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“Anything but the Prophet”: A Knife in Exchange for Drawings

Diana Moukalled
Lebanese Writer and Journalist
October 29, 2020
A roaming murderer, under the slogan “Anything but the Prophet”; but this slogan is nothing but a malicious disguise that is intended to preserve the "holiness" of leaders and rulers, and to fuel an illusory popularity.

Knife assaults, beheadings, and stabbings of innocent people in exchange for satirical drawings. This can’t be right.

The crisis over the French satirical cartoons and the incitement campaigns that followed, in which blindness prevailed over spilled blood, and stolen spirits in the interest of the “sacred”; these are all things no one will pay for as much as the victims of disinformation in the name of religion.

The crimes committed, whether they were against teacher Samuel Patti or against congregants in a church in Nice, are so ugly and formidable that it would be difficult to limit them only to their perpetrators. This is especially the case when the discussion deviates from the political correctness of publishing satirical cartoons, instead of being limited to the horror of murder and slaughter committed because someone found an idea too disturbing to grasp.

Notre Dame Church in Nice, France

When leaders, superiors and media outlets repeat phrases such as “cartoons offensive to Islam”, alongside “Al-Jazeera”, it confirms the correlation between the cartoons, freedom of expression and the insult to the sacred as a major sin, to the public. They are practically opening the door to the monsters who attacked and killed the professor, the worshipers, and other innocent people.

A roaming murderer, under the slogan “Anything but the Prophet”; but this slogan is nothing but a malicious disguise that is intended to preserve the “holiness” of leaders and rulers, and to fuel an illusory popularity. For the Turkish president to appear in a mosque chanting “the full moon has risen to us” and to spearhead the attack against France as “defending the dignity of Muslims,” all the while he violates the rights and dignities of his people daily, as well as other people whose blood his regime is involved in, is extremely cruel.

How could we believe those, who attack satirical cartoons, when they’re fraudulent, tyrannical and corrupted leaders who should be tried?

But how else would such tyrants remain in their rule and win the affection of the simple-minded, other than by using the power of holiness and populism, as a weapon in the face of those who come up with new ideas or publish satirical drawings?

The sacred here is simply an umbrella term, one that narrows and widens according to need, and will not stop at the boundaries of drawings. We’ve witnessed how many people in “Islamic” and Arab countries have been brought to the courts and tribunals on charges that do not differ much from those for which the “Charlie Hebdo” painters were killed.

The Racist West

When it came to the debate on satirical cartoons and the crimes that followed, some attempted to take the conversation into a discussion about racism in France and the West, which is justified and a necessary discussion. However, it also seems like an attempt for many to escape from the reality of Muslim societies, by jumping towards blaming the West instead.

French and Western secularism in general, does not revolve around the denial of the right to believe in religion. Rather, it revolves around the neutrality of the state and thought vis-à-vis religion, which is exactly what our Arab and Islamic societies have failed to do or understand.

Since Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi announced his alleged caliphate in 2014 and his terrorist organization began committing horrific massacres in the name of Islam, there have been calls for the largest institution of Sunni Islam today, Al-Azhar, to declare that ISIS was blasphemous, but he is yet to do so.

Al-Azhar has so far condemned the organization’s terrorism and called for it to be fought, but refused to conclude its atonement and expel it from Islam.

Yesterday, the Muslim Council of Elders at Al-Azhar decided to sue “Charlie Hebdo”, which had published satirical cartoons about the Prophet, and requested the criminalization of mockery of Islam.

This position is not limited to Al-Azhar, but is a position that extends to many Islamic leaders. It is true that they’ve condemned ISIS’s terrorism, but it was a condemnation that did not live up to the ferocity and enthusiasm that they used in their approach to the satirical cartoons.

So, what makes cartoons more disturbing than killing innocents? And what makes it easy to kill writers and thinkers, imprison them, and detach them from their religion, like the dozens of intellectuals and activists in Arab and Islamic countries?

Drawings and thoughts should not be surrounded by a fatwa or a law, or even with murder.

In an age in which there is no possibility of camouflaging or concealing artistic expression or an intellectual or political position, it is difficult to ask anyone not to mock, criticize a belief, no matter how sacred some may consider it.

Knife assaults, beheadings, and stabbings of innocent people in exchange for satirical drawings. 

This can’t be right.

The world is following what is happening in France, and what President Emmanuel Macron is doing in his approach to radical Islam, according to his labeling of it.

Approaching Macron’s positions from the angle of France’s colonial history, which inevitably deserves criticism, may be legitimate, but at this time and circumstance it is nothing but a cheap camouflage and an escape from the accountability of Islamic leaders and rulers of the region for the production of this murderous culture.

France paid a heavy price to get rid of the domination of religion in the public space,

a historical achievement they’re still proud of, one that is defended in the face of the political right and the radical left. It coincided with a European failure that began since the Arab Spring revolutions, which were aborted by dictatorial rulers in the most heinous ways, what drove millions of Arab and Muslim immigrants to European countries in search of safety, stability and life…

The issue of mocking religions, prophets, and their adherents is something that the French and Westerners in general always overlooked, and it’s an issue that doesn’t really raise much fuss. So, it makes sense to say, that the problem is not with “Charlie Hebdo”, but rather in the culture that confronts anything different from it with murder, covers their women, covers their freedoms with prohibition, their secularism with atonement, their thinkers with contempt, imprisonment, exile and murder.

This is an institutional culture, that takes up space in educational curricula and state institutions, and in the decisions of rulers, clerics, and even intellectuals who follow them.

This culture has recruited murderers and terrorists from the farthest reaches of the world, and it has grown under the tutelage of political Islam and the authority of despotic rulers.

This culture killed the French history teacher, and before and after him many innocents. The drawings of “Charlie Hebdo” only reveal to us the depth of the crisis of religious text and the political difficulties faced in understanding the meaning of freedoms and human rights.

الأكثر قراءة

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لتصلكم نشرة درج الى بريدكم الالكتروني