‘I’m Charlie / I’m Ahmad – Je Suis Charlie / Je Suis Ahmad’ by Fauzia Rafique

jesuischarlie

If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.’ ― Noam Chomsky

I am Charlie
In protest and condemnation of the slaughter of 10 unarmed journalists of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, their bodyguard, and a police officer, by a faction of religious extremists who were ‘offended’ by the publication’s cartoon depictions of Prophet Mohammad.
Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws are based on this same thinking where hundreds of non-Muslims and Muslims face brutal lynchings and killings each year from militants claiming their religious sentiments were offended.
The perceived inciting of this ‘religious offence’ is given as a valid reason to shoot, kill, behead, stone, burn, drag- other humans.

I am Charlie
To stand with grieving families and friends now facing trauma of the violent killings of loved ones.

I am Charlie
To strengthen and support progressive movements in France and elsewhere so that this incident is not used to further victimize Muslims, immigrants, People of Color, rights activists and other outspoken or vulnerable groups.

I am Charlie
To show solidarity with Vive Charlie Hebdo! to uphold our right to Freedom of Expression.
charliehebdo-cover

I’m Charlie
To challenge the argument that because Charlie Hebdo is seen to be a ‘racist’ publication (or ‘bad’ journalism) feeding into the systemic racism and Islamophobia of French society, we should not be enthusiastic in condemning the killings or going all out in support of the Freedom of Expression movement. This gives me the chills. It reminds me of some of the ‘reasons’ or ’causes’ of rape given to us that are based on the belief that women cause themselves to be raped by wearing provocative clothes or by staying out late at night or any number of things; Or that a child’s playful behavior invites an adult abuser to sexually abuse them. To say that a racist publication was attacked because it purposefully offended religious sentiments of Muslims in France and elsewhere, is actually saying that the victims of violence caused the violence by offending the sentiments of the attackers. Isn’t this the basis of ‘honor’ killings, blasphemy killings, and other hate crimes against women, minorities and under-privileged people in Pakistan? As well, enough victim blaming and shaming happens against underprivileged population groups in Canada. It’s not about the publication or attacked persons nor it is about placing value on them, but fighting the mindset that wants to or needs to annihilate it’s critics.

I’m Charlie / I’m Ahmad
To honor the Muslim police officer who may or may not have been ‘offended’ by Charlie Hebdo but he gave his life defending the journalists.

I am Charlie
To resist and fight the loud echoes in my ‘progressive’ circles scaring people with ‘Islamophobia’ allegations; and, the convoluted thinking of extreme religious fundamentalists who are silencing people by inflicting death.

I am Charlie
To insist on my right to investigate, describe, satirize, humourize and criticize without fear everything that concerns me.

I may detest what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ —Voltaire

Images and some information from PEN American Center‘s facebook and web pages.
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Religion-based Crimes in Pakistan

Religiously motivated crimes are escalating in Pakistan, and new threatening tones can be heard in the voices of religiously motivated criminals and their supporters. Ideas and actions that are in clear contradiction to the UN Charter of Human Rights are being openly propagated and executed; and, violence against women is unashamedly condoned by the elders and lawmakers.

No wonder, Pakistani rights activists and defenders are aghast at the spectrum.

Each religion and each religious grouping exists because its members think that the universal and ultimate truth resides ‘herein’, and the rest of the population is walking the ‘wrong’ path that needs to be ‘corrected’ for the universal good and for their own salvation in the ‘thereafter’. So, in a religious context, the most discriminatory, even violent, ideas and actions are justified, and then projected as admirable and rewarding acts. I was about to cite an example when i realized that i was choosing between the many violent incidents that have happened in Pakistan in the past couple of weeks. I wish to never find myself in a situation of such multiplicity again but clearly we have been furnished last Sunday with some of the classic examples of faith-based crimes by a TV anchor, Dr. Amir Liaquat Hussain in a religious program called ‘Alam (Scholar) Online’.

In a TV broadcast on 7 September 2008, this religious ‘scholar’ with two other cowards ‘declared’ that in accordance with Islamic teachings, the Ahmadi sect members are Wajib ul Qatal ‘Must be killed’ for not believing in the last prophet Mohammad PBUH.
‘Dr. Amir repeated his instruction several times, urging fundamentalists Muslims to kill without fear’. Within 18 hours, a 45 year-old Ahmadi leader in Mirpur Khas, Dr. Abdul Manan Siddiqui was executed with 11 gun shots by six people; he ‘died on the spot’. His private guard and a woman sustained injuries. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) notes
The killers remained at the hospital until the doctor was declared dead, then they walked out of the building’s front entrance. Police registered the killers as unknown‘.
On September 9, Mr. Yousaf, a 75 year-old rice trader and district chief of the Ahmadi sect was killed on his way to the prayer house in Nawab Shah, Sindh.
Yousaf was fired on from people on motor bikes, and sustained three bullet wounds. He died on the way to the hospital. The assailants had taken a route past a police station. No one was arrested‘.
PAKISTAN: TV Anchor Incites Murders of Two People

This is happening amidst threats of acid attacks on women, closures of schools, women being buried and burnt alive for a male concept of ‘family honor’; protectors become perpetrators; and, the worst atrocities in the name of ‘honor’ are being justified and covered up on the basis of tradition.

Still, in my view, Saudi Arabia is way ahead with a Saudi cleric who wants death for TV ‘sorcerers’. Sheikh Saleh al-Fozan told al-Madina daily ‘The Muslim consensus is that the apostate’s punishment is death by the sword’ and ‘Those who call in these shows should not be accorded Muslim rites when they die’; that the purveyors of horoscopes on Arab television should be sentenced to death. This came ‘days after another cleric argued death for TV owners’. Situation in Pakistan however is not as luxurious as for us to be going after horoscope-readers or tv-owners yet because here we are still going after women and minorities; and, within it, the women of lower economic/social status and members of Muslim Ahmadiya community.

Today, Indian Mujahideen killed 20 and injured 100 in Delhi with a series of bomb blasts in the busy commercial centers of the city. And this sad day was made sadder by the news that UK has allowed Muslim clerics to form Shariat Courts and to implement Shariah Laws for Britain’s Muslim communities. ‘The British government has ‘quietly sanctioned’ shariah judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to domestic violence’.
UK’s first official sharia courts

Fauzia Rafiq
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com

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