Dr. Pritam Rohila : The January 7 attack with Kalashnikov rifles, by Che’rif and Said Kouachi, on the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, which led to death of 17 individuals, was a dastardly act!
Many journalists have rightly condemned the assault, in their commentaries and editorials. Also vigils, demonstration, rallies and marches have been held, at numerous places around the world, to denounce it and its perpetrators.
Apparently the Kouachi brothers and their associates, Ahmed Coulibaly and Hayat Boumeddiene were French citizens, but of Muslim faith. They had connections with ISIS and al-Qaida extremists.
With their carnage, they claimed to be avenging the Prophet Mohammed, who had been depicted in Charlie Hebdo, with a hooked nose, naked, and on all fours.
The caricature of the Prophet must have infuriated many other Muslim readers of Charlie Hebdo. But none of them, except the four attackers, acted upon their rage. At least some of them might have known that the Quran does not require any punishment for blasphemy, although it has been used by some, as an excuse to penalize those accused of it, with severe punishment, including death.
But while we are quite justified in condemnation of the attackers, we cannot disregard that the Charlie Hebdo cartoon was indeed offensive. I am sure the right to freedom of expression does not make it less disgusting.
We do not allow our children to use cuss words, to bully or to beat up others, especially who are weaker than them. We do not approve of individuals, who display pornographic material, or engage in pornographic acts, publicly.
Students have been censored and professors have been fired for engaging in hate speech and other “inappropriate” acts, on university and college campuses.
Then, I wonder, if under the pretext of freedom of expression, journalists should be allowed to offend our weaker and minority communities, just for the sake of offending, insulting or bullying them.
In all fairness journalists should not be allowed to disrespect sensibilities of others, who are different from them, just to provoke hate and anger in them.
Also why is it, that a Muslim, who commits a terrorist act, is identified by the media as a “Muslim terrorist”, when they do not label other terrorists by their religions.
Finally incidents like this, require us all to introspect on the phenomenon of home-grown terrorists. What leads some of our citizens, to engage in terrorism? Also it would help identify differences, if any, in factors in the USA, which lead individuals from minority communities as opposed to the majority community, to terrorism.__
Dr. Pritam Rohila is a retired Neuropsychologist and Executive Director of Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA).