I think an intro about the Charlie Hebdo is pretty moot at this point. The attack of Muslim extremists on the French satirical paper has rattled the world, and has dragged the topic of Freedom of Speech kicking and screaming out into the daylight. But the real fallout here will be on how this affects Muslims in Europe and around the world.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the number of times #jesuisAhmed gets retweeted is going to do much to stem the tide of anti-Muslim bigotry that’s been occurring—and which doesn’t show signs of letting up. France is already notoriously racist towards Muslims, and so expect the map of anti-Muslim attacks to start filling in more and more. And that’s not to mention other European nations, where the general public opinion seems to be “they’re not attacking us… yet.”
So what’s a Muslim to do about it?
There seems to be a push for Muslims to take responsibility for the actions of these terrorists and apologize on their behalf, just because they’re following Islam and claim to be acting in the name of Islam. While we’re at it, let’s also make every American apologize for Hiroshima, every Catholic for the Spanish Inquisition, every Buddhist for the 969 movement (which actively targets Muslims), and every Discovery Channel employee for Eaten Alive.The group shouldn’t have to apologize for the atrocities of an individual; the village shouldn’t have to apologize for the idiot.
So as much as Rupert Murdoch and others want it, I’m not going to apologize for the actions of Muslim terrorists. I’m not going to apologize because my faith stands for something greater than the people who pervert it. 1.6 billion people can back me up on that. I also don’t feel that I need to suddenly support #JeSuisCharlie out of sympathy or as some means of atonement or just because its trending on Twitter.
And for the record, yes, I still consider those terrorists Muslims. They may be stupid, arrogant, violent, misguided, and all other kinds of adjectives I can throw at them, but at the end of the day it’s not for me or anyone else to judge their faith, however erroneous or distorted it may be. What they did was violent, stupid and atrocious; and while they did it in the name of Islam, it was not Islamic. In the end, the results of their actions are up to God. The only things they achieved were:
- the death of 12 people, one of whom was a Muslim
- increased hatred for Islam around the world
- increased bigotry against Muslims, especially in France
- increased backlash against Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him
- furthering the stereotype that Islam is a radical religion
So good job, guys. Way to represent.
I could recycle the old slogans of “terrorism has no religion” or “this isn’t what Islam is”, but to be frank at this point everyone’s heard it before. Islam is no longer some fringe religion that exists on the boundaries of media attention and public consciousness. Islam—and by extension, Muslims—are part of our daily newsfeed. The fault line is Islam. So really, at this point you can fire out all the press releases and pamphlets you want—most people have heard the old slogans and have already decided which side of the fault they stand on.
If you haven’t noticed, every time there is a Muslim attack, people of all creeds rally either to or against Muslims. For instance, in Germany, the Cologne Cathedral turned out its lights in defiance of an anti-Islam protest. And let’s not even mention the divide between countries that recognize Palestine as a state, and those who don’t. As Muslim populations grow, as Muslim affairs (like Syria) become world affairs (and vice versa) the fault line will continue to build pressure. Don’t be surprised if one’s position on Muslims and Islam—regardless of one’s own belief—will in the future be as weighty as if one is a Democrat or Republican. Not regarding if you consider Islam correct as a religion, but rather all of the issues attached to it that affect public perception: nationalism, immigration, minority rights, women’s rights, even dietary law. I’m not one to be alarmist, but that fault line has been building up pressure from both sides since 9/11. People have been taking their stance, and on both sides there exist the peaceful and the enraged.
And who knows who is going to break that fault line, and what the result will be.