The latest Charlie Hebdo cover is a talking point across the world. The French satirical weekly, which was attacked by gunmen and 12 people were killed, including its editor, has printed at least five million copies of the latest issue. It is courageous of the newspaper and its management to come out with the next issue so soon after the tragedy.
While the whole world has been saddened by the unfortunate incident in France, there has been a sort of outpouring of Islamophobia across the world, especially in Europe. Dozens of attacks have been reported on Muslim establishments across France following the Charlie Hebdo attack. Islamophobia is being spread in a systematic way across Europe with several government officials throughout Europe telling Muslims to leave the continent if they want to live in peace. Every Muslim is being asked to condemn the attack.
However, despite the killings of thousands of Muslims in the Central African Republic and the rape of a large number of women, the barbaric incidents in the CAR were never condemned by the Christian world. There were just a few expressions of regret and nothing more. The worst thing was the fact that this whole massacre of Muslims was done under the nose of French army battalions stationed in Bangui, the capital of the impoverished nation.
No one has actually asked George Bush senior and junior to apologise for the death of the hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia and many other Muslim nations. Pakistani tribal regions continue to be pounded by US Predators, killing hundreds of people every month.
Whose war is the US fighting in Libya, Syria or for that matter in Iraq? While the whole world seemed to be in attendance in Paris for the million people march, why did the same world not show any concern for the Mumbai attack, for terror incidents in Assam, for the Peshawar killings of innocent kids who were targeted by a group of terrorists whose very genesis was planned with the active help of the US and the CIA? No one came out strongly against the summer war in Gaza where several hundred young children were massacred even inside the confines of hospitals, schools and UN shelter homes. Why is no one shedding tears for hundreds of thousands of Syrians who are being butchered by Bashar al-Assad?
And by the way where is the limit of freedom of expression. Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were given a free hand while drawing outrageous cartoons of the Prophet, caricatures of Christian religious figures were not allowed as it would disturb law and order.
Following the publications of Prophet Muhammad cartoons in 2012 that were more than ‘shocking’ and ‘offensive’, the French government, which claims to be the champion of human rights and free speech, banned street protests not just in Paris but across the country. If the publication of cartoons were legit in the eyes of the French law, the population too has the fundamental right to protest.
Olivier Cyran, who worked with Charlie Hebdo for 10 years while criticising the magazine’s policy of Islamophobia, says, “Hunkered down behind your aching sides, you claim the sacred right ‘to laugh’ equally at imams, priests and rabbis. Why not, if you still really applied this principle. Have you forgotten the Siné incident [where a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist was sacked for anti-Semitism in 2008]?”
Despite the injustice and the sheer magnitude of the anti-Islam propaganda, the killings of the cartoonists and the policemen one of whom was Muslim, were barbaric and condemnable. Prophet Muhammad himself would have pardoned the cartoonists if he was around.
Syed Ubaidur Rahman is a New Delhi-based writer
The views expressed by the author are personal