No Contradictions In Condemning Charlie Hebdo Murders And Cartoons

I am surprised the report “Latest Charlie Hebdo cover continues to roil Muslim world” (Jan 18, online) asserts that the reaction across the Muslim world was “somewhat contradictory” because Muslims in general condemned both the murders and the cartoons.

There is no contradiction. Condemning the murders is a non-issue, as no sane person would justify such actions, yet it does not mean we must agree with the cartoonists’ actions.

This is not a black-and-white issue; there is room for a nuanced view, which is the position of most Muslims. Killing is unacceptable; so is mocking the faiths of others. Instead of being contradictory, this position is the closest to justice.

The two acts are not equal, no doubt, but neither are both moral. Thankfully, most Singaporeans have never believed in unlimited free speech, especially when it comes to denigrating religion.

Most humans accept that it is vile and vulgar to insult another person’s parents. It would perhaps be instructive to state that Muslims consider our Prophet to be dearer to us than our parents.

So, it is unreasonable to expect us to be comfortable with others mocking him in the name of freedom and satire. Even if we believe in complete freedom of speech, including the freedom to offend, there is no need to laud the people of Charlie Hebdo as martyrs, heroes or the saving grace of humanity, as some have done.

People who believe in complete free speech should defend their right to say what they want without defending what is said, or worse, elevating it to an undeserved status.

They may have a right to say what they want, considering the boundaries French society has set for itself, but that does not make them good humans. Many others have the same right, yet choose to exercise the right to respect, not offend.


Source: Walid Jumblatt Abdullah at

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