On The Charlie Hebdo Attack: He Doesn't Know
He doesn't know
I have a friend. A Muslim friend. A Muslim journalist friend. He’s quite bamboozled.
When the whole world (read moderate Muslims and non-Muslims, of course) marches ahead in solidarity chanting ‘Je Suis Charlie’, he’s bewildered about making a choice. Who to defend (because he obviously, assertively HAS to defend someone, especially owing to the religion he’s following, right)? His “Allahu Akbar” humming jihadist, fellow religion-mates? Or his pumped-to-incite, vexing “Le Coran c’est de la merde” publishing deceased satirical-journalist counterparts in Paris.
He doesn’t know. He’s exhausted. Exhausted of the defending game. He’s bulleted at from both sides. If he tries to justify that the satire in question is actually quite dismal, he’s a mujahid doing what he can other than killing. If he defends the deceased and their apparent “freedom of speech” rights, he’s a pseudo Islamophile committing a sin, disrespecting the Sunnah, the Prophet, the hadith, the whatnot.
He wishes to be invisible, have an invisibility cloak for once. He doesn’t want to be looked at with the demand of a legit answer to “Why did they do it”. Because how does he know? Because being a Muslim has unfortunately not given him the superpowers of buzzing through the minds of his so-called brothers around the world trotting around with guns and bombs and killing people in the name of the God he follows.
He doesn’t know. But he does feel gutted when he tries to swallow in, comprehend the freedom-of-speeched-satire. He feels appalled and repulsed when he attempts to fathom why Prophet is bent naked with text that says “Une etoile est nee” (a star is born). He wonders how is that satirical or mildly sarcastic/humorous or say slightly intelligent or wait, was it sending out a decrypted message about Islam/Prophet to the world that has probably been veiled since eons? Or could it be just another French thing that the rest of the world fails to grasp? He finds it sexist, lewd, homophobic and racist, yes. He also finds it well, provocative (the used and abused word, yes). He does feel that that fragile, delicate, hardly-there-but-there line has been breached. He feels it is a vapid use of the mightier-than-sword, in-your-face, I-can-offend PEN. He feels that if it were your God, he would have fostered similar feelings. He feels the whole definition of satire, the whole purpose of it is misplaced with these cartoons, which are probably stemming out of xenophobia, particularly towards Islam; intolerance maybe, particularly towards Islam.
He doesn’t know. Does he? Because of all the people in the world, who is he to talk about intolerance? He, a Muslim. When his community is considered the least tolerant community present today. A community composed of brothers and brotherhood, not by bloodlines, but owing to what we call Pan-Islamism. A community that answers more promptly with guns, right? How can they talk about intolerance? He knows this. He doesn’t like it one bit. He believes that the barbarians have booked a place in hell. He also knows that if it was a Hindu or say a Christian or Jewish God with flimsy caricatures plastered in bad taste in any publication, there would be massive debates, bans and enraged protests. But surely not the grotesque carnage that Paris witnessed. He’s sure that no one would be killed. He knows that life is not the price you pay for repugnant satire. He understands that the community he belongs to is more intolerant than others and brutally so. He knows that. He is still gutted.
But he doesn’t know. He doesn’t recognize why a Paris shooting, a Sydney hostage episode or even a Boston bombing garners more empathy from around the world than say the daily misplaced, murdered, raped, shot at, bombed people in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria and even India? Why does everyone rant that he is Charlie and not an Abdul, Raheem maybe? He thinks of xenophobia again. And Islamophobia. He thinks of minorities and alienation. He thinks of discrimination.
He also doesn’t know why. Why this satire is limited to the marginalized, underclass, disintegrated Muslim immigrants in France, why not the French? He doesn’t understand that when Stéphane Charbonnier, Hebdo’s murdered satirical editor, told AP “Mohammad isn’t sacred to me. I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don’t live under Koranic law”, he actually meant “I would take this reason and stomp on obscene levels of licentiousness with my satire to tarnish Islam, the Prophet, the Koran and alienate the Muslim minority in France.” He does understand, though, why French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius once asked "Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?" A statement that makes all the more sense in today’s religion-based turbulence that the world is observing.
But he still doesn’t know. He needs to form an opinion soon to shield himself from the bombardment of disparaging glares and the volley of questions scrutinizing every inch of his religion and every inch of who he is. But he can’t form an opinion. He finds a placid line ruptured by the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo and a more monumental one by his so-called brothers. He doesn’t have ONE ultimate opinion. He wishes to call a spade a spade. He also wants to be able to find that invisibility cloak and not be expected to defend himself, his religion and faith, sitting here, leading as normal a life as you and me and answering WHY. Because he doesn’t know, does he?