After Jesus, I think, the brutally murdered people associated with the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo must be the most unfortunate beings in the history of the world.
Jesus was born in a Jewish family but he died as a Jew without any inclination whatsoever that more than half a century after his demise, people will start a religion in his name which will have at the end of the first decade of the Twenty-First century, the most adherents of any other religion. In 2010, one out of three persons on this planet was a Christian.
And the white/Christian/Western world has benefited, and are still benefiting, the most out of the name of this cruelly crucified brown Jewish rabbi from Palestine. Beneficiaries have also been the worst perpetrators of crimes globally in the name of “Our Lord,” “democracy,” “civilization,” “human rights,” “freedom of speech,” and what not. The whole of the United States has been built on stolen land of Native Indians, developed with black slave labor, and is being maintained on undocumented and seasonal farm workers inside the US, and outside, on developing countries’ labor and resources.
The murdered staff of Charlie Hebdo would not have, even in their wildest dreams, thought that so many heads of states and high officials (most hypocrites), accompanied by over a million people, would gather to pay tribute to them and to declare, with millions around the world, “Je suis Charlie”, “I am Charlie.” The last time Paris had witnessed these many people was during the Second European Global War (1939-1945) in 1944, after the city was freed from the German occupation.
US President Barack Obama missed the event. And very wisely. It had nothing to do with freedom of speech. Obama was criticized for skipping the Paris rally. The critics were also disappointed that he didn’t even send any senior member of his cabinet as his substitute but preferred to be represented by the US ambassador to France.
One of the critics, Randy Weber (Republican House Representative, Texas):
“Even Adolph [sic] Hitler thought it more important than Obama to get to Paris. (For all the wrong reasons.) Obama couldn’t do it for right reasons.”
“I need to first apologize to all those offended by my tweet. It was not my intention to trivialize the Holocaust nor to compare the President to Adolf Hitler. The mention of Hitler was meant to represent the face of evil that still exists in the world today. I now realize that the use of Hitler invokes pain and emotional trauma for those affected by the atrocities of the Holocaust and victims of anti-Semitism and hate.”
So much for freedom of speech. Weber is aware of emotional trauma and pain of Jews and so apologized for using the wrong analogy. The Muslim feelings are hurt too by the Charlie Hebdo cartoons but Weber doesn’t give a damn about those feelings.
The White House had to defend itself to the reporters. Its press secretary Josh Earnest:
“… what I am telling you is that, yes, we believe somebody with a higher profile should have been asked to attend.”
God’s Chosen One or a Corpse-Lifter
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was there too. French President Francois Hollande didn’t want Netanyahu to come to Paris, but the IsraeliKnesset elections are to be held in March this year, so he went anyway and literally shoved his way to the center, Yossi Verter:
“Netanyahu had to endanger his life to reach the same central position [as that of the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas], gently shoving the president of Mali as if he were an asylum seeker whose place was in the freezing Holot detention facility.”
The visit proved a profitable venture. It was a golden opportunity for a big Jewish terrorist to blast those puny Muslim terrorists. Then he did the unthinkable: On the French soil, he told the French Jews
that they’ll be more safe in Israel than in France and so should move to Israel. Only an Israeli leader could utter such a blasphemy and get away without any consequence. The Jews didn’t accept the offer. However, Netanyahu succeeded in stealing the corpses of four Jewish victims of Amedy Coulibaly and having them buried in Jerusalem, though not before the dead and their families suffered humiliation and harassment. (Israeli leaders just want Jews, dead or alive, to migrate to Israel to increase the ratio of Jews in comparison to the Arab population. Probably, in the next population census they’ll start counting the dead too.)
Paris, the world capital
Netanyahu was the biggest beneficiary of the Paris rally. A distant second was French President Francois Hollande. France, sandwiched between the German economic domination and US military muscle, is mired in economic, social, and political problems. Diane Johnston puts it like this:
“Except for the therapeutic moment of togetherness on January 11, the country feels buffeted by winds of conflict it cannot resist.”
At the rally, Hollande declared:
“Paris is today the capital of the world. Our entire country will rise up and show its best side.”
It’s a pity that Hanoi, Algiers, Tripoli, Antananarivo (or Tana), and so many other capitals, the victims of French colonialism and imperialism, never got to proclaim themselves as the capital of the world. (To be fair, France lost and left Vietnam in 1954. Then it was the United States turn to turn Vietnam into a cemetery and escape in helicopters.)
Trouble in utopia
On 7 January 2015, two Islamists, Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi shot to death twelve people and injured eleven more, four of them seriously, most belonged to the Paris based Charlie Hebdo. Hamyd Mourad, the alleged driver of the getaway car, surrendered to the police: he has an ironclad alibi. In another incident, Amedy Coulibaly killed five more people and injured eleven people January 8-9. All three gunmen were killed by the police.
Before these killings, France was not a paradise on earth. Everything was not fine. France had metal cages over public benches to stop homeless peoplefrom using them; every 20 hours, a homeless person died; anthropologist Scott Atran:
“France has about 7.5% Muslims and [they make] up to 60–75% of the prison population. It’s a very similar situation to black youth in the United States.”
France played a role in overthrowing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi; in reconquering Mali, in …
(In the United States, it was not Obama but his administration’s three female warriors who forced him into the Libyan war. For these women, equal rights means that women in power will play equal role in initiating or inciting a war.)
On January 12, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls speaking to the parliament said that France
“is at war with terrorism, jihadism and radical Islamism.”
The parliament re-authorized him 488-to-1 vote to carry out airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq.
Re-authorization means France was already at war with the Islamic State.
Britain and freedom of speech
Britain is also fighting the ISIS, some Britons have joined the war as mercenaries. After United States and Israel, if any country loves the “war on terror” the most, it is Britain.
Among the crowd, the leaders whose record regarding freedom of the press is not that great were there too to publicize “Je suis Charlie.’ British Prime Minister David Cameron was one of the Charlies in that Paris crowd.
In August 2013, David Miranda was harassed by the British authorities at London’s Heathrow Airport. His only fault was that he was journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner. Greenwald works for the British newspaper Guardian and had broken the Edward Snowden story. In the same month, the editor of that newspaper Alan Rusbridger reported that a couple of months back he had received a call from the British government. The caller on the other end said: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.“
So two goons from the British intelligence and security organization called Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ visited the Guardian office building and witnessed the destruction of the hard drives in the building’s basement. One of the goons joked: “We can call off the black helicopters.”
In Britain too, Julain Assange of the WikiLeaks has taken refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. WikiLeaks publishes classified and secret information of the US government which reveals mentality and deeds of that government.
Another Charlie in that Paris crowd was Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of the Justice and Development Party (JDP).
On January 14, police raided daily newspaper Cumhuriyet‘s office in Istanbul for publishing Charlie Hebdo cartoons. A criminal investigation has been launched against columnists Hikmet Çetinkaya and Ceyda Karan. Amnesty International points out that many writers, lawyers, journalists, activists have been the victims of prosecutions for expressing their views in Turkey. And what was Davutoglu’s reaction?
“Freedom of press does not include insulting the Prophet.” “People who may tolerate insulting an individual will clearly not respond with the same degree when it is against the Prophet. Since Turkey has such a sensitivity, publishing a cartoon that aims to insult the Prophet is a clear incitement.”
So what was Davutoglu doing in Paris? He saw the rally as a march against terrorism – not free speech. Turkey, being a candidate for the European Union membership, has to show support, even though his government’s only quarter leg is in Europe, the rest of the one and three/fourth legs are marching towards Islam.
A couple of years ago, “in accordance with Islamic beliefs,” an education reform law was passed by the Turkish government which recommended strongly that girls past the age of menstruation should avoid co-ed schools and should instead enroll in “distance learning.”
In September 2012, Sevan Nisanyan, the Turkish-Armenian writer wrote:
“It is not ‘hate crime’ to poke fun at some Arab leader who, many hundred years ago, claimed to have established contact with Deity and made political, economic and sexual profit as a result. It is almost a kindergarten-level case of what we call freedom of expression.”
He was thrown behind the bars for insulting Muhammad.
The hypocrite leaders were not the only ones making noises; there were imperialism’s frogs too.
In South Asia, there is a special name for those frogs who show up during the rain. They are called barsAti mendak/s or rainy frog/s. In the United States, we have imperialism’s frog/s that show up the minute Muslim/s has/have committed an atrocity/ies. One of that barsAti mendak/s is Bill Maher. When on Jimmy Kimmel Live he was asked about the Paris attack, he said: “Hundreds of millions of them [Muslims] support an attack like this.”
It’s total rubbish. This kind of nonsense makes one wonder about Maher’s level of intelligence and his knowledge about the Muslim countries. Hundreds of millions of Muslims are living in abject poverty and have no time to think about anything except how to survive. Many more millions are working in inhumane condition for Gap, Sears, Walmart, and others. Many a time, they die at their workplaces. On the show, Maher was full of praise for the Charlie Hebdo staff: “These guys have the balls of the Eiffel Tower. Their balls were bigger than Gérard Depardieu, because they kept doing it.”
Nothing wrong with having bigger than Eiffel Tower size balls. May the current staff have Tokyo Skytree size balls. (I wish the same for Bill Maher and other imperialism’s frogs). The murder of Charlie Hebdo staff and others is an absolutely heinous crime and can’t be justified in any manner whatsoever. But it also has to be pointed out that if the cartoons were published as a reaction to some nasty action by Muslims, then it could be more understandable. But when published continuously, some of them extremely vulgar, targeting the same community over and over then there is something seriously wrong – either the publication is racist, communalist, or is indulging in such acts out of pure hatred for that community, which is at the bottom of the economic, political, social, and other ladders. Or as Norman Finkelstein says, “Charlie Hebdo is sadism. It’s not satire.” Their partiality towards Judaism can’t be ignored either. For Charlie Hebdo, Tariq Ali has a suggestion:
“Why not show Moses regularly gang-raping Palestinian men and women? Just as an idea.”
Freedom of speech
The establishment in any country only permits so much freedom of speech which doesn’t threaten the ruling class. Let’s assume in the United States some of the people using their right of free speech succeed in convincing people through online, electronic, print, and social media not to report to work for an indefinite period of time because the system is exploitative and very inegalitarian. This would result in the economy coming to a standstill. Will the ruling class in US let the people responsible for this act live in peace? The strikers will be ordered to report to work immediately, because the 1% are in a hurry to control 100% of the wealth. Google’s Eric Schmidt, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple, At&t, Comcast, and others will be in the forefront to provide all information on the strikers to the authorities.
Developing countries don’t have the sophisticated system like the United States where the power switches hands between only two parties. US political system follows a simple philosophy; the fewer parties there are, the merrier it is for the corporations to bribe and control. That’s why US prefers dictators in other countries because it and US corporations have to deal just with one person only – the dictator. In US, both parties are supported by mostly the same corporations. The opposing party is never out on the street to protest on any issue because it knows the corporations funding their election campaigns wouldn’t want to see their businesses and properties suffer in any manner. Media is owned by big corporations which also control the government and take care of population’s necessary brain washing in manufacturing the consent required to smoothly carry out the establishment’s policies.
Many of the developing countries consist of many ethnic and/or tribal groups with innumerable problems: some inherited from the exiting colonial powers, others imposed by the old colonial powers and/or the US, and yet others created by the countries’ own ruling classes through mismanagement and corruption. They haven’t yet succeeded in initiating a system which can make them feel secure in their power and thus permit their people more freedom of speech. But whatever the problems there may be, they’ll have to relax the restrictions on free speech because of technological advances in communication which enable people to reach others globally in an instant.
West’s current villains
The countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America has many grievances against the West for colonizing, looting, and then leaving those countries in a mess. The tragedy didn’t end there. It was followed by imperialism. The villain for the West after the end of Second European Global War was the communist/socialist world. But since early 1990s, the new monsters for the civilized West has been the Muslim; and, so it is they who bear the brunt of the bulk of bombs, wars, and adverse publicity.
(Seems like Muslims won’t be alone for too long; Russia’s Vladimir Putin has almost joined the United State’s bad guys list and it seems in a not far future, China will be on that list too. The United States’ plan in enhancing relations with right wing Hindu nationalist and corporate friendly Prime Minister Narendra Modi is (besides selling arms, consumer goods, and getting more concessions for US businesses) to put India as a counterweight to China. It is difficult to say how many politicians and business people were sent to hospital because of high blood pressure, but as far as news anchors, reporters, and pundits are concerned, almost all of them must have had consulted doctors for hypertension due to high euphoria over Obama’s recent India visit and over enthusiasm in reporting the moment to moment account. They just went crazy over (Lord) Bhagwan Obama.)
A posthumously released video shows Amedy Coulibaly pledging allegiance to IS, i.e. Islamic State. In another video, one of the supposedly Kouchai brothers said he belonged to Al Qaeda and it was a revenge killing for publishing cartoons of Muhammad.
That is true. But no doubt the wars waged against Muslim countries and the atrocities and torture committed on its peoples by the West has played an important role, too. Another fact to be acknowledged is the utmost reverence Muhammad is held in, by the Muslims. For a long time, Muslims were known as Mohammedans, i.e. followers of Muhammad. In India, the term is still in use
in some places. Though Muslims may deny this, but for a great many Muslims Muhammad is like a God. And there is nothing wrong in it. For the average person, the abstract Allah can’t give the satisfaction which a human being believed to have communicated with God, directly or indirectly, can provide.
We are all different: our brain chemicals, genetic material, hormones differ. Many of us suffer from auditory hallucination, where culture plays a role too. Some people believe God talks to them, of course, many of them use God’s name for some gain but others do genuinely feel that God is speaking to them. Different people believe in different things.
Hundreds of millions of Christians believe Jesus is the son of God, born of Virgin Mary – they totally deny carpenter Joseph’s fatherhood, Jesus’ biological father. (If Joseph were around today, he might have been able to reclaim Jesus as his son through a DNA test.)
Hundreds of millions of people within and without believe the United States is a democracy. It’s a lie. But people believe it.
An equal number of them or more believe that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as “Mahatma” or Great Soul, was a saint who defeated British with his non violence. Both are great lies. (The West loves heroes who don’t pick up arms against their colonial and imperial masters. The reward for that is that the Western media, with its global reach, will promote such persons as heroes.)
Indian premier Modi believes plastic surgery and genetic science existed in ancient India. As proof, he cited examples from myths in Hindu scriptures. He did at the inauguration of Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre in front of scientists, doctors, and reporters! A lack of any questioning from the scientists to Modi’s crap is not only surprising but is also dangerous. If he had uttered this nonsense at a political rally, one could have discarded it as a political rhetoric.
The Islamic world and especially the Shia Muslims have never made much fuss about Muhammad’s image. It was only in the eighteenth century that the alliance between Saud ibn Muhammad and Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab, both Sunnis, in 1744 introduced a stricter version of Islam, now known as Wahhabism, in which no room was left for any saint or shrine to be revered. Wahhab was already into demolishing shrines and other objects venerated by people in towns he came from. Then Saud’s descendents indulged in demolishing graves, including those of Khadija and Hussein, Prophet’s first wife and grandson, respectively. it’s only in recent decades that Islamic fanaticism has succeeded in spreading its wings – thanks to the United States and the Saudi petrodollars.
A few years ago, I wrote about Islamists in Pakistan.
“Allah’s warriors are multiplying like insects and worms and have become immune to the barbaric bombings by the United States. They have become bold and it seems no area in Pakistan is outside the range of their suicide missions.”
By the grace of Allah, and the gutless politicians, divided military, and ISI (Inter Services Intelligence), it seems, the worms and insects are going to be Pakistan’s fate for a long time to come. Many countries with Muslim majority or substantial Muslim population are facing similar menace to a varying degree. Basically, the Islamists wants to gain power but knowing fully well that their kind of violent and medieval ideology is not going to attract people in flocks, they resort to the only thing they know – creating fear in people through blowing up people in mosques, schools, buses; kidnapping for ransom and then failing to get it, executing the victims; imposing barbaric social norms in the areas conquered; and so on.
So when these Islamists come across any thing which can be used to rile up vulnerable section of society, they never miss a chance. The massacre of people in Paris and the subsequent burning of 45 churches and killing of ten people in Niger, and other violent incidents in other countries didn’t protect the image of Muhammad or Islam but people are easily incited when aggravated.
One can understand anger over vulgar images, however, aesthetic images and friezes come under attack, too. In 1997, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked the US Supreme Court Chief Justice that Prophet Muhammad’s sculpted representation inside the Supreme Court building be sanded down or removed. CAIR’s demand was rejected. In 2000, professor of jurisprudence in Saudi Arabia Taha Jaber al-Alwani, who was at time also chairman of the Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) Council of North America, issued the following statement:
“What I have seen in the Supreme Courtroom deserves nothing but appreciation and gratitude from American Muslims. This is a positive gesture toward Islam made by the architect and other architectural decision-makers of the highest Court in America. God willing, it will help ameliorate some of the unfortunate misinformation that has surrounded Islam and Muslims in this country.”
Very rarely one hears such statements coming from such circles.
It is fine to believe Muhammad as a prophet or “the Seal of the prophets” and to revere him in whatever manner a believing Muslim wants, but it is absolutely wrong to impose that belief on other people and to expect they should revere Muhammad the way believing Muslims do. For many Muslims and most non Muslims Muhammad was just one of the earthlings who once inhabited this planet and nothing more. If people want to criticize or ridicule Muhammad then let them do that. If Muslims feel hurt then they should respond in a similar manner by insulting the critics’ prophets or religion, or rationally pointing out the incivility, or just ignoring them.
Because if today Prophet Muhammad is exempted from criticism or ridicule, tomorrow president Muhammad would want an exemption, commander-in-chief Muhammad would want the same, feudal lord Muhammad would expect similar treatment, CEO Muhammad’s expectation won’t be different, and a sales rep Muhammad would claim discrimination if not accorded the similar privilege. This is no joke.
A little over four years ago, Naushad Valiyani, an Ismaili Muslim doctor in Hyderabad, Pakistan, was arrested for trashing a sales rep’s card in the dustbin. The rep’s name was Muhammad. He filed a complain stating that Valiyani committed a blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad! (Ismailism is a branch of Shia Islam.)
Nothing in this world is to be considered holy because nothing is holy on this globe. And remember this simple reasoning: God is our creation.
“He is not the Father God. You are the mother of God. You gave birth to God. She, he, I, they, we all are mothers of God. We gave, and give, birth to God in time of our needs.”
“We are all Mother Mary, Miriam, Maria, Mariam, Mapia, or Madonna. We are all Virgin Mary — nobody impregnates us and yet we conceive God.“
B. R. Gowani can be reached at email@example.com