In a climate where Islamist murder, violence and intimidation is cowering many into silence and submission, Charlie Hebdo’s insistence on poking fun at Islam on par with all religions and its refusal to back down despite calls for censorship is one that will be remembered when Islamism is in the dustbins of history.
French professor Marlière writes in the Guardian that the magazine’s aim to reassert its leftwing secular tradition in this climate is more anti-Islamic than anti-clerical. But anti-Islamism is this era’s anti-clericalism.
He adds that the cartoons are ‘unhelpful’ in a ‘climate of religious and racial prejudice’ but like the Guardian and many a liberal and post-modernist leftist, he misses the point. What is ‘unhelpful’ is Islamism’s murder and mayhem.
Criticising Islam and Islamism is not about prejudice – that is Islamism’s narrative – which has been bought hook, line and sinker by those calling for censorship. In fact, in this day and age, criticism is a historical necessity and legitimate challenge to our era’s inquisition.
Also, what the professor and the Guardian seem to forget is that those most at threat of the Islamist herds are not satirical French publications or even US and French embassies worldwide but the many countless human beings living under Islamism and Sharia law – a lot of them Muslims – who daily face threats, imprisonment and death for their dissent from and criticism – like Saudi Hamza Kashgari, Indonesian Alex Aan, Egyptian Alber Saber and Pakistani Asia Bibi.
When will the professor and the Guardian side with them?
As the most wonderful Salman Rushdie says: we “need to be braver”.
Yes, clearly we do if we are going to stop this barbarism once and for all…
As an aside, of course Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon is different from the despicable and racist Christian Right film, the Innocence of Muslims. But free expression is not just for those we agree with. And let’s not forget a bad film is just a bad film. The real problem that needs to be addressed head on is Islamism and censorship is the wrong response.