Charlie Hebdo , the French satirical magazine,, whose journalists were brutally gunned down by Islamic terrorists, is at the receiving end again. The attack is not directly from the Islamists, but indirectly through the regressive Left.
What was their crime ?
They wrote an editorial mainly addressing the European Left, pointing out how dangerous it is not to criticise Islam. It was titled “How did we end up here?”. The editorial talk about a huge iceberg. The terrorist attack in Brussels and in France including in their own office is only the tip of an iceberg. Radicalisation of ordinary Muslims that is taking place in Islamic communities every where represent the rest of the iceberg. Violent jihadists cannot exist without the existence of radicalised Islamic communities. Ordinary people of these communities have the same beliefs as the terrorists. Both think Islam and its prophet are above criticism or satire. Both believe islamophobia is the bigger problem than radical Islam. Both believe a veil or a burqa should not be criticised. Both want western countries to tolerate and allow Islamic beliefs and practices including Sharia. Sadly a large section of Left intelligentsia in Europe also agree with radicalised Muslims and jihadists in all the above points. That is why Charlie Hebdo, a staunchly Leftist magazine is asking “How did we end up here”.
Then came the attack. Charlie Hebdo was attacked for advocating prejudice and bigotry. A magazine who lost most of its creative team to Islamist bullets was accused ironically of propagating islamophobia. There was of course the accusation of racism.
There were supporters too. Julia Ebner wrote that Charlie Hebdo was only asking for open discussion on all topics. Myra MacDonald opined that the editorial was only asking for sustained defence of French secularism.
The best defence of Charlie Hebdo was not from the west, but from Pakistan, a society in despair due to Islamic radicalisation. Kunwar Khuldune Shahid rightly pointed out that the editorial echoed the voices of liberal Muslims.
He wrote :
How did we end up here, where a magazine’s words trigger more opinion-makers than murder over blasphemy?
How did we end up here, where satirical work is rigidly attributed the most bigoted interpretation, but scriptures fueling terrorism are endowed with plurality of versions?
How did we end up here, where there’s more consensus over Charlie Hebdo’s intentions than the Islamic State’s?
How did we end up here, where criticising religion has become right-wing?
Charlie Hebdo has been the staunchest critic of the National Front and the Catholic Church for nearly five decades.
Like a true left-wing publication it has mocked, ridiculed and critiqued Western interventionism and France’s colonialist past, often attributed as the main cause behind the rise in extremism within Muslim communities.
But now that the publication has stepped forward and highlighted the Muslim community’s role in aggravating Islamist terrorism, and criticised apologists like Tariq Ramadan for a lack of collective self-reflection, the publication has rubberstamped itself as Islamophobic.
If treating Muslims as any other community in terms of accountability and responsibility is Islamophobic then the Muslim world could certainly do with more of it.
What we definitely do not need is the trigger-happy sections of the left ready to feed the Islamists’ victim complex, and brandish labels of Islamophobia left, right and centre.
If Charlie Hebdo were Islamophobic, the liberal press in the Arab world wouldn’t be paying it tributes. Or maybe they’re Islamophobic as well…
Yes, those at the direct receiving end of religious extremism, Charlie Hebdo and Shahid, seems to understand Islam much better than the regressive Left.