|French Police Officer Ahmed Merabet|
1. While I strongly condemn the terror attack and sympathize with the families of those killed at Charlie Hebdo's office, I do not lionize satirists who"punch down" rather than "punch up", to borrow from Daily Beast's Arthur Chu. The whole idea of satire is to challenge those in positions of power and authority rather than the underdogs like the poor French Muslims who make up 60 to 70 percent of the prison population despite being less than 10 percent of the population overall.
2. People who defend Charlie Hebdo as an "equal opportunity offender" are just plain wrong. There was at least one instance where Charlie apologized for a satirical piece and fired Sine (Maurice Sinet) the cartoonist for an "anti-Semitic" caricature of Ms. Sebaoun-Darty, the Jewish wife of President Nicholas Sarkozy's son Jean Sarkozy.
3. France's commitment to civil liberties is selective. While it is strongly invoked as absolute when Charlie mocks Islam and its prophet, it does not extend to Muslim women's right to choose what they wear. The French law against “religious symbols in public spaces” is specifically enforced to target Muslim women who wear hijab.
stereotyping of Prophet Mohammad has been the preoccupation of generations of Western writers from the time of the Crusades to the present day. Among those who have engaged in highly offensive portrayal of Islam's prophet are Italian poet-philosopher Dante Aligheri (1265-1321), Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos (1325-1450) and European "Enlightenment" leader François-Marie Arouet Voltaire (1694-1778). More recently, there have been attempts by Salman Rushdie (Satanic Verses), Kurt Westergaard (Danish Jyllands-Posten cartoons), Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (Innocence of Muslims) and Charlie Hebdo to ridicule Muslims' most revered leader.
While I strongly condemn the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo and the loss of a dozen lives in Paris, let me remind everyone that Europe has a long history of mocking Islam and its prophet. It is well documented in "Muhammad in Europe" by Minou Reeves which covers everything from Dante's Inferno to Voltaire's Mahomet. What has changed now is that the emergence of the new Internet-based social media has made such anti-Muslim bigotry much more commerce-oriented and accessible to a global audience.
As we fight the menace of global terror perpetrated in the name of religion, we must also address the genuine issues of racism and rising anti-Muslim bigotry in Europe. This will require thought leaders on both sides to find common ground for a serious and sustained inter-faith and inter-racial dialog to end the threat of violence.
Here's a video discussion on the subject of terrorism:
Paris Massacre; Kerry-Modi Meeting; TTP's Fazlullah on US Terror List; Anti-Imran Protest from WBT TV on Vimeo.
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