Displaying items by tag: terrorism
"WE will always defend freedom of expression...But freedom of expression is not without limit...
We owe it to ourselves to act with respect for others and to seek not to arbitrarily or unnecessarily injure those with whom we are sharing a society and a planet," said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Business Times, Oct 31).
This extract from Trudeau's statement was in reference to the Charlie Hebdo reproduction of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) drawings on Sept 2. Indeed everything has its limits. If expression has limits, so does the reaction to that expression.
The editorial of the Charlie Hebdo magazine wrote: "We have always refused to do so, not because it is prohibited... but because there was a need for a good reason to do it.
"To reproduce these cartoons in the week the trial begins over the January 2015 terrorist attacks seemed essential to us."
So, what was this "good reason"? Perhaps, it saw a benefit to be gained from violence. Yes, it indeed benefited from the violence that these provocative cartoons had instigated.
Below is an extract from Wikipedia supported by the New York Times and France 24.
"Charlie Hebdo had struggled financially since its establishment until 2015. As the magazine was facing a loss of €100,000 by end of 2014, it has sought donations from readers to no avail.
"The international attention to the magazine following the 2015 attack revived the publication, bringing some €4 million in donations from individuals, corporations and institutions, as well as a revenue of €15 million from subscriptions and newsstands between January and October 2015. According to figures confirmed by the magazine, it gained more than €60 million in 2015, which declined to €19.4 million in 2016. As of 2018, it spent €1 million to €1.5 million annually for security services."
The French freedom of expression is protected by "The 1789 Declaration of Human and Civic Rights" incorporated by reference into the French Constitution, according to Nicolas Boring, a foreign Law specialist.
But then, why was Charlie Hebdo (earlier known as Hara-Kiri Hebdo) banned in 1970? According to Time.com, Charlie Hebdo "was banned for mocking the death of former French president Charles de Gaulle".
Following the reprint and Emmanuel Macron's defence of the reprint rights of the magazine, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Oct 24 suggested that Macron was "mentally unstable".
This prompted the French government to recall its ambassador to Turkey because the head of the state is protected under the Law of July 29, 1881 (Limits on Speech against Institutions and Office holders).
Boring explains: "Yet, while French law considers free speech to be an essential component of a democratic society, it is not seen as absolute."
French legislators and courts seek to balance freedom of speech with other imperatives, such as other freedoms and rights, and public order. Thus, freedom of expression may be limited for the sake of protecting privacy, protecting the presumption of innocence, and preventing defamation and insults.
Freedom of expression may also be limited for the sake of protecting public order. It is, therefore, illegal to incite others to commit a crime, even when no crime ends up being committed. I am indeed forced to wonder what should have been the appropriate action of Macron's government based on past experience.
And if an ambassador can be recalled, what should have been the reaction of countries that consider Prophet Muhammad as their head and guide?
Talking of prophets, Muslims of France and the globe have erred in their reaction. They reacted and protested selfishly. They reacted partially. They must let the world know that Muslims cannot accept any obscenity when it comes to religious figures in Islam and Christianity.
In fact, there are more than 12 cases filed by Christian organisations against Charlie Hebdo for blasphemy.
Muslim organisations in France must join hands with them and take the legal path.
The French, Dutch, Danes and the world must understand that permitting obscenity against the prophets revered by millions benefits no one except those who promote hate mongering and violence.
Published in: New Straits Times, Saturday 21 November 2020
As events unfold in France centring around Islamophobia, there is a feeling of déjà vu. We have witnessed this a few times before this sequence of events. There is some provocation or other targeting the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) initiated by a non-Muslim group or institution.
Predictably, Muslims react. In the midst of demonstrations and rallies, an act of violence occurs perpetrated by an offended Muslim and/or his co-religionists, leading to further demonisation of Muslims in the media, which by this time is in a frenzy.
Feeling targeted, some Muslim groups escalate their response, sometimes causing more deaths to Muslims and non-Muslims even in countries far away. One also hears of calls to boycott goods produced in the country where it all started.
On this occasion, too, it was French President Emmanuel Macron's vigorous assertion that cartoons of the Prophet, produced by the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 and republished since, represented freedom of speech that angered a lot of Muslims in France and elsewhere, though some other remarks he made recently about "Islam being in crisis" and "Islamic separatism" also annoyed some people.
However, it was the beheading of a French teacher who had shown the cartoons in a class discussion on freedom of speech by a Muslim youth of Chechen origin that provoked not only Macron but also other leaders and a huge segment of French society to react with hostility towards Muslims and Islam.
It should be emphasised that almost all major Muslim leaders and organisations in France condemned the beheading. So did many Muslims in other parts of the world.
Not many Muslim theologians have argued publicly that resorting to mindless violence to express one's anger over a caricature of the Prophet is an affront to the blessed memory of God's Messenger. For even when he was physically abused in both Mecca and Medina, Prophet Muhammad did not retaliate with violence against his adversaries.
He continued with his mission of preaching justice and mercy with kindness and dignity, an attitude that should be nurtured and nourished in the Muslim world today, especially by those who command religious authority and political influence among the masses.
If a change in approach is necessary among some Muslims, French society as a whole should also reappraise its understanding of freedom of speech. It should never glorify the freedom to insult, mock, humiliate another person or community or civilisation.
Respect for the feelings of the religious other should be integral to one's belief system, secular or not. Just because the French state and much of French society have marginalised religion, it does not follow that it should also show utter contempt for a Muslim's love and reverence for his/her Prophet, especially when six million French citizens profess the Islamic faith.
Indeed, respecting and understanding the sentiments and values that constitute faith and belief has become crucial in a globalised world, where at least 80 per cent of its inhabitants are linked to some religion or another. We cannot claim to be champions of democracy and yet ignore, or worse, denigrate what is precious to the majority of the human family.
This does not mean we should slavishly accept mass attitudes towards a particular faith. Reforms should continue to be pursued, but it should not undermine respect for the foundations of that faith.
French leaders and elites who regard freedom of speech or expression as the defining attribute of their national identity should concede that there have been a lot of inconsistencies in their stances. A French comedian, Dieudenne, has been convicted in court eight times for allegedly upsetting "Jewish sentiment" and is prohibited from performing in many venues.
A cartoonist with Charlie Hebdo was fired for alleged "anti-Semitism". A writer, Robert Faurisson, was fined in court in the 60s and lost his job for questioning the conventional holocaust narrative. Many years later, French intellectual Roger Garaudy was convicted for attempting to reinterpret certain aspects of the holocaust.
The hypocrisy of the French state goes beyond convictions in court. While officials are rightfully aghast at the violence committed by individuals, France has a long history of perpetrating brutal massacres against Muslims and others. The millions of Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans who died in the course of the French colonisation of these countries bear tragic testimony to this truth.
Vietnam and the rest of Indo-China reinforce this cruel and callous record. Even in contemporary times, the French state has had no qualms about embarking upon military operations, from Afghanistan and Cote d'Ivoire to Libya and North Mali, that serve its own interests of dominance and control rather than the needs of the local people.
Honest reflections on its own misdeeds past and present are what we expect of the French in 2020. No need to pontificate to others. This is what we would like to see all colonial powers of do — partly because neo-colonialism is very much alive today.
The writer is the president of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST)
Published in: New Straits Times, 04 November 2020
Mainstream media tend to associate extremism and terrorism with Islam, but evidence shows otherwise. The root causes of most present-day conflicts have very little to do with religion even if they may appear to have religious implications. For instance, the Israeli-Arab conflict is about land, dispossession and the right of self-determination, even if some religious fanatics are exploiting the issue for their own ends. The conflict in Kashmir is also about the right of self-determination; it is not a Hindu-Muslim conflict......................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
Yet another New Year was born with the spectre of mindless terrorism. The slaughter of innocents amounted to a staggering 180 deaths in 30 recorded terrorist incidents in the first week of the month. These included suicide bombings, assassinations, mass killings by lone gunmen, and ambushes inter alia in Iraq, Turkey, Bahrain, Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Burundi, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Egypt, Yemen, Central African Republic, the Philippines, Nigeria and the United States......................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
The attacks in Brussels, on the heels of those in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., have stoked an already white-hot debate about Islamic terrorism in the United States. Many in the West, including the two Republican presidential front-runners, Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), urge a campaign that targets Muslim communities more directly, searching for those who might be prone to religious extremism and thus terrorism.................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
Surprise! It turns out that there's something to be said for haiving the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House. Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had decade ago..........Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
Why, for that matter, have dozens of young Somali men, comfortably settled among fellow Somalis in one of America's richest states, gone to "ISIS"? Last week a conference was held on this very subject at Manila's Shangri-La hotel. Pity that most of the hundred.................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
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In this two-part series on 'Extremism, Terrorism and Islam: Juristic and historical perspectives', Mohammad Hashim Kamali, founding CEO of IAIS Malaysia, discusses the various forms of religious extremism, and how they triumph wherever moderation is weak................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
Available in two-parts, Part I and Part II
Weakness: The narrative of grievance is very much pronounced in the Muslim world today. We have seen this before and should expect things to continue - the Charlie Hebdos and the Salman Rushdies. The provocateurs will be around ad nauseam. I am not directly referring to the recent Charlie Hebdo incident.................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)