A month and a bit after the Paris attacks, weeks after the murder of the French-Moroccan Mohamed El-Makouli who was stabbed 17 times, in the presence of his wife and child, whose attacker shouted out “I am your Islam, I am your god”. The murder of Khaled Idris Bahreys, an Eritrean asylum seeker in Germany, the 50+ attacks on Muslims, mosques and asylum seeker homes, the 40+ arrests in a supposed war on terrorism, it is difficult to make sense of it all. To find your place in the coverage this past month after #IamCharlie.
Because if you are not #IamCharlie, then you are #CharlieCoulibaly and are “one of them terrorists”, to be locked away and robbed of your freedom of speech. This binary of Bush’s “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists”, is toxic it leaves no space for the free speech, that everyone seems to be standing up for.
In his controversial music video “Don’t Laïk”, the French-Algerian Rapper Médine slams the French form of secularism “Laïcité”, as a perversion of it. One that disadvantages the religious in society and especially those of Muslim faith these past few years. Post Revolution France re-built on the values of egalité, liberté and fraternité has in the face of globalization turned universalism and secularism, to an us and them. Laïcité was about reducing the power that the church had in France, what power do Muslims have in France to continually disadvantage them? Today either one assimilates totally and in the process loses ones identity and culture or one is not part of France. The Other isn’t tolerated and when one reads the coverage and papers over the last few years, Laïcité has almost become a religion to be revered and secularist fundamentalists have taken over. John Hanford, a US ambassador for international religious freedom, differentiates between the American and French systems of secularism and said: “In France, wearing a hijab is considered anti-French. In America it would be considered anti-American to force someone to take it off.” (interesting article)
Médine in my opinion, added to the discussion on laïcité becoming a form of persecution. Not only in releasing his video, but having discussions on the topic beforehand. This too is freedom of speech. France has been having this debate over laïcité and Islam for over a decade, maybe the other side isn’t being listened too.
It is difficult to raise concerns over what seems to be a majority opinion, the public opinion, and that is why reporters such as the reporteurs citoyen are so important.
Yourope episode on Arte.tv in German [Yourope in French]
At the same time as I oppose the calls for Muslims to distance themselves from violence every time someone supposedly does it in the name of Allah, I do as a human being and as a Muslim reject all kinds of injustices no matter who the perpetrators are. This is in line with what Allah (swt.) asks of us in the Qur’an.
“O you who believe! Be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness of Allah’s sake, though it may be against your own selves or your parents or near relatives; if he be rich or poor, Allah is nearer to them both in compassion; therefore do not follow (your) low desires, lest you deviate; and if you swerve or turn aside, then surely Allah is aware of what you do.” [4:135]
Senseless violence and terrorism has no place in Islam. It is the angels that asked Allah (swt.) about creating a creation that will shed blood on earth. He however knows that which we do not.
And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.” [Surah Al-Baqarah : verse 30]