#JeSuisAhmed: The World That Fears Muslims

Ahmed Merabet Charlie Hebdo Terrorism Kouachi brothers

A couple of days ago, I decided that my reaction to the Charlie Hebdo attack would be to share the covers that had those journalists killed. I didn’t say whether I agreed with their content because that wasn’t the point at the time, and freedom of speech, to me, was absolute, with satire at its heart, as it aims to reconcile reason with power. Enforcing limitations puts us on a slippery slope until Paris on January 7th becomes conceivable. The world isn’t where it is today because visionaries cowered from challenging their dogmas.

In today’s world, however, freedom of speech is a reflection of the hypocritical scope with which we view things. In this relative specter, even satire becomes cruel when it’s aimed at the weak who aren’t allowed to answer back. Two days after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, this is our chance to sit down and talk.

Everyone’s up in flames over how Muslims aren’t condemning the Charlie Hebdo attacks enough. Over how they haven’t condemned ISIS enough. Over how they aren’t condemning themselves enough. Well, they have over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.

Where have you been throughout all of this? Thinking Muslim was a member of a small village of 1.57 billion where everyone’s alike: a terrorist, a pest, an apostate to modern values in need of serious reconsideration of his religious views. But never a person who could be a victim and who is, in fact, innocent  – at least until proven guilty.

And then you call them off when they actually do what you’re asking of them.

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The victims of every attack carried out by extremists are not just those who died and whose memory perseveres in us, the media and then, when the calamity subsides, every bigot who uses their name to propagate their own version of extremism that is as toxic, but less deadly, perched on top of podiums, preaching about liberties while advocating for many to be denied of them.

The victims of the Paris attacks are that Muslim, whose kebab shop and Mosque were burned, who had absolutely nothing to do with the attack except in some amalgamation of Ahmad and terrorist.

They’re that Muslim who was afraid of going to the vigils to honor the dead of a publication that offended again and again, who was petrified at how people would view her hijab or his beard now, terrified at what it would mean to be on January 8th, 2015.

They’re that Muslim who watched in horror as the news of Paris unfolded, who gasped at the video showing the Muslim cop Ahmed Merabet being shot to death, told his children to go into their room to prevent them from seeing what he was seeing on TV and is worried daily at the poison they’re getting exposed to.

They’re the Muslim who has nothing to do with France but is told he is responsible for the actions of some French Muslims. They’re your Muslim friend at whom you looked with different sight today.

They’re that Muslim that is slowly being driven over the edge and who will come to endorse – nay, want to participate – one day in actions like those that took place in Paris yesterday.

They’re that foreign student who is now worried about what this means to his future. They’re that person trying to seek a better life for his family, whose chances are now completely in tatters.

What we demand of every single one of those Muslims is to condemn, apologize, and shout from every minaret how they are against what some of their lot are doing today, because if they don’t, then they are terrorists too.

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Defending free speech by telling someone exactly what to say. Isn’t that ironic given that whole shenanigan involving sin and first stone to be cast?

In today’s world, I – born Christian, now who cares – am never lumped with the Christians who have caused two world wars, a holocaust, several other wars, the endless support for the state of Israel and the massacre of Palestinians, the endless encroachment over the riches of Africa, the rise of Neo-Nazi parties across Europe and the many attacks they have been committed in my name.

I am never asked to condemn en masse those protests in Germany where it was called for the expulsion of impure breeds, whose religion is not original to Europe – ironic as that is – and whose skin color is not as fair.

I am also never faced with existential questions about Christianity when those Neo-Nazis kill for their brand of extremism, as has happened in Norway in 2011, an assault which ended the life of 77 people.

I am never asked to apologize for Aurora, Sandy Hook Elementary, to assess Christianity’s potential for the modern world after the 1 million in Iraq that died, because of a war that is there to defend my freedom, my rights, my security, my Jesus-given right for oil.

I am never considered as violent for contributing to the instability of Pakistan and leading to the loss of 140+ of its children in Peshawar. Those are just Muslims killing other Muslims.

Jews are never faced with retribution for their continuous slaughter of Palestinians, the last of which was in Gaza this past summer, where 600 Palestinian children died. They are never asked to apologize for their constant rape of Palestinian land, for never-ending settlements, for their constant erosion of the rights of the people with whom they are forcibly sharing the land.

In today’s world, that same Muslim we are more than willing to burn at the stake is never allowed to be offended or else he’s deemed an extremist as the world-given badge of modernity gets taken away.

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Meanwhile, holocaust portrayals can cause uproars; Charlie Hebdo in 2009 fired and had that same artist sued for hate speech for drawing a Jewish caricature of Sarkozy, and even Christians are allowed to be offended by portrayals of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

We think so little of the world’s Muslims that their deaths are a natural event, never worth a discussion. We think so low of them that we believe it’s unfathomable for them to comprehend our cherished values of freedom, democracy, and autonomy, despite those concepts – in the same context of worldwide hypocrisy – being relative: only given to those who can afford them, to those powerful enough to claim them.

How can we explain, for instance, to the Muslim Palestinian in Gaza what human rights are or what freedom is, while that same Palestinian is genuinly expected to wholly understand how it is to be a French free man in France?

How can we explain to the Muslim women of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf that they can do whatever they want with their bodies when their own governments that keep on oppressing them are maintained by the same countries where women are, in theory, liberated, open, sexual, and can drive?

How can we explain to that Saudi blogger who is now facing 10 years in jail and 1000 lashes for speaking up what freedom of speech actually means?

How can we explain what freedom is to Muslims living in dictatorships, under systems that are kept there by the same countries demanding of those same Muslims to be free and worldly and Western?

We are so blinded by prejudice and hate that we can’t see who actually benefits from the attacks in Paris on January 7th.

Those are people like Marine Le Pen, who doesn’t see how the construct of modern French society has a lot to do with why January 7th happened, whose message of hate will now resonate clearer in the minds of the French and who will spear-head a regression of the theoretical values of the French state. She has already started sharpening her harpoon.

They’re people like the far-right in every corner of the world whose flags might as well be those of ISIS with inverted colors. They’re people like Netenyahu whose own brand of terrorism is never labeled as such and who will use the attacks in Paris to further advocate for the need of escalation in his terror.

They’re heads of nations like Qatar and Saudi Arabia who proclaim moderation for the world to be fooled, and spread hatred wherever they go, as they buy their way to a majority share in the European continent.

Imagine for a moment that this had been a parallel world, where we are an impoverished minority, whose countries are taken up for their natural resources, whose heads are so blinded by wealth and power they can’t see themselves being manipulated, whose poor are among the poorest of the world, whose children die of famine and war, whose lives are not judged in absolute value, whose lands are a matter of debate, whose opinions are not free, would we be asked to condemn too?

I do not understand Islam nor do I pretend to do so. I don’t know what true Islam is, the same way I don’t know what true Christianity or true Judaism are, and I don’t believe anyone truly knows – all three remain ideological constructs that are open to interpretation within frames that are entirely individualistic. Hence,  I cannot defend religions as a dogma nor am I doing so.

We say that we can root out Muslim extremism by force: by forcing them to be apologetic, by forcing ourselves over their homes, by launching missiles, armies, and rockets. That is not the case. The only way to weed out the Islamists, extremists and terrorists is to empower those Muslims who are being killed by those same extremists when they speak up, whose voices are being silenced by the mainstream voices around the world that refuse to listen, and who are not allowed to fill the vacuum in their reputation as it’s slowly eaten away by the mole in their midst. We empower them by listening, by not taking away the stability in their countries, by not making sure their countries, communities and societies never amount to anything, and by not believing the cause of their hardship is the religion they worship.

There are three ways this can deconstruct. We can either maintain things as they are, ignore any lesson Paris is trying to teach us, and carry on. We can make things worse, lump 1.57 billion Muslim with ISIS, Al Qaeda, or Taliban and assume that they’re all out there to assassinate freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Or you can ignore the hate speech, tell that terrified Muslim that there’s someone who gets it, doesn’t require him to condemn, doesn’t attribute 1.57 billions to the actions of one and understands that the actions of that one are more related to societal constructs than to religion, who knows that he too has autonomy, and needs freedom, and seeks a better life for his children, and that praying while looking at Mecca and kneeling down is essentially the same as looking at an altar and standing up, and that this world is very cruel to anyone who is different from the norms, and that it is okay to be angry and not to be okay with how things are, that you should be Charlie, and Ahmed and all shades in between, and that it is okay to be a human who just happens to be Muslim.

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The Charlie Hebdo Covers The Terrorists Don’t Want You To See

This is to those who think honor is killing someone who offends you.

This is to those who think killing someone who expresses his basic freedom of speech can be rationalized, those people who are the worst kinds of the kinds, the people who are even more dangerous than the terrorists who actually kill.

This is to those whose skin is so paper-thin a joke proves to be too much for them to handle.

This is to those who think their religion tells them they should kill, who think they have the right to take a human life.

Because no one should die for drawing a picture,

Because no one should die for writing a page,

Because no one should die for freedom of expression.

We may be used to death and horror where we live, but that’s no excuse not to feel disgusted and horrified at what happened in Paris today.

Because the best thing we can do now is to express ourselves unlimitedly, and because publications in my country may prove to be too cowardly to publish these, I present the many covers that got narrow-minded bigoted cunts to kill 12 innocent souls in France today.

From Beirut, this is Charlie Hebdo.

1 – Mahomet Débordé (2006):

Mahomet Deborde - 2006In 2006, following the uproar over the Danish caricature of the Prophet Mohammad, Charlie Hebdo republished the pictures in an issue, to the outcry of many, and to the lawsuits of others.

2 – Oui A La Burqa (2010):

Oui A La Burqa - 2010

Following the ban of the Burqa in France in 2010, Charlie Hebdo came out in support of the decision. In case people thought their title of this issue was open to interpretation, they illustrated it very clearly.

3 – Charia Hebdo (2011):

Charia Hebdo - 2011

In November 2011, to “celebrate” the victory of the Islamists in Tunisian elections, Charlie Hebdo renamed their issue to “Charia Hebdo”, a play on the French world for “Sharia,” and featured the Prophet Mohammad as a guest editor. A molotov cocktail was subsequently thrown into their offices, destroying everything, and their website was hacked to only show the phrase: “There is no God but Allah.”

4 – Intouchables 2 (2012)

charlie-hebdo-anti islam Muhammad cover

 

In 2012, following the release of “The Innocence of Muslims,” Charlie Hebdo released this spin over the then-widely popular French movie “Intouchables.” The issue also had several caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in various compromising positions. Needless to say, threats against them and against many French embassies rose to stratospheric heights. As a result, French embassies and cultural centers in many countries were forced to close.

5 – Le Coran C’est De La Merde (2013):

Le Coran C'est de la Merde - 2013

 

In 2013, to comment on the crackdown on Islamists in Egypt, Charlie Hebdo wrote an issue in which they made fun of those Islamists for finding the Quran not to be as “bullet-proof” as they once thought.

6 – Si Mahomet Revenait (2014):

Si Mahomet Revenait - 2014In October 2014, to comment on the rise of ISIS and their video-taped public executions of many foreigners and locals alike, Charlie Hebdo published a cover depicting what most people around the world know about the terrorists: that they have nothing to do with Islam. Of course, everyone knows this but the terrorists themselves.

7 – En 2022, Je Fais Ramadan (2015):

En 2022, Je Fais Ramadan - 2015

 

To comment on the rise of Islam in France, Charlie Hebdo’s first issue of 2015 was a satire on how come year 2022, France will start observing Ramadan as a regularity. I suppose this didn’t such very well with some of the masses.

To those who think the publication is also only anti-Muslim, here are two covers that are anti-Christian:

May all the artists and visionaries at Charlie Hebdo who lost their lives today rest in peace. The world will remember them forevermore as the brave people who drew their pen to those who drew a weapon at them. And there’s no better memory to leave to an unjust world like ours today.

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On Those Raging Muslims

I love Charlie Hebdo. How can you not love Charlie Hebdo. He hits the nail on its head so brilliantly and he makes it look so effortlessly funny. Oh, you don’t like him? Well, too bad for you.

I find the following caricature to be absolutely hilarious and spot on – especially if you’ve watched the movie he’s alluding to (click here).

Following the publication of this picture, French embassies across the world have started boosting their security measures as they prepared for a wave of demonstrations similar to those against the Americans following the anti-Islam movie that was published.

I, for one, have no idea why how some so-called Muslims even saw the prophet in that picture because all I can see is a man similar to the ones protesting getting dragged by an Orthodox Jew, an obvious jab at both religions but not at their holy figures. But what do I know, right?

The movie was disgusting. This picture though isn’t. The response of some so-called Muslims, obviously a minority, will be the same regardless. Their prophet was “insulted” therefore they must kill people. It’s a simple leap of reasoning for them. For everyone else, it’s nowhere near comprehensible. Even for other Muslims.

People are calling this the Dark Age of Muslims, in stark resemblance to the Christian witch-hunts and crusades and crackdown on science. But is the classification based?

I, for one, don’t think so.

Let me ask a question. How many Muslims look at the above picture and can’t help but smile? And why do those who smile actually do so?

The answer is quite simple: thick skin. And it’s what more Muslims need to start building. Why? Because in the age of freedom of speech that’s slowly but surely becoming less and less defined, the backward mentality of some of them when it comes to their religion is beyond unacceptable. It’s borderline nauseating.

Look at the following picture:

These pins are sold in a Christian area of Lebanon. Their origin has been reported to be somewhere in Beirut’s southern suburb but I don’t care about that. What I care about is the fact that these pins didn’t even elicit the response from Lebanese Christians that the flip flops did last year.

In the case of flip flops last year, the reaction was more than peaceful. No food chain stores were torched. The only thing that happened was that the store was closed by a court order for a weekend as people prayed in front of it. How many Muslims are publicly praying on the “insults” these days? Not many I suppose.

Keep in mind that for Christians, Jesus is God. Therefore, people insulting Him would be a much greater offense than insulting a prophet. And yet, no one is dying for insulting Jesus over and over again and let me tell you it’s not because Christians don’t have their fair share of religious pride.

How many so-called Muslims are publicly raging over the movie and the comic? Many. I’m sure there are many more Muslims who just let it pass. I’m also sure that there are many more that are better than the best of people at handling these things. But sadly that’s not the image the world gets across.

The image the world gets of many of my friends is that they are a bunch of narrow minded, religiously blind zealots who can’t but get up in a fit whenever their prophet is insulted and the world doesn’t know why. And this idea sickens me. But I can’t do anything about it because whatever I do, I’ll be the Christian looking at it from outside and preaching. So the world challenges Muslims again and again and again waiting for a change in their reaction. But the change never happens.

The reaction keeps on increasing. And the impression of Muslims becoming more blinded and more religious and, well, more unfree increases in the process. And all of this is because of the ignorant attitude of some.

The world doesn’t know that in Islam, portraying the prophet in picture is forbidden. Or it could be that they know and they don’t understand why. To be frank, I don’t even understand what the big deal is about painting a prophet in a picture. But what some so-called Muslims should know is that the world doesn’t care even if it was a cornerstone of their religion. Why’s that? Because the rest of the world is fast moving away from the bonds of religion and they expect everyone to keep up with them and the level of freedom that they are reaching. It’s overly simplistic perhaps but that’s the way it is.

The DaVinci Code. The book that caused a frenzy among Christians. It’s even banned in Lebanon. Contrast this to The Satanic Verses. Both books have more or less similar esoteric themes. Both books were widely successful. Both books are works of fiction. Both works were picked up by the corresponding religions they spoke about. Only one of those led to a fatwa asking to the murder of the author.

And I have to ask: why?

It’s not because Christians are more open minded. It’s not because they are more tolerant. God knows there are more narrow-minded Christians than they let on. I know many who are like that seeing as I come from the heart of Christian Lebanon. It’s because over the time, the majority of Christians developed a thick skin against these types of “insults.” Many don’t see them as insults anymore. I don’t think I’ll find a Muslim who doesn’t see in the above caricature an insult somehow. Even among the ones who are condemning the reactions.

But the problem isn’t only with those “people” protesting (read killing) on the streets.

Did you know that some twisted sheikh in Sidon decided to issue his own mini fatwa to permit the killing of the filmmaker behind The Innocence of Muslims? If you didn’t, now you do. How many Muslims can fathom this? The problem is that they are many. And some might even take him out on it. It has happened before with Salman Rushdie and Islam hadn’t been hit this hard since.

That sheikh’s protest was one of many that took place in Lebanon yesterday regarding the anti-Islam material. Some French language centers had even closed down for the day for fear of actions taken against them. Lebanese army tanks were spotted in the parking of Burger King and other franchises.

What some Muslims are failing to grasp is that the only thing hitting Islam and bringing it down is Muslims. And they are bashing it, tearing it, destroying it, demolishing it, annihilating every single foundation of it – all five pillars – with the behavior of some people and some beyond ignorant, beyond bearded religious men and their turban which, to those people, holds the pride of a religion whilst the only pride being held is the arrogance of said bearded religious men as they flaunt one extreme idea that defies the foundation of the religion they claim to know after another, sort of like candy at a carnival. Except it’s not haram.

Why isn’t this the dark ages of Muslims? Because such a thing is impossible to happen in this day and age. When the Christians had it, news didn’t travel in the blink of an eye. Almost everyone was ignorant. The corrupt church was the only entity effectively governing the world back then.

What is this age for Muslims? I’d like to call it the age of imbeciles. Because that’s what those violently protesting the movie are and that’s what those who are offended by Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon are. And they are the ones making their entire religion look like a religion of ignorants who can’t grasp the basic concept of freedom

But I have a solution to help these imbeciles.  How? Let’s start with making the level-headed religious men of Islam more powerful. Make their voices louder than the useless but effective shouting of those rallying the angry masses. Make the fanatic religious men with their hate mixed with extremism with a dose of stupidity to top it off categorically and irrevocably nobodies. Make more “anti-Islam” material. Brochures, clips, caricatures… you name it. Call it some people being offensive, call it freedom of speech. But make so much material that the only reaction possible would be to start ignoring and grow thick skin. It’s like giving a five year old so many toys he’d be saturated. Saturate their little heads. Expose them to so many stimuli that the only thing they’d want to do is go home and tuck themselves into bed and cry themselves to sleep and then wake the following day and realize that their prophet doesn’t care one bit about the movie, the caricature, the brochure and neither should they.

Did I mention I love Charlie Hebdo? Let’s not hope some fame-seeking bearded imbecile decides to kill the cartoonist too.