The trial of a dozen French Muslims, accused of complicity within the Charlie Hebdo killings, has began. The French creative elite repeat their mantra: “Calm down: it’s only satire.” However why ought to we not take this style severely?
Humor and mockery are highly effective class weapons, particularly when used to demean the unvoiced and inarticulate, the multitudes who’ve little or no safe different sources of self-respect and dignity aside from their bare id as human beings. To ridicule such individuals is hardly a noble ambition.
We be aware with remorse the persevering with impasse between Muslim values and people of extremist French secularists. This controversy about freedom of speech shall endure; at coronary heart, it’s concerning the quest for competing genuine identities in the identical civic public area. Sadly, some fanatics have chosen a personality assassination of the Prophet Muhammad with a view to pursue this in any other case noble aim.
An absolute and illiberal laïcité (state-sanctioned secularism) forbids Muslims to hunt an honorable lodging with the highly effective and unjust forces working of their land of chosen citizenship. France, a western pluralist democracy, refuses to make amends for the wrongs of its previous imperialism, whose legacy contains persevering with financial deprivation for tens of millions.
If we’re to stay collectively in peace and with dignity we can’t enable a bunch of fanatical artists on the Charlie Hebdo workplaces to dictate aesthetic style. Indulging a dictatorship of vulgarity below the guise of so-called creative values suffocates rather more pressing and bonafide issues about the best way to lead good lives amongst these with completely different and even opposed secular and Christian consciences.
French Muslims should respect the consciences of secular humanists who uphold ethical values that battle with some Islamic values, whereas French policymakers have to abandon the immodest view that their fashion of secularism is one of the best. Why ought to fashionable Muslims bear the burden of French historical past?
Laïcité is illiberal of range. The onus is now on policymakers. Can they stay as much as the calls for of their historical past because it has developed to reach at this deadly stalemate? Are the French prepared for democracy? Can they permit a voice to their six million Muslim residents? Charlie Hebdo tragedy ought to educate us to progress collectively towards actually inheriting liberté, égalité, fraternité for all residents, not just for the creative elite. Ethical progress in cultures just isn’t achieved by way of distorting the self-image of a despised minority — and substituting a false and insulting revisionist account of their origins. Religions have communal vanity. Their adherents may be wounded.
Cambridge-trained thinker on the School of Theology and Religions, the College of Oxford and the writer of forthcoming e-book Be Cautious with Muhammad! (Bijak Publishing, Jakarta, October 2020)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on this article are these of the writer and don’t replicate the official stance of The Jakarta Publish.