On January 7, 2015 there took place the tragic terrorist attack in France popularly known as “Charlie Hebdo shooting.” The victims were the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Many were killed while some of them were badly injured. The reason behind this attack was that this particular newspaper insulted Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) [the holy prophet for Muslims] by depicting various cartoons and caricatures of him. In the name of “Freedom of Speech”, they made a mockery of the prophet. In Islam any sort of depiction of the prophet in any form is strictly prohibited. As for the Muslims, since their religion plays a very important role in their lives, insulting the prophet is a sensitive issue for them. We can not deny the fact that in today’s world religion is “THE MOST SENSITIVE ISSUE”
But like everyone else, even I strongly condemn the terrorist attack. That should not have happened no matter what. There are people with various opinions and mindsets. We can not have everyone think alike and agree on the same thing. It’s high time that it should be realized. It is also saddening that these terrorists are doing these acts in the name of a religion and defaming it at the same time. What these terrorists are doing is surely not in accordance with what Islam says or simply they are unislamic. A lot of people have openly supported the attack saying that they would not tolerate any such insult of the prophet even if that costs their lives. Does that sound practical? I think Muslims should think a bit more practically keeping aside their emotional outburst. Like I said before, we are residing in a cosmopolitan society with people of different mindsets and you will come across such Charlie Hebdos and similar on a regular basis. Is it feasible that you would kill each and everyone you come across insulting the religion or the prophet? In a mixed group of friends or in the office, if a person speaks against your religion, you would go and strike him down? While in public, you may again hear someone speaking something against Islam, you leave all your work to slay that person and then get imprisoned. Is it really something one would do if thought practically? In my opinion, killing someone because of this is never a solution. If you think that would change the mindset of the people and they would start thinking great about ISLAM, then you are wrong. In fact it is going against the religion. Knowingly or unknowingly, the damage the person is doing will take a lot of time to cure. People will start despising the religion more and more because of his act.
If you really care a bit about your religion, then you should refrain from all violent acts at any cost because ISLAM talks explicitly about non-violence. And if you continue doing these acts in the name of religion, it simply means you do not care about the already defamed religion. There are no two ways about it. Well, that does not mean that I am approving of the acts done by Charlie Hebdo. What they have done can not be forgiven. But then there are other ways of disapproving them apart from violence.
Coming to the point of insulting the prophet by the newspaper, most countries have guaranteed its citizens “freedom of speech and expression” without any limitation which is a basic tenet of democracy. It shows a progressive mindset. I support the fact that democracy can not work properly without freedom of speech and expression. But when a person/media is accessing his freedom, he should know that with this freedom he also has certain responsibilities as to how to use his freedom. It can not be used in such a way that it might hurt a group of individuals or a community or it is targeting any particular sect of people unnecessarily or it defames and harasses a person. He has to use his mind before using his freedom. Saying that, it is a known fact that for Muslims, their prophet (peace be upon him) is a sacred thing for them and they are very sensitive about it. How could a newspaper be so ignorant about it and go on to publishing insulting content about him? For a lot of people in the West, their religion does not matter to them much but it does not mean everyone would have the same thought about the religion. Many people around the world are particularly very serious regarding their religion. Should it not be respected and considered a duty of the press to ensure that their sentiments are not hurt?
Sentiments and emotions vary from person to person. Most of us would not hear anything against our family, friends or close ones. Many of us would not condone anything against our country, city etc. Similarly, Muslims can simply not tolerate anything spoken against their religion. What is wrong in being protective towards ones religion? They are proud of their religion and consider it an integral part of their life and hence this love and respect for the religion. It’s not just Muslims but i believe that any attack on any religion should not be accepted. It’s good to have freedom of speech but then it is equally important to draw a line to it.
Following the incident, we witnessed thousands of people speaking up against the attack with the hashtag “Iamcharlie”. Even I am against the attack but that simply does not mean I would accept how the newspaper has insulted the religion. So I would criticize the attack without using the hashtag because the hashtag somewhere means that they are supporting the acts of the newspaper. It is high time that people should introspect their actions before it is too late. They should not do anything which would give pain to someone along with whom they are living in the same society, be it the newspaper or the terrorist.