A culture that gets provoked by a few drawings is not a culture. Correct! Well said!! But a culture that does not get provoked by abuse is not a culture either. Nor is a culture that loves to provoke through abuse a culture. And those drawings were quite abusive.
It is said that the motive behind those drawings was to disarm. I wonder if this is the right way to disarm. We saw the aftermath of this yesterday.
I have lived in France for one year between 2010 and 2011. That was possibly the best time of my life. I used to work in France telecom as a postdoctoral researcher. I was based in Lannion. I enjoyed my work and I enjoyed France in every possible way I could. France is a great country. I have been to hospitals. I have been to beaches. We used to walk along the river. I befriended people from all over the world. I befriended people who were French and I befriended people who were Pakistanis. We used to have dinners together. And when we were alone we used to contemplate and reflect on how great the western civilization was.
When I was in France, I was always offered halal food. In France Telecom they always had a halal dish. As a matter of fact, when I reached there, my supervisor was already conscious of my Muslim background and offered me halal food to eat. This was a great gesture for me.
My supervisor was a Christian and he wore a locket with a cross in it. I remember that I used to be wearing an amulet with verses from Quran in it. He always spoke to me gently and politely. My opinions were always valued. Other people were also very nice.
When I was leaving, I was given a small farewell party. I was given gifts. The gifts were supposed to remind me about Bretagne. I remember that there was a beautiful hat among them. I have been wearing that hat till lately and I have always loved that. The hat was given to me jokingly by my supervisor as he had taken notice of the fact that due to some reason I was used to wearing hats.
As far as my experience with France, or rest of the Europe is concerned for that matter, I am quite impressed. I consider Europe as my second home and I worry about its safety.
Other than France I have also lived in Denmark and Ireland and have similar feelings for these countries. I received a lot of love and adoration there during my interactions with local people. I believe that ordinary European people are extremely nice.
Insults and weapons do not disarm people, love does. True disarmament requires love and trust. Other means are temporary. You know this. I know this. We all know this. We have seen this in so many movies. This is a universal rule. What happened yesterday in Paris is obviously quite disgusting. However, this has a background behind it as well which is quite obvious too. I am not going to dwell on this event particularly.
The thing is that a lot of people contemplate on the current situation of the world peace. Most of the media attention is normally focused on Islam and Muslims. Stratfor writes quite frequently on the causes and cures of radical Islam and extremism. Pakistan itself is undergoing a full fledged war against extremism right now. Extremism is indeed bad and should be discouraged in whatever way possible. A prosperous future for our world is not possible with extremism. Muslims should realize this possibly more than any other culture.
Muslims should also realize the contribution of the West to the society. Indeed, there are many things that we can learn from the West.
However, there are things that western countries should also realize. It is self evident that abuse invites abuse. Self respect is a give and take phenomenon. And it is important. We cannot expect others to respect us if we have not respected them accordingly. The views, values and opinions of others should be given due respect.
You can expect a person to be gentle if you have abused their father, or worse, mother. As a matter of fact, if you have done so, you have definitely invited a lot of trouble for yourself. Moreover, it is a general part of personal development to learn manners to interact with others and to address others. The very fact that we have salutations to address people is to ensure that we are not violating their self esteem. You cannot go on the birthday party of your friend while presenting him a nude picture of his mother. This is uncivilized by all means. Get ready to be punched in your face. Or worse, killed! God forbid!!
Religious figures are a lot more revered than parents, siblings and loved ones. This is absolutely true for the adherents of that singular religion. If someone casts an aspersion on Jesus Christ (PBUH), he is definitely inviting a lot of trouble from the christian community. Similarly, portraying Ganesh as someone evil can create a lot of turmoil in India. This logic can be extended to all of the religions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is considered as the last prophet of God in Islam. In Islam we consider him among the most pious people who have ever lived. We have similar ideas about Jesus Christ and Moses (PBUH). Portraying him in humiliating cartoons and caricatures really infuriates Muslims.
I believe that this fact is already known to the makers of such cartoons. After all why else would they make such cartoons? They somehow love to poke us. But we get what we sow. If you want to annoy someone, chances are that they would get annoyed. And when they get annoyed enough, they might begin to do silly things. We saw an example of this yesterday in Paris shootings. This might happen again in future as well.
In order to stop such things from happening we would have to bring some common sense into use. The truth is that we would have to learn to constrain our freedom of expression somehow. An abuse can get you a broken jaw. What I just wrote is not a threat or an offence. This is simply common sense.
In the end of faith, Sam Harris yells that what the hell do the Muslims want? He exclaims about that when he reflects on suicide bombings. Suicide bombing and terrorism is obviously bad. But from their vantage point, Muslims react at what they consider unbearable. Such things give rise to butterfly effects.
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