Offensive cartoons of Prophet Muhammad have been published, republished and projected on government buildings in France. Prophet Muhammad captures the imagination, belief system and rapturous devotion of about 1.8 billion people in the world, even after 1,400 years of his existence. And those 1.8 billion people are expected to not get offended by vulgar depictions of the prophet because it apparently is ‘freedom of expression’. Is bullying freedom of expression too? Is pornographic content freedom of expression too? Is substance abuse freedom of expression too?
Charlie Hebdo-published caricatures of Prophet Muhammad and French President Emmanuel Macron’s endorsement of them have sparked protests all over the Muslim world. While the rest of the world says ‘the cartoons espouse freedom of expression’, Muslims are unequivocally denouncing this twisted version of freedom of expression where a deliberate attempt is being made to insult the Prophet for no reason whatsoever.
Did Prophet Muhammad ask the 18-year-old Chechen-origin Abdoullakh Anzorov to behead 47-year-old Samuel Paty, a teacher? No. Did he form Al-Qaeda? No. Was he flying the 9/11 planes? No. Did he hijack IC 814? No. Then why insult the Prophet? It is completely unnecessary and unprovoked. I am one of those Muslims who unequivocally protest against these cartoons and Macron for propagating such Islamophobic content.
The ‘crusade’ against Islam
When the two planes crashed into the World Trade Center twin towers on 11 September 2001, or 9/11 as it is known, it also crashed the old civilisational wars over land and economic sanctions and ushered the age of wars based on religious ideology. I personally felt ashamed for being a Muslim because the men who had carried out these attacks had done it in the name of Islam. That’s another thing that they had gone to a bar to drink a round of beers before crashing the planes in the “name of Islam”.
The modern-day version of the crusades was back. And although the concept of terrorism existed long before terrorist outfits such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Ku Klux Klan (KKK), Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), etc. entered the scene, nothing caught the fascination of people like “Islamic terrorism”.
For the last 19 years, the world has been fixated on Islam and is busy debating how, according to popular opinion, the terrorism ushered by Islamic tenets are a menace to society.
But in these last 19 years, many Muslims, including myself, refuse to accept these “Islamic” acts of terrorism as belonging to us — as a community — or the religion we follow. And we refuse to be apologetic or responsible about it anymore. How a madman interprets the Quran does not make either the Muslim community as a whole or the religion we follow responsible for the act. If an obsessive lover kills for the “sake of love”, you don’t brand love to be in “crisis”, even though people have been killing in the name of love for centuries.
But Macron thinks otherwise
Today, France is front and centre in discussing Islamic terrorism thanks to its President who, at Samuel Paty’s funeral, spoke about Islam being “in crisis all over the world”. Paty was beheaded by Anzorov for showing to his students offensive cartoons of Prophet Muhammad published by Charlie Hebdo, which had unleashed terrorist attacks in France in 2015.
Macron spoke about how France will continue to make cartoons to stand strong on its values of liberty. And to really drive the point home, the offensive cartoons on Prophet Muhammad were projected on all government buildings in France.
If this isn’t bullying and deliberately provoking an entire community, I don’t know what is. Macron’s petty retaliation has sparked protests all over the world by Muslims who are utterly disgusted by the government of a liberal nation resorting to insulting a religion. Islam and the Muslim community as a whole have nothing to do with the beheading.
But whenever Muslims say this, verses from the Holy Quran are regurgitated by angry Islamophobes who call Islam a barbaric desert cult. It doesn’t matter to the haters that those verses have a context. They will have none of it.
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