Yesterday, 12 people were shot, 4 injured, at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by two gunmen. In the past, Charlie Hebdo has been the target of several violent attacks because of its ‘satirical’ publications of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. In November 2011, after re-publishing the blasphemous cartoons originally published by the Danish magazine Jyllands-Posten, Charlie Hebdo offices were firebomb. In 2012, riot police were deployed to its offices after it published more Muhammad cartoons, including images of him naked.
While it is important that freedom of press and freedom of expression remains accessible to everyone, I believe that certain forms of satire can fall under hate speech, such as ridiculing personal beliefs, and that the fact that satire relies on the expense of another for its humour, which really isn’t that funny. Merriam-Webster defines satire as: “Artistic form in which human or individual vices, folly, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other methods, sometimes with an intent to bring about improvement.” This means that satire is used against those in power and not to belittle the oppressed. The constant ridicule of the Prophet Muhammad is further oppressing the already oppressed. The provocation of such actions from extremists results in further Anti-islam attitudes and Islamophobia, thereby further oppressing muslims.
However, it is also unacceptable that extremists should respond in such a way that leads to the loss of lives. This is because:
a) The attack on Charlie Hebdo, from what I know, was indiscriminate. The two gunmen attacked those people for simply being journalists and cartoonists for the magazine and not those who had drawn the cartoon. However, if they were to be the journalists and cartoonists that drew such blasphemous cartoons, the response from these extremists are in no way just either. Loss of lives in retaliation to offensive media is never acceptable.
b) The response from the gunmen does not set a good example for Islam and thus further alienates Islam as a religion. This action provokes more hate and ridicule towards Islam which is entirely unfair towards those who are Muslim as extremism in Islam is such a small part of the religion compared to the number of followers in that religion.
There is no way of justifying the actions of the gunmen yesterday, and that these lives were lost unnecessarily, and that is truly a tragedy. However, the attitude of Anti-Islam needs to stop.
Personally, I believe that many people on social media platforms (from articles I have read) who are reacting to this tragic incident have been unfairly judging Muslims. Generalising that all muslims are terrorists is extremely ignorant and intensifies the Anti-Islam attitude on a global scale. While everyone, me included, condemns the actions of these two gunmen, it is crucial to acknowledge that these two gunmen do not represent the entirety of Islam, nor do the represent the other 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. It is also extremely hypocritical to expect muslims who aren’t extremists to apologise on behalf of such people and to believe that extremists groups such as IS are true representatives of the religion. The KKK are an extremist Christian group and have been present for a long time, yet christians are not expected to apologise for the actions of the KKK, nor do the media and the rest of the world believe that the KKK are true representatives of Christians and Christianity. So why would doing the same thing with IS and Islam be acceptable? It’s not.