Charlie Hebdo shooting – Time to draw red lines on freedom of speech

Muslims came under scrutiny after the Charlie Hebdo attacks

When certain boundaries are crossed, it is too late to shout “freedom of speech” as a justifiable defence, writes Bilal Abdul Kareem.

The office of Charlie Hebdo, a French magazine was the scene of a bold attack earlier today, which resulted in the death of 10 journalists, two policemen, eight wounded, and four in critical condition. French President Francois Hollande said, “We need to find the actors of this terrorist act.”

Charlie Hebdo magazine was the home of cartoonists who portrayed the Prophet Muhammad (saw) in a satirical fashion. Some of the images were of him naked and in pornographic poses.

It is too early to comment on the actual situation as the attackers managed to escape, and therefore no motive has been made clear as of yet. However, I do believe it must be born in mind that depicting such images of the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus, Musa, or other than them will raise the ire of Muslims, Christians and Jews alike.

There is a line that once it is crossed can result in people getting hurt. It is possible that this is one of those situations.

One analyst mentioned that Charlie Hebdo’s doctrine was that no one is beyond criticism and humour. However depicting Prophets and Messengers from anyone’s religion in pornographic poses and humiliating fashion crosses the line. Big time. All of the “democracy” and “freedom of speech” slogans are not going to change that.

I have to realise that if I drive up to a church and do unsightly things to a cross, I would have to assume that it is very likely that one of the church goers might respond in a bad way.

If I then try to cry “democracy” and “freedom of speech” just as I’m getting knocked over the head, is that call really genuine? Can I shout “FIRE!” in the middle of a crowded theatre and watch the people trample one another for my personal entertainment as they try to run out and then say I am just exercising my right to freedom of speech?

Apparently there was an image of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi that was tweeted out just hours before the attack.

The attackers escaped so it seems possible they may have studied escape routes and other details of the area which may lead us to believe the attack was planned before those tweets were sent out.

However details at this time are still sketchy and we will be waiting for updates.



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