This past Wednesday, two terrorists killed 12 people and injured scores more at Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper. It has caused a wave of condemnation from various Muslim groups and the broader Muslim community.
We will not allow our religion to be hijacked by extremists that justify the murder of innocent people.
Although we take offense to the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, this attack cannot be justified in the name of Islam. Freedom of speech and Islam are not incompatible. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions had to emigrate from their hometown of Mecca to Medina because they didn’t have the freedom to proclaim their faith in one God. They were persecuted simply based on the beliefs they held.
When they arrived in Medina, the prophet and his companions built a mosque. A local man entered the holy place and started urinating in front of the Prophet and his companions during prayers. He was not killed, however. The Prophet (peace be upon him) prevented his companions from doing any harm to the man and explained that this was a holy place that must be respected. The man later accepted Islam.
This is the pluralism and tolerance that made the Islamic civilization one of the largest the world has ever seen. Terror groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State claim to be reviving the golden age of Islam, but Islam is not a religion of vengeance and war as extremists and critics of the religion suggest. The terrorists that committed this act claim to be defending the honor of the prophet and the faith of Islam as a whole, but this kind of violence is senseless and shames Muslims. The Qu’ran says to be patient towards what non-Muslims say even if they insult your religion.
The deaths at Charlie Hebdo cannot become an excuse for far right politicians in Europe to discriminate against the growing Muslim community and spread xenophobia, alienating immigrant communities and ultimately contributing to support for radical groups.
Muslims, Jews and people from all over the world march in Paris against terrorism and in favor of freedom of speech.