January 9, 2015 by gregrabidoux2013
“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,” they shouted as they left 12 murdered victims in their wake.
God is indeed great but it’s always been how humans interpret and “protect” such greatness that has always been less than noble. Name me more crimes and brutality that has been rendered in the service of one’s “God” than any other cause and you will immediately become the first to ever be able to do so.
Look, no one ever accused Muslim militant extremists of having a sense of humor. But it is equally clear that a number of such folks also can’t take being the target of a joke or two or three, either. Or, more precisely, two such believers, Cherif and Said Kouachi enraged over cartoons (that’s right I said, cartoons) that were irreverent of and poked fun at militant Muslims and the prophet Mohammad at the French weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, exacted their “revenge” yesterday. They forcibly entered the Paris offices of this newspaper and murdered 12 of their editorial and sketch staff while the remaining employees fled for cover and begged for mercy from the gunmen. The crime scene was littered with strewn papers, overturned chairs and desks and footprints in blood splattered from the dozen victims of these gunmen who made martyrs of these professional satirists and editorialists.
“Allahu Akbar,” (God is Great) they shouted as they escaped into the Paris streets.
Today, French police and anti-terrorist squads filtered through the Northeast countryside of France in villages like Corcy following up on tips about where these two cowards might be hiding.
Throughout Europe, many newspapers and magazines demonstrated their outrage at these brutal slayings, and sympathy and unity with their French journalistic brethren by doing two things. One they chose to re-print many of the cartoons that had poked fun at what the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo saw as the core hypocrisy of Muslim militants. Preaching of peace on one hand and beheadings in the other. Two, they adopted the unifying phrase “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie). And in reality, it seems anyone who dares poke fun at or mock or even take less than seriously what militants like Cherif and Said do are indeed “Charlie (Hebdo).” A target of their vengeful wrath for engaging in free speech and political and religious satire.
This is not, sadly, the first time Muslim extremists have targeted satirical “infidels” for their “mockery.” Not too long ago, Kurt Westergaard was targeted for death for his less than flattering cartoon depictions of Muhammad. In one notorious such publication the Prophet wore a bomb for a turban. Recently, the Swedish artist Lars Vilks also was on an execution list for similar cartoon depictions. In 2004 the Danish filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered by Muslim extremists for his film “Submission” which was highly critical of how Islam treats and maintains women as submissive.
Even here in the US as we still unravel the terrorist threats and hacking of Sony Pictures apparently on behalf of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un lest we forget the movie release of “The Message” in 1977. This was also highly critical of Muslim extremists. To show just how “un-extremist” they were, they took several people associated with the film hostage, two of which ended being murdered in Washington DC. In the end though terror won, the movie release was halted.
And our own contemporary and cult classics “Southpark” animated cartoon and satirical newspaper “The Onion” have both been targets of terrorist threats for their satire of Muslims.
So, what does all of this violence mean, if, anything?
Should each of us simply refrain from making, drawing, publishing, reading, sharing or even discussing any comment, cartoon or depiction that in any way could be construed as mocking or poking fun at or somehow being less than reverential to Muslims? Or Christians? Or Jews? Or Buddhists?
Would that even be possible?
And, if so, who gets to decide what is or is not appropriately reverential or respectful? Is it cold-blooded murderers like Cherif and Said on a crusade to punish what they see as unforgivable infidels?
What happened this past Wednesday in the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo is tragic. Both for the loss of life as well as the fact that it won’t be the last time such horror occurs. It is also from at least one Western point of view, mine, absolutely unfathomable. How any religion could be so extreme, so intolerant, so utterly devoid of humanity as to lead so many of its followers to become convinced they must murder over satirical cartoons is beyond my comprehension.
But then any core belief, whether it be religious or political can become distorted and twisted in the hands of men and women who, I hope, misinterpret the essence of such beliefs and convictions. And then do hideous, barbaric things that again, I hope, no matter the Deity one believes in or the book one reads is not encouraged or rewarded.
I do not pretend to be an expert on Muslim or Islamic beliefs but I do have one wish tonight for peoples of different and conflicting faiths around the world-Could we all take ourselves and our own beliefs just a little less serious?
Because it shouldn’t kill you or I to laugh at others or even ourselves once in awhile.
God is indeed Great. But we, Humans still have so far to go to even become civil.
Je Suis Charlie. Et Tu Mon Ami?