As a proud Canadian Muslim woman it saddens me to hear of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. It was a despicable and heinous act of murder committed by violent individuals. As a journalist, I believe these murders go against the very freedom of the press that I hold sacred. Few things are more sacred to a journalist than the power of the written word, life being one of them.
There are approximately two billion peace loving, practicing, law-abiding Muslims on this earth. The actions of these three violent, mentally deranged human beings do not represent my faith. Islam does not teach that a cartoon is more important than human life. Making these despicable acts representative in any way of Islam or Muslims in general makes about as much sense as to state that the Westboro Baptist Church represents the entire faith of Christianity. The acts of individuals cannot be equated with the teachings, tenets or practices of an entire faith, yet time and time again we see this as being the case with Islam.
Lives were lost in a tragic manner. Journalists were killed for practicing their profession in the way that they best saw fit. Do I agree with what they were drawing? No. But the fact is that does not matter. There are things that are published that I do not agree with. The same way that there are people out there who will not like what I have to say. It's important to accept each other's differences and be respectful. At the same time, however, it is important to not go and insult those that a faith or nation holds sacred. What kind of society and world are we creating for our children and for future generations?
It is imperative to understand and consider the ramifications of these heinous actions of three individuals on the five million muslims living in France and almost two billion peace-loving, law abiding Muslims around the world. There have already been instances of firebombing of mosques reported in France, not to mention the further marginalization of Muslims in France.
The 42-year-old police officer Ahmed Merabet gunned down outside of the offices of Charlie Hebdo was himself a Muslim. It's important to keep things in context. He paid the ultimate price to serve and protect the people of France and specifically those that were poking fun at his faith. He died defending their right to do so.
Too often social media is used as a means of propagating ill-informed, stereotyped-fuelled generalizations of entire faiths, communities and people. We have the power to stop this. The fact that #KillAllMuslims was trending on Twitter is a prime example of this. A few weeks ago Germany held anti-Islam rallies with upwards of 20,000 attendees. Each and every one of us possess the power to stop hatred and replace it with understanding, acceptance and patience.
When an incident of this nature occurs, the vast majority of Muslims the world over are saddened and share the shock felt the world over, however our desire to mourn those who are lost is all too often replaced with a sense of obligation to denounce the acts done in the name of our faith.
Few things are more despicable than the actions of these murderous individuals. Their actions are to be unequivocally condemned. However, to use an instance where 12 lives were extinguished in order to create momentum for furthering hate is not only ill-advised and insensitive -- it is disgusting and ill-placed.
This is not the time to go and inflame an already sensitive issue. Families are mourning their deceased loved ones. Let's focus instead on respecting the lives lost and not on continuing to spread hatred.
Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed is a journalist, blogger and editor of CanadianMomEh.com, an online parenting and lifestyle magazine celebrating diversity.
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