As France faces up to a day of mourning in the wake of the 12 individuals so callously killed in the apparent defence of the Prophet Mohammed, the two brothers suspected of committing the heinous executions are still on the run somewhere in France.
The two, Cherif and Said Kouachi, are said to be armed and dangerous, and apparently received Taliban training in Yemen during the last five years. They, like so many within the Muslim world, took apparent exception to the Mohammed-based satire of the historically engaging and close-to–the-bone publication, Charlie Hebdo. As a result, they broke into the Paris offices of the magazine and executed selected staff members and two policemen – one of which was graphically viewed around the world on a smart phone-captured video as he begged to be spared.
A number of cartoons have appeared in the magazine over the last few years depicting the Prophet in a variety of comical and apparently offensive situations. Threats had been made towards the staff of the magazine by fanatical followers of the religion for years, yet they defiantly continued to mock areas of Islam – as well as other religions, politicians and celebrities.
Freedom of Speech & Expression?
Within mainland Europe, freedom of speech is something which is cherished, and whether one agrees or disagrees with the point of view, it is always heard and very rarely are there murders as the result of a viewpoint.
In Britain there is a much sterner view of speaking out against Islam, mainly driven by the fear of an event such as the one witnessed in Paris yesterday. Admittedly, the cowardly act of attacking unarmed journalists is something that every country in Europe could do without, and stronger censorship similar to that witnessed in the UK cold have prevented such a tragedy, but why should one religion be responsible for censoring anybody with an alternative viewpoint? The answer seems to be something far graver than anybody could imagine: the very real threat of mass genocide across Europe. These acts were widely viewed as being something reserved for daily occurrence in the Middle East, but the problem continues to grow in the Western world, and it is difficult to see any kind of solution. So long as Sharia Law is denied in the democracy-driven west, it is feared that there will always be a problem.
Islam has never exactly been fashionable or even accepted as a concept by the majority of the 5.5 billion people globally who choose to believe in something other than the Prophet, and it is a shame that events such as this will undoubtedly continue to provoke vigilante action against – and a deepening hatred of – those that openly and innocently practice the religion in areas which are traditionally more open to other ideologies.
When all is said and done, there are those whose views of events of this nature sum things up quite appropriately, and yesterday, esteemed wordsmith Salman Rushdie released a statement which very much puts things into perspective following these terrible events:
Salman Rushdie Statement
“Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”