Well, I hardly need to explain the title and the background news story. Shocking on so many levels for so many people. 24 hour rolling news, debates across current affairs programmes had almost every angle covered.
In homes and offices over the world the general public debated the meaning of freedom of speech. What does freedom of speech mean to you? The freedom to offend? Standing up for the rights of other people you disagree with to offend? Why should all Muslims apologise for the crimes of crazy people or reassure others that we are not terrorists?
I’m part of a Muslim family in Britain so what was our reaction? Slightly different across the generations. Of course there was wholehearted disgust at the terrorists, no one should come to harm in the name of any religion and these self-appointed representatives are deluded.
Second, a niche publication such as Charlie Hebdo has a very small audience and an even smaller marketing budget. They provoke and insult all religions not just Islam but Islam is the religion that guarantees outrage and hysteria and guaranteed free publicity from other media.
Third, in my humble opinion, I hope this attack marks a coming of age for Muslims around the world to learn to be more tolerant and simply ignore people that provoke in order to relish the reaction. When Charlie Hebdo insulted Christianity and Judaism in the same manner with insulting cartoons did we hear about it? No, because followers of those religions don’t have violent and immature reactions. That is the best way to democratically protest against the publication of offensive material (if indeed you find it offensive in the first place).
If Muslims repeatedly ignore and stay calm to future provocations my theory is Charlie Hebdo will stop printing them.
Finally, my response to Sajid Javed (British MP) and Rupert Murdoch et al who demand that all Muslims apologise for terrorism or help to combat it I say this: Irish people were not represented by the IRA, white men don’t have to apologise for a disproportionate number being involved in paedophilia. Muslims pay taxes like any other citizen in order that government agencies do their job to combat crime. Terrorism or crimes in the name of religion need professional intervention, compelling communities to identify terrorists smacks of witch hunts and the historic persecutions of communists in the USA.