Well….the beast has been reawakened. I’ve decided to bring back my blog which I ignored for quite a while once I arrived in London. I’ve been updating the blog so this post might be a bit behind in the times given our soundbyte society, but I have something to say about it so I shall say it.
I am hard-pressed to find anyone, outside of other extremists, who would agree with the attack. Any civilian attack of terrorism is one rooted in ignorance and cowardice. Attacking a satirical magazine office seems even more ridiculous – especially in a country that prides itself on its in-your-face honest form of satire that has been finely honed and perfected over hundreds of years. In other words – we come to expect it from the French. It’s often brilliant and intelligent.
And I think it’s great that people have rallied behind the Je suis Charlie movement.
But it’s not great that the French response has been so vitriolic in its anti-Arab sentiment. France has a history of Middle Eastern racism (and let’s not forget anti-semitism), so it’s no surprise that people would be attacking Arabs in the country. And the redress balanced by Muslims around the world (see here) isn’t excusable.
But let’s be real. I think the editors knew exactly what they were doing when they followed up the attack with an image of the tearful prophet holding a sign. On the one hand, I think it’s a smart move. They’re not blaming an entire religion and its followers. They could have easily had an imagine of the Prophet being abused. However, they are also aware of the rabid law against depicting images of the Prophet or God. I refuse to believe they did not consider the backlash following that. I refuse to believe that was not an act of baiting as well as forgiveness and remembrance.
BUT – Muslims don’t get an easy pass on this. Many Muslims misunderstand their religion and its tenets much like many Christians do. This rule of no-depicting is not one rooted in ancient traditions. It was tacked on. It has no real basis. There are, in fact, ancient depictions of the Prophet. The ignorant lay is just as guilty as the extremists who don’t bother to actually investigate their own religion.
At the heart of all this is the prevailing problem that much of the Western world pairs Muslim with Arab. That simply is not true. In fact the largest Muslim population is in…Indonesia. And they are Indonesians. Those anti-French attacks linked above? West Africans. To also lump together all Arabs is also folly. Lebanese are not like Yemeni who are not like Bahrainis.
Growing up in Kuwait, as a Christian and Muslim (yeah that was fun), there was no sense of extremism. I would often hear people criticizing those who were of that ilk. ‘They are not Muslims.’ or ‘They are not like us.’ When an attack happens, Muslims/Arabs around the world don’t collectively applaud. In fact, many of them shake their heads because they know their ‘brothers and sisters’ are not acting according to their faith.
If we are able to distinguish between Christians why can’t we do the same for Muslims? There seems to be only one category: Extremist. And this is purely from ignorance and a if-it-bleeds-it-leads media that has some responsibility in educating the public. Whenever Westboro decides to act a fool, there is no global response criticizing all Christians.
And let’s be real here…these attacks don’t stem from religious fervor. They stem from social/cultural unrest that is a direct response to the political/military machinations of Western government whose well-intentioned global concerns are tantamount of modern colonialism/imperialism. And people won’t stand for that anymore. You can’t ‘rescue’ a people then try to impose a government on them and then wash your hands and leave when you’re tired. And you certainly can’t be surprised by the backlash because of it.
Everyone can Je suis… to their hearts content. I think it’s great, I do. Though history shows these kinds of events have the shelf life of a Facebook like. Our (in)tolerance tends to last as long as tweet does. We are people of the moment and not of the long-term. I applaud the world coming together, but I can’t help feeling we would be better off creating a world, people, society, culture where we don’t have to unite for these kinds of events.