The killing of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris is an act that should be condemned in the strongest terms.
Regardless of the provocation by this magazine in insulting marginal population groups including Africans, immigrants and Muslims, this act of violence must be unequivocally condemned.
Whoever the attackers were, and whatever their cause may be, their brutal killings can never be justified.
The appropriate response to such abhorrent attacks is not to vilify any faith or nationality, but instead to recommit ourselves to upholding the value and sanctity of human life and redouble our efforts to establish equitable communities based on mutual respect, common dignity and social justice.
Lampooning the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is not new in our history, only the methods have changed: instead of words we now have pictures. This has happened throughout history without diminishing the status of our Prophet in our eyes, nor in the eyes of those who seek fairness and truth. In fact this act of violence and murder does more harm to the image of our Prophet than the crude, puerile satire employed by Charlie Hebdo and their ilk.
The world is standing by those killed from the magazine and defending the notion of freedom of speech. Nobody sadly is defending the right to dignity that Muslims seek.
One act of solidarity that has been employed by some media and is being intended by others is to republish the offensive cartoons against the Prophet.
While being provocative, the intention is to assert freedom of expression, without considering the hurt it would cause to Muslims. Notwithstanding that, we are forewarned that this is going to happen.
We therefore implore the Muslim community not to react to these acts of provocation but rather to ignore them.
Since these are intended to provoke, if we do the opposite we diminish their effect. We therefore urge all Muslims to not engage with such cartoons either publicly or privately, lest it begins to dominate our conversations, enrage opinion and cause unintended consequences.
Let us find inspiration in the twitter campaign protesting the killings#JeSuisAhmed – I am Ahmed. Ahmed Merebet was a French Muslim police officer, who was one of the twelve people killed in the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo. One twitter message captures Ahmed’s tragic death aptly. It reads as follows: “I am not Charlie, I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie ridiculed my faith and culture, and I died defending his right to do so.”
Our thoughts, prayers and sincere condolences are with the families and loved ones of those killed or injured in this ruthless and cowardly attack. Rashied Omar
For and on behalf of the CMRM Board of Governors