The French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo’s decision to reproduce the offensive cartoons of the Prophet (pbuh) has once again evoked strong reaction from Muslims worldwide.
The cartoons were reproduced to coincide with the start of the trial of 14 men (three in absentia) accused of aiding and abetting the attackers that had stormed the magazine’s offices in Paris on January 7, 2015.
The two assailants and another one in a different locality were later killed by police.
Al-Azhar University, one of the top Islamic institutions in the Muslim world, condemned on September 2 the publication of “offensive cartoons” calling it a “criminal act”. It said their publication “reinforces hate speech and will whip up the feelings of believers.” Al-Azhar’s Observatory for Combating Extremism also reiterated its “strong condemnation” of the Charlie Hebdo attack.
Mohamad Azmi Abdul Hamid, President of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organizations (MAPIM), described the cartoon republishing as “deliberate intimidation” and “an uncivilized action.”
“It wants to create rifts between religious communities under the name of what is seen as freedom according to the law of France,” he told Anadolu Agency.
He said the publication seems to be part of a hate campaign attacking the sanctity of religions, particularly Islam, and warned that the move was equivalent to declaring a showdown with Muslims.
“We register our unequivocal objection to the French law that does not prohibit such attacks on religions,” said Hamid.
Both Pakistan and Turkey also officially condemned republishing of the offensive cartoons.
At the time of compiling this report, there has been no news about Saudi condemnation of the offensive cartoons.
The Saudi regime considers itself the ‘Custodian of Two Holy Mosques’ and claims ‘leadership of the Muslim world’ but on crucial matters, it maintains a deadly silence.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshidenounced Charlie Hebdo’s decision to republish the offensive sketches of the Prophet (pbuh).
“In a video message shared by Radio Pakistan, the foreign minister said that the blasphemous caricatures hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims across the world.
“He added that the act was carried out without any reason and no amount of condemnation was enough. ‘We are seeing a rise in Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia across the world and Pakistan has highlighted this at all forums’.”
Pointing out that Prime Minister Imran Khan had also highlighted the issue during his speech at United Nations General Assembly in New York last year, he said “Pakistan is a democratic country and a democracy believes in freedom of expression. But freedom of expression does not give you the licence to harm the sentiments of others.”
Turkey also condemned the French magazine’s decision to republish the offensive cartoons, saying that it “contains disrespect toward (Muslims) and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).”
“It is not possible to justify this insult and disrespect toward Muslims by freedom of press, art or expression,” Turkish Foreign spokesperson Hami Aksoy said while criticizing French President Emmanuel Macron’s stance on the matter.
While on an imperial-style visit to Lebanon, Macron on September 1 refused to condemn republication of the offensive cartoons, saying there was “freedom of speech in France and freedom of conscience.” His comments were reported on French broadcaster BFM TV.
He also said that it was not his place to pass judgment on the magazine’s decision.
While the French in general and Charlie Hebdo in particular proclaim their absolute right to freedom of expression, this is simply not true.
Take the case of Sine, the long-time cartoonist and satirical writer for Charlie Hebdo who was fired for writing that then French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s son will “go far in life”.
What precisely was Sine’s offence?
He wrote that Jean, a law student, was considering converting to Judaism (an unproven allegation) before marrying Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, the heiress of a wealthy Jewish family that owned an electronics chain.
Then-editor Philippe Val fired Sine despite his decades-long association with the magazine.
So, the question arises, why do Western publications and politicians so readily indulge in Islamophobic rhetoric and insult the revered personalities of Islam?
It is all a question of power. The West feels it has the power and it considers Muslims to be weak and, therefore, can insult and humiliate them.
The solution to this persistent problem is for Muslims to get united to confront their enemies.
Nobody messes around with those that have power. Period!