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Can We Trust France's 'Freedom' When Hate Cartoons Are OK and Hijabs Are Not?

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Let's call a spade a spade here, shall we? What happened at the offices of Charlie Hebdo last Wednesday was a grotesque act of savagery and murder. What happened at the same offices before the attack in the name of cartoons and satire wasn't anything short of extremely offensive and demeaning either. Demeaning not towards just Islam, but almost all religions of the world and also towards values we as humans uphold.

After the attack there was a natural outpouring of sympathy on social media for the victims of this attack and against the religion of Islam with hashtags and cries ranging from the immediate need for immigration reforms in Europe to outright #killallmuslims. Most people from Pakistan jumped on the reactionary bandwagon on either side and cried either for censorship of such speech or waxing lyrical over how "Charlie Hebdo" was the paragon of free speech and a French institution with a luminous and glorious history.

The point I am trying to make is twofold.

Firstly, there is no sane reason for killing anyone over a cartoon or a satirical piece and I am not going to interject this statement with a yet or a but either. Even if examined under Shariah law, the "state" is supposed to give due punishment for crimes and not "individuals."

However, what constitutes free speech in the world of Charlie Hebdo needs to be examined as well before we start banging the drum for the imminent war of civilizations or the "us vs. them" narrative all over the world. Charlie Hebdo was responsible for cartoons which were sexist, misogynist, demeaning and would meet the demands of any hate speech standard in our world.

The question I'm asking is: Why are we supposed to adhere to the French standard for satire, or support it? I say this because I find cartoons making fun of Islam just as demeaning as those making fun of Lord Ganesh or Buddha or Jesus Christ. We can blare the trumpets of free speech all we want but the fact of the matter is that although we do not adhere to the same systems of morality all over this world, we all do believe in a commonality of what is within the bounds of reason. Tomorrow, if someone started distributing child porn and called it his protest for free speech or his method of pushing our boundaries, at least I wouldn't stand for it. Would you? Hence I will never say #JeSuisCharlie.

Secondly, 37 people were just killed in a terrorist attack in Yemen last week to little or no coverage by the international media -- primarily because that attack does not feature in the "us vs. them" narrative. Same with the Peshawar attack on school children, although in the case of the Peshawar attack the citizens of the world did unite with us for a few days at least contrary to their media.

Nobody wants to believe that Muslims are the target of these terrorists more than any other race or religion in the world. We have the numbers to prove it, and yet we are somehow supposed to feel guilty for their attacks? Who in the West feels guilty for that grand operation in Iraq, I ask? And that too by their military -- not just a rogue terrorist group.

We as a world need to understand and question exactly how a country's barometer for "freedom" is fair when the right of a Muslim woman to wear hijab is not sacrosanct but the publishing of hate cartoons is? Where anti-Semitism is a crime but anti-Muslim is not? I think France needs to examine closely what constitutes "freedom" for them or whether their intensity for secularism both historically and now is even at pace with the existing population of more than five million of their own Muslim residents or their rights.

As for apologizing for Al Qaeda or ISIS or any other nutso group that has got it in their mind to start or attempt any other barbaric attacks -- this savage is all out of apology for others' insanity.

#againstallterrorism #withallhumanity

This post first appeared here.


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