If you were to walk down the street on an average day - you know, bird are singing, sun is shining and everyone is just minding their own business; that sort of thing - when suddenly a man prances around everyone calling them the racist n-word with a big smile on his face: (leaving aside the authorities) What do you think would happen to him? Taking note that this hypothetical racist man is sane, stable, adult, sober, clean of drugs, etc. and completely serious.
How would he be treated, how would the people around him react?
For those of you who've lived in a similar-ish place to me, north or east London (and other parts, sure) - you know exactly what might happen to him. And believe me, people won't just ignore him and wish for him to go away.
But if he argues that it's his right in the name of liberty and freedom to say what he likes and to offend who or what he likes - is his claim valid and legitimate?
By now, some of you might have guessed what this is about. Now, I am merely expressing my opinion on a single factor of the Charlie Hebdo incident and not on the incident as a whole. Naturally, I do feel saddened by any innocents killed in the attack and I don't necessarily agree with the attack itself because of what I'm about to say. I just wanted to make this clear before I get started - in case I offend anyone. And if I still do, I apologise for it in advance - it is and will never be my intention to offend.
Now to look at it from a historical point of view: every era has had its scapegoat - and that's a matter of solid fact. Every era, every empire, dynasty, what have you - has a selected minority to point at for all the silly things that go wrong. In some portion of the Ancient Roman era, it was Christians that were thrown to the lions and such. Romans and Anglo-Saxons alike targeted the Scots or Picts and the Welsh. Throughout most of the Dark Ages in Europe, it was the Jews (anyone recall Shylock from Shakespeare's A Merchant of Venice? Hitler's genocide wasn't the first against people of a Jewish race/faith). Speaking of Hitler, he had many scapegoats - homosexuals, prostitutes, Slavs, gypsies, recurring criminal and drunkards, people with physical or mental disabilities and, of course, people of a Jewish faith or race.
Having said all of that, I feel the scapegoats of the current, post-modern era are Muslims.
And I don't know if it means much coming from someone of a Muslim faith and background - but it's my honest opinion. But it's not just a blind shot in the dark, I have my reasons to believe this.
Since the September 11th 2001, I feel like my religion has had a target painted on its back and its been shot at almost constantly thereafter. But, to stay on topic for a moment, let's talk about Charlie Hebdo. It's prohibited to be racist, it's prohibited to be homophobic, it's prohibited to be discriminative to a person because they have a disability - which is all fine and I completely agree with, this being a so-called "free society" and all - but discrimination against Islam, isn't? Slander against possibly the greatest man to ever walk the face of this world, isn't? It's so non-prohibited and acceptable that some people might go to the length of saying that it's a "limitation on the freedom of expression" to prohibit islamophobia?
And this isn't the first time that offensive cartoons have been drawn of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The first incident was one that happened in Denmark - and all things considered, most of us protested against it in a fairly peaceful manner: we boycotted all Danish products. I don't know if it had any effect, but that's what I recall most Muslims did. Then a couple of years back, Facebook held a Draw Muhammad Day - which caused countries like Saudi Arabia to ban the site. Then there was a disgustingly offensive movie about the Prophet Muhammad put up on YouTube - can't remember who it was filmed by and I don't want to - and I think an ambassador died in one of the Gulf Countries because of it.
There have been others that I can't really recall off the top of my head, but you get the picture.
The attacks on Charlie Hebdo weren't a random, out-of-the-blue, "kill-all-kaffirs" attack - it was a reaction to insighted hatred and discrimination. Now, I'm not saying it's right, but enough is enough. Stop hating on us. We don't like it, so don't do it. What is so hard about that? And Charlie Hebdo claims to be offensive towards all religions and cultures (because apparently its okay to be offensive, if you're impartially offensive?) but fired one of their workers for being anti-Semetic.
It's true what they say - if you can't learn from history, you are bound to repeat it.
In recent history, we can see what happens when you don't take a problem seriously. Suffragists became suffragettes, peaceful Black protesters became Black Panthers. What has every single Muslim in the world today collectively done to deserve the kind of discrimination they currently receive? What kind of discrimination?
I'll share a very few examples:
•The Niqab or Burka is banned in France and Belgium. The subject of banning the Burka in the UK had been brought up twice in the past, from my memory, and it will most likely be brought up again after the supermarket attack following the Charlie Hebdo attack. Additionally, The hijab - a mandatory head-covering for all Muslim woman who come of age - is banned in public schools in France and Turkey. The hijab is publically banned in Tunisia.
•Minarets are banned in Switzerland. Minarets. Go figure.
•Search 'Quran Ban' in Google and just look at the list of countries that have tried and some have succeeded. In fact, the Telegraph reported that a Dutch MP said that the Quran should be ban like Mein Kampf. And, for those you who are unfamiliar, Mein Kampf is the autobiography of Adolf Hitler. You're referring to the religious book of the world's second largest religion (possibly even largest now, roughly 20% of the global population are Muslim) and your placing it on the same pedestal of the work of recent history's biggest homicide? If that isn't hint enough, I honestly don't know what is.
•Anjum "Andy" Choudary - the most exemplary Muslim according to Fox News. Some raving lunatic that talks constant nonsense, burns poppies and marches chanting that alcohol is haraam (prohibited). I don't know what ends he wants to meet, or what his agenda is, but this man should not be the face of Islam. If you want to know about a religion, you go to someone like a scholar or a speaker, right? Why would you question this random psuedo-Muslim and ban a world-renowned speaker on Islam entering the country? Dr Zakir Naik was denied entry into the UK by Theresa May, the Home Secretary at the time - even though, if you ask me, he's the best person you could go to, to learn about Islam!
•The very existence of the EDL in the UK. Just... Why? They're basically the KKK, but against Muslims. The UK placed a ban on a political party called the Muslim Crusaders or Islamic Crusaders, but the EDL is allowed to continue as they are.
Now, I'm not done, but I think you can get an idea of what I'm talking about. Yes, there have been terror attacks - 9/11, 7/7, etc. - done (according to the general media) by Muslims, but does that give the whole world leave to punish all of us for it? If that was the case then what about Christian terrorists like the IRA and KKK? What about Hindu terrorists like the Tamil Tigers? What about the Maoists? What about the genocide against Palestinians in Israel and the Rohingas in Burma? What about the very institution of Guantanamo Bay? - which I very clearly recall President Obama assuring us that he would dismantle when he first ran for president. What about the Collateral Damage clip that was posted by WikiLeaks?
Does any of this ring a bell, at all?
You cannot blame an entire religious community because of atrocities committed in that religion's name - which, by the way, probably have more political motives than religious. If that was applicable, I think Christianity would have to answer for about eleven different Crusades!
To conclude, the term "freedom" is far too loosely used. The Freedom to Express does not and should not allow the freedom to offend and discriminate. I mean, Mario Ballotelli got fined a few weeks ago for making a racist/anti-Semetic joke on a social network. Fined. Why then is it that islamophobia is not only accepted but encouraged?