn’t entirely wrong. Support for the terrorists came from every corner of the world. Some Muslims tweeted with the hashtag #JeSuisKouachi to honour the Charlie Hebdo killers. Hundreds of Muslims in Sweden celebrated the Paris terrorist attack on a Facebook page declaring, “Islam will take over the world.” After the killings, a Toronto-based Imam prayed for Muslim victory over non-Muslims. Many Indian Muslims supported the Paris killings on an Indian Muslim forum on Facebook.

Of course, not all Muslims support jihad and the Shari’ah, but many millions do. Muslims in Paris suburbs were worried such conditions could produce more terrorists and warned the world of a ‘backlash’. Instead of weeding out Islamist terrorists, Muslims are threatening the rest of the world with more terror. If the world outside is so intolerable for them, why don’t they move back to the Arab and other Muslim countries they came from?

An Australian Muslim politician described the killings as a “cure” to the daily insults to the Prophet. An Indian Muslim politician announced a reward of Rs 52 crore for the “soldiers of Allah” who avenged the Prophet. Peshawar, which witnessed the brutal killings of 132 children last month, grandly celebrated the killing of the cartoonists. A London-based Muslim cleric said that the cartoon image was “an act of war” that would be punishable by death if judged in a Shari’ah court. French Muslim students refused to participate in schools’ moment of silence for terror victims, showing no sympathy for fellow French citizens—including a Muslim policeman—who were slaughtered by extremist Muslims.

And within the Islamic world, how can Islam be reformed, if nobody is even allowed to discuss it? The minute it is discussed, someone gets uncontrollably ‘offended’, and the next thing you know, you are dead; you may be a Muslim or a non-Muslim. In the last few days, Saudi Arabia ordered 1,000 lashes and 10 years imprisonment for 30 year old Raif Badawi as he dared to discuss the rigid Islamic laws, which is ‘anti-Islam’.

Iran issued a death penalty to Soheil Arabi, a young blogger for putting up a Facebook post that ‘insulted the Prophet’. A Syrian street magician was beheaded by the Islamic State; they denounced the magician’s show as haram (illicit) because it was idle entertainment and kept locals from praying and attending the mosque! Even the local barber shops have been closed down to prevent men cutting their beards.

So, who is making the world Islamophobic with statements and actions — those who follow Islam or those who don’t?