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January 09, 2015

Charlie Hebdo

Immediately after the murders at the humor magazine Charlie Hebdo's offices in Paris, The Patheos carried James Ford's  Small Rant Against Religious Fundamentalism. Click Here to read it and Click Here for some heartbreaking cartoons from around the world.


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This cover of the New Yorker is priceless.


Within days, two more related violent episodes- Hostages and Police Raids - have occurred in Paris. Meanwhile, the media coverage and discussions continue. Tens of thousands are tweeting their solidarity under the tag #JeSuisCharlie in many languages. Another tag has emerged, to honor the French Muslim cop who was shot dead by the terrorists escaping after the massacre inside the Hebdo office.

On Sunday, there was a nationwide outpouring of grief, solidarity and defiance as people of all ages, religions and nationalities marched along a three-kilometer route en masse to show their respect for the victims and support for the values of the French Republic: “liberté, égalité, fraternité”. It was the first time since the liberation of Paris in August 1944 that so many people - an estimated 3.7 million - took to the streets of the city. Heads of state of several countries were on the front line, right behind the families of the victims. Leaders of all the religions marched behind a banner bearing the slogan “We are Charlie”.

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Violence in the name of religion is as old as organised religion itself. What will be the repercussions of this week's attacks? When something terrible happens, first we run for shelter. Next we re-emerge and seek each other for support.Then comes the urge to go out there to reclaim and protect  what belongs to you. Will The Western countries seriously re-consider their national policies regarding radical Islam and immigration laws?

France has the largest Muslim population - about 5 million - in Europe. No doubt the vast majority of them strongly condemn the massacre; but many find it difficult to identify with Charlie Hebdo who *ridiculed* the Prophet of Islam. There is already a reaction: "Je ne suis pas Charlie" (I am not Charlie). Which direction will their process of assimilation and integration take? Issues of allegiance and loyalty are both visceral and controversial.

The first issue of Charlie Hebdo after last week's terrorist killings in their office is out. It sends out a call to forgive the murderers and at the same time, carries a controversial cover. One European head of goernment commented on the latter: "You may not agree with what they have done, you may be offended by what they have done, but you should defend their right to publish it.” Pope Francis, when asked for his view, said that freedom of speech was a fundamental human right but it came with an obligation. “every religion has its dignity. One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.”.

1 comment:

Marianne de Nazareth said...

I agree with Pope Francis.

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