Whilst the world focuses on the Charlie Hebdo killings, a far more calamitous chapter of European history is unfolding, writes Dilly Hussain.
Within 12 hours of the shooting outside the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris, which resulted in the death of 10 journalists and two policemen, #KillAllMuslims started trending on Twitter.
The perpetrators were heard by witnesses shouting “Allahu Akbar” and “Prophet Muhammad has been avenged,” in relation to the derogatory cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (saw) published by the controversial weekly magazine.
World leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, echoed President Francois Hollande’s sentiments in describing Wednesday’s shooting as a “barbaric attack on liberty and freedom of speech.”
As expected, many Muslim leaders and organisations that have been “condemning terrorism” since 9/11 went out of their way to do what they do best – to apologise for a crime that had absolutely nothing to do with them. Embarrassingly, many have even jumped onto the #IAmCharlieHebdo bandwagon, forgetting that this was a magazine that published pornographic images of Muhammad (saw).
The Charlie Hebdo incident was an act of murder, but one that was provoked, and no one should shy away from stating this fact. Many analysts and commentators, both from the right and the left, have conflated Muslim critique of the concept of “right to offend” with condoning the murder of journalists. This is obviously a cheap and convenient trick for muscular liberals, who are fully aware of the damaging nature of this principle in society.
It amazes me how Muslim liberals and seasoned apologists have fallen for the honey trap laid by Western governments who wage illegal wars, prop up brutal dictators, and commit the most horrific crimes on a macro level under the banner of “democracy”, are parroting the narrative that the Charlie Hebdo shooting was an attack against freedom of speech, and linked to an extreme “Islamist ideology“. Rather, it is Western leaders who are referring to this incident as an attack on liberalism, in an effort to validate their ideological conflict with Islam.
Freedom of speech
If #KillAllMuslims wasn’t an indication of the climate in which Muslims find themselves in at the dawn of 2015, numerous magazines and publications in the US, France and the UK reprinted the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad as a defence of free speech. British cartoonist, Martin Rowson told the BBC that the best way to respond to those who oppose free speech in the form of satirising religion should be: “laughed back to the dustbins of history where they belong.” Quite an ironical statement considering that absolute freedom of speech, which does not exist in practice anywhere, was never the default universal position in human history. Respect, honour, and considering others’ sensitivities were always the default position.
The liberal outlook of many Western journalists and comedians who have the licence to insult God, Prophets, Messengers, and religious figures with impunity will only create an atmosphere of social decadence.
Doctors, lawyers, teachers, law enforcement officers, and civil servants are expected to carry out their work professionally with due care.
However, the lack of professionalism and sensitivity displayed by journalists, comedians, and cartoonists demonstrates the inconsistent practice of free speech.
Additionally, the existence of defamation, treason, public disorder, holocaust denial, and race laws is further proof of the flawed concept of freedom of speech, and the right to offend.
Whilst Muslim leaders’ tap dance to their governments’ narrative, they remain oblivious to a far more sinister reality taking root in the form of a mainstream Islamophobic culture in Europe, that could possibly materialise into a violent systematic Inquisition.
The coming of the second Inquisition
2014 marked the peak of Islamophobia, and the rise of the far-right in Europe. The right wing “Europe of Freedom and Democracy” (EFD) bloc within the EU continues to expand, led by our very own Nigel Farage of UKIP.
The rise of the far-right has been covertly facilitated by the hysteria created by mainstream political parties, and the media, which has made Islam and Muslims synonymous with terrorism, extremism and fanaticism. This growing culture of anti-Muslim prejudice has led to numerous attacks against Muslims (mainly women), and places of worship in Europe.
Within the space of a week, three mosques in Sweden were fire bombed by arsonists amid tensions over the country’s immigration debate.
In Austria, violent attacks against Muslims in public have been frequent, including one that led to an elderly woman suffering a spinal injury in broad daylight outside a bank.
France’s crusade against Muslim women wearing the niqab continues as it refuses to even acknowledge the existence of Islamophobia, whilst the rise of the French National Front forces Muslim children to either “eat pork or starve“.
Greek farmers were cleared for shooting 28 Bangladeshi strawberry pickers. Whilst many have argued that this was not linked to race or religion, it would have been interesting to know what the punishment would have been if roles were reversed.
Numerous mosques have been desecrated and vandalised in Poland, which has become somewhat a norm in Europe.
In Belgium, a young Moroccan mother escaped death when she was rammed by a car, as the driver shouted racist abuse at her for wearing the hijab.
Besides the Pegida protests in Germany, and the mosque arson attacks in Sweden, all the aforementioned incidents in Europe just about made into non-mainstream news sites. This is taking into consideration that Islamophobic hate crimes are majorly under-reported out of fear of backlash, and a genuine lack of faith in the judicial system to adequately punish the perpetrators.
As for Britain, it is slowly but surely shifting towards becoming a neo-Stasi police state, especially in light of home secretary Theresa May’s proposed Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill (CTS). The CTS bill could possibly be the most damaging piece of legislation for the British Muslim community as draconian measures such as spying on toddlers, censoring dialogue at universities under the guise of ‘preventing extremism’, the confiscation of passports, revoking citizenship, interception of personal mail become state policy. The unprecedented rise of the UK Independent Party (UKIP) during a climate of Islamophobia, has forced the Tories to reveal their true colours on policies relating to Europe, immigration, and counter-terrorism.
As the wider non-Muslim community’s suspicion, distrust and hatred towards Muslims worsens, it is an undeniable fact that the state of Europe’s largest religious minority is facing an existential threat, and the possibility of a quasi-inquisition in the future would not be a far-fetched nightmare.