Is It Freedom of Expression or Freedom of Islamophobia?
By: Raneem Ghunaim/Arab America Contributing Writer
Is it really freedom of expression or are you justifying humiliating and belittling Islam?
For decades the peaceful religion of Islam was seen as a threat by many. Several harmful and inconsiderate actions have been done in hopes of terrorizing the religion along with its people. Islam is nothing but a peaceful religion, and that is something that many Muslims and non-Muslims proudly agree with.
Despite the above sentiment, many still ask themselves why is Islam so hated? Here is an example that might be the answer to that question:
On October 16, 2020, 47-year-old Samuel Paty who worked at the College du Bois d’Alene in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, taught both geography and history. He was attacked and eventually beheaded by an angry 18-year-old, who moments later was shot by the police. His aggressive denounced, and inhuman actions led to many people talking and pointing fingers.
What Caused This Incident?
Prior to Paty’s death, he showed a picture of Prophet Mohammad to his students during a lesson, claiming this was a way of expressing his “freedom of expression.” Before showing his students this image, he advised his Muslim students to leave the room if they might feel offended. This indicated that he knew what he was doing and that it could be construed as offensive, but did it anyway.
In Islam, just like any other religion, there are certain figures that are looked up upon and highly respected. In this case, it is Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). It is forbidden to create a drawing of him. In this particular case, the image depicted of the prophet was allegedly a nude drawing of him, and this created more of an uproar amongst the Muslims in France.
Paty’s religion has not been stated. His killer’s religion was announced immediately, though. This is how perpetuating Islamophobia continues.
Never-Ending Cycle of Racism and Islamophobia
Hours after people marched in Paris on behalf of Samuel Paty, two Muslim women were attacked and repeatedly stabbed by two French women who shouted out, “Dirty Arabs!” and “”Go home to your own country!” This attack left one of the victims with a punctured lung while the other needed surgery on both her hands.
The attackers are in custody and were charged with attempted murder. However, their names were not put out to the public, but they were described as, “being White women of European appearance.”
This was an act of violence and true hatred. Only an extremist would be willing to do such a horrific act ,yet, notice how not a single headline stated anything about those two women’s religious affiliation. Notice how President Macron did not call those women who committed the crime “extremist.” Notice how he did not tie down a religion with their action. But why was Macron so quick to vilify Islam?
President Macron’s Statement
As showed above, President Macron gave his statement on this horrific incident at 0:40 he stated, “Our compatriot was flagrantly attacked, he was a victim of an Islamist terrorist attack.” Was it necessary? Was adding Islamist terrorists really that important? Was it a key factor in this crime? Macron is certainly not one to be pointing fingers and calling people terrorists.
On October 25, 2020, President Macron tweeted the following in Arabic:
“We will not give in, ever. We respect all differences in a spirit of peace. We do not accept hate speech and defend reasonable debate. We will always be on the side of human dignity and universal values.”
Yet he stayed silent on the attack of the two Muslim women.
After President Macron’s statement, several Arab and Muslim countries started to boycott French products. This massive and sudden boycott resulted in France losing about 28 billion dollars in just the first day, and the numbers are increasing by the day.
Turkey announced on Monday that they will fully boycott all French products and remove them from their markets.
Qatar announced that they will postpone “French Culture Week” at Qatar University because of the deliberate attack on Islam. It is also important to note that Qatar has a lot of food distribution companies who have announced that they will be removing French products off the shelves.
Kuwait announced that French cheese, such as La Vache Qui Rit and Babybel, have been taken off their store shelves. In addition, many Kuwaiti travel agents have reportedly suspended reservations for their flights to France.
Many other countries such as Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Morrocco, and Syria, to name a few, have all joined the boycott as well. According to several sources, the Foreign Minister of France have appealed to Arab Nations to take immediate steps to end the boycott of its products, as this boycott is costing them billions.
One Person’s Actions Shouldn’t Be Used To Define a Whole Religion
What that 18-year-old did was beyond inhuman; it is an act that is forbidden in Islam, to begin with. No one is defending his horrific actions. In Islam, he would not be considered Muslim after what he did. However, it is time world leaders took a break from blaming an entire religion on one sick person’s awful actions. I don’t see criminals of other faiths represented by their religions, so why do they do it for Islam?
When President Macron says, “Islamist terrorists,” he is spiking hatred amongst different groups of people. He is embedding fear amongst French citizens, and citizens of the world in general. Next time someone commits a crime, let’s not act like the person and their acts represent the whole religion. It’s not fair to Muslims who are innocent and are productive citizens of France.
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