Charlie Hebdo — Clarifications and Questions

It’s been an incredibly stressful week for Muslims around the globe. The horrific shootings that took place in Paris last week seem to have dominated the news agenda. Despite 2000 people being killed in Nigeria, and Muslims killed and driven out of their homes in CAR, the 17 lives lost in Paris seems to be what everyone wants to talk about. When I say everyone I mean non-Muslims. Muslims are pretty fed up of the hypocrisy, Mehdi Hasan sums it up pretty well in his piece this week. The backlash since the shootings has been extortionate. From mosques being vandalised in France to people like Rupert Murdoch (perhaps one of the most powerful people in the world) stating Muslims are collectively responsible — Muslims are really feeling the brunt of this. We’ve heard condemnations from many Muslim scholars and organisations but what does it all mean and what are we really thinking? Here are some clarifications that I feel need stating.

  1. Murder is a sin. It is haram (not permitted) in Islam. Blasphemy is a punishable crime in Islam. But the punishment can only be carried out within a legitimate Islamic state, after a fair trial has taken place and only then by the appointed executioner. The shootings were unislamic on so many level. For a start France is not a Muslim country nor does it have Islamic laws. Secondly a normal citizen is not under any circumstance permitted to go and murder people they believe have committed blasphemy. I hope I’ve cleared that up? So if you hear Muslims condoning the shootings then they are ignorant of Islamic teachings and have let their emotions run away with them.
  2. Just because I think Charlie Hebdo is a blasphemous publication, doesn’t mean I want the writers/cartoonists dead. I hate the rubbish that Charlie Hebdo print in the name of satire. I AM NOT Charlie. For me Charlie Hebdo represents racism, Islamaphobia, anti-semitism and vulgarity. 
  3. The Prophet Muhammad NEVER responded with violence to anyone who hurled abuse at him verbally or physically. Examples of how he dealt with haters are can be found here.
  4. Depictions of any prophet of Islam are not looked at favourably. I have blogged about the reasons why. To explain further, the Prophet Muhammad is as important to us as a parent. He is our role model, we emulate him and live our lives by following the Quran and using his examples as our moral compass. He was kind, humble, patient and tolerant. From how to eat to how to pray, his example dictates a Muslim’s daily activity. To then go and insult, make crude jokes about him, you can begin to see why Muslims would get upset. Upset, frustrated and provoked are some of the feelings you would feel if somebody kept mocking and insulting your loved one over and over again. Out of 1.8 billion Muslim some will lose their mind and commit violence. Not justified but it should explain why we get so upset. Also note not all Muslims care, some do and some don’t. We are a diverse bunch. The cover of Charlie Hebdo after the shootings showing an upset Prophet Muhammad stating ‘you are forgiven’ and ‘I am Charlie’ didn’t offend me. The actual depiction may offend some people — the image shows Prophet Mohammad with beady eyes and a big nose. Not flattering but then caricatures never are.
  5. There is no such thing as true freedom of speech or expression. In Germany, it is a crime to deny the holocaust, in France pro-Palestinian marches were banned this year after so many Palestinians were killed by Israel, and in the UK a man was convicted for burning a poppy. There are many examples. Many things are distasteful and offensive and editors make decisions every day about what they should print and what they shouldn’t. They don’t want to offend anybody deliberately, which leads to my next point. 
  6. We are British, and the one thing British people don’t like doing is offending. We maintain a stiff upper lip if we don’t like anything. That’s not to say we should always be politically correct, but be mindful of people’s sensibilities. Why is that such a bad thing? Why should we seek out to offend a minority? What is one going to gain out of it? It’s not British and it’s not clever. Perhaps the French don’t have this in their culture? This is not a curtailment of freedom of speech. As journalist and novelist Will Self said on Newsnight — ‘Freedom of speech is a right, and with every right comes responsibility.’ Absolutely spot on, just because we are allowed to make disgusting jokes about somebody, does that mean we should just for the sake of it, without thinking about how it will affect thousands of people?
  7. The media has really whipped up a frenzy with the continuing news coverage of the Paris shootings. Giving attention to terrorists is what they want and we are giving them exactly that. Who were the killers? Were they just evil men who hated the West or was it more to it then that? Finding out what drove them to commit such a dreadful act is important and relevant. Writing them off as evil enemies of freedom is not helpful. The root cause of their actions must be examined. Their background and their upbringing all count.
  8. Stop asking Muslims to apologise. The more you ask ordinary Muslims to apologise the more cheesed off they’re going to get. Christians weren’t asked to apologise for Christian fundamentalist Anders Breivik who killed 77 people so why the double standard? The impression I’ve got over the years is that if I don’t say anything as a Muslim it means that I condone it. Where does this logic come from and why does it apply to Muslim crimes only? 

I’m going to leave it there for now and hope to have a weekend free from terrorism talk. More next week!

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    The World And Its Double Standards

    We are halfway through Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims and this last week has been difficult to say the least. I’m not referring to the fasting aspect, I’m referring to attack on Gaza. All week myself and many others have been posting pictures and articles about the reality of Operation ‘Protective Edge’. Over 150 Palestinians have died in less than a week, many of those women and children. I don’t need to sit here and retell the disgusting attitude and ideology of the Zionists who rule over Israel and many other governments in the world. But I will ask this: Why is a Palestinian life worth less than an Israeli one? Is it because the masses have become desensitised by the struggle of the Palestinians? A struggle that has gone on for over 60 years where Palestinians have been denied human rights. A struggle against apartheid, and a struggle to keep their homes from being destroyed and their land stolen so that illegal settlements can be built. The settlements (illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention) give Jews the right to come from anywhere in the world and live there — The Law of Return, which is the main tenet of Zionism, is racism at its best. Torture the existing residents to such an extent that they flee the country, or bomb them so they die thus making room for the Jewish people around the world who already have homes in other countries. Crazy law which so many believe in.

    So what is the international community’s problem? Why has the reporting of events in Gaza been so lacklustre in organisations like the BBC and American media? Demonstrations took place all over the world supporting the people of Gaza but very few media outlets reported it. Why are Palestinians lives worth less than Israeli lives? Is it because the West wants the only non-Muslim country in the Middle East to remain non-Muslim? Is it pure racism, even though the Palestinian and Israeli people are both Semites and actually have the same race? Is it guilt following centuries of persecution of Jews, and now it’s ok for Jewish Israelis to swap roles from oppressed to oppressor? Is it because of the millions of dollars worth of trade in arms and goods that would be lost if they spoke out against Israel? America gives millions of its citizens dollars to Israel in weapons and aid. Why? Is it because of the Biblical prophecy which promises Jews the holy land? Or is it because the people at the top have bought into the Zionist ideology? Whatever the reason, apparently it’s ok for Israel to kill 150 civilians because even if they’re not part of Hamas, they probably know somebody in Hamas or if they are children then they will become terrorists. If they are women, that’s ok because they give birth to terrorists. This is just some of the mindset of people who have been brought up listening to Israeli propaganda. Whatever the reason, this is not acceptable by any standards. 
    Let’s be honest and clear about this. The reality is this — Israel wants to get rid of all the Palestinians in Palestine for land and land only. They have been trying to do this for decades by making the lives miserable of those in the occupied territories, by building more and more illegal settlements and by simply attacking them with air strikes, bombs and other methods. Hundreds and thousands of Palestinians have fled since the creation of Israel, as their homes were destroyed and they were made refugees in their own country. (What about their right to return?) But for those that stayed they are still experiencing the ethnic cleansing and apartheid regime by Israel. They are resisting at the cost of their lives and their children’s lives. Israelis love using the phrase ‘human shields’. When you don’t have anything and you will not leave your home under the pressure of Israel, what can you do? Only resist and throw stones. According to international law those in illegal occupied territories are allowed to fight and resist legally.
    The situation is dire and the world leaders need to wake up and stand up against injustice. For us mere mortals all we can do is raise awareness and complain about one sided reporting. So please when you see injustice stand up and fight against it. Complain, demonstrate, share the truth, this is the minimum we can do. And maybe somebody will listen one day.

    Ramadan Mubarak!

    Today marks the first eve of the first day of Ramadan, which is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar. In this month Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset. I blogged about Ramadan last year, you can read more about fasting and Ramadan here.

    I want to begin by explaining a bit more about Ramadan. Not eating and drinking is really only half of what constitutes a fast. At a much deeper level fasting is about your relationship with the Almighty. It is about reflection, righteousness, spirituality and submission. This month is also a month of mercy and blessings so why waste it doing trivial and unnecessary things. Which is why I won’t be blogging that much this Ramadan!

    Apart from this, one thing I find that I spend too much time doing is messing about on social media. From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram plus add time checking emails and surfing the internet, I definitely waste a lot of time. This is a battle I’m sure many people have but I will try very hard to limit my use of social media. Let’s see how it goes. There must be an app surely? If anybody knows of an app that can put an alarm on or something like that, let me know!

    In the meantime enjoy Ramadan and the blessings it brings with it. Happy Ramadan to everyone whether you are fasting or not 🙂

    How Social Media Has Made Muslim-Bashing Completely Acceptable

    I find it incredible that Islam and Muslims are interrogated and harassed on a daily basis over social media. It just doesn’t happen to people of other faiths. There are people who have Twitter accounts for the main purpose of vilifying and insulting Islam. There are hundreds whose profiles reflect this. Hiding behind the lines ‘British and proud’ or ‘English and proud’, people are happy to espouse muslim hatred.

    Read the whole article on HuffingtonPost.com

    Boris Johnson Has Lost The Plot

    The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wrote in his column for the Telegraph that he thinks children of ‘radical Islamic extremists’ should be taken away and put into the care system. Right Mr. Mayor what a lovely idea, but what in your mind constitutes a radical extremist?

    Read whole article

    Mark Duggan – Killed Lawfully?

    Over two years later, finally the inquest into the death of Mark Duggan has come to an end. The jury made up of ten random Londoners decided that Mark Duggan did not have a gun on him when he was shot and killed by a police officer in August 2011. Despite this the IPCC has came to the conclusion that Duggan was killed lawfully. I find the outcome quite shocking, as have the family of Duggan and hundreds of others.

    When somebody makes a mistake, which leads to a criminal offence, they have to face the consequences. A punishment is given to everybody who is found guilty of committing an criminal offence. The difference here is that this officer is not being punished for his mistake. The officer believed that Duggan had a gun-this was the officer’s mistake. He went ahead and shot him and he died as a consequence. Of course being an armed officer, he is permitted to shoot if the subject is a threat. But with no gun, where is the threat? So this police officer mistakenly thought Duggan was a threat. Any mistake anyone makes in a court of law, they are punished for. This wasn’t a court of law though, this was the police investigating the police in reality.

    There are discrepancies in this case, and the question I want to ask is whether Duggan, a black man, would still be alive today if he was white? A question that can never be answered, but one we should all stop and think about. As someone from an ethnic minority, cases like this really worry me. It’s 2014 and the majority of the black community believe the outcome of the inquest was completely wrong and a big cover up. This is bad news for London. Whatever happens next, with the family promising to fight for Duggan’s innocence, the relationship between the police and the black community has been severed.

    Also we musn’t forget that it wasn’t just Mark Duggan who was killed that summer. His killing whether lawful or unlawful is also responsible for the events that lead to the murder of three men in Birmingham six days dater who were protecting their community from rioters. Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir were violently run over and left to die by a group of men taking part in the riots. One split second judgement made by one marked policeman can yield such destruction is actually pretty terrifying.

    Are There Any Role Models Left For Our Girls?

    After Rebecca Adlington’s revelations this week in ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’, it got me thinking about role models. Rebecca became a national treasure after winning us a gold medal in swimming last year in the Olympics, and is a superb role model for any young girl. She is one of the very few females in the public eye who is liked and appreciated for her talent rather than anything aesthetic.
    Click here to read more….