The beheading of a teacher in Paris by a jihadist is the nth reminder to the entire Muslim community that there is an urgent need for them to introspect and attune their faith to the imperatives of modernism. Also, it is a warning to the intellectual class that their phony doctrines of multiculturalism and Islamophobia are doing more harm than good to Muslim society in particular and human civilization in general.
“The victim is said to have shown controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils. The attacker was shot dead by police,” BBC reported .
“The knife-wielding attacker was shot as officers tried to arrest him in the aftermath of the attack. Police have not released any personal details about him, although French media report he was an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin who was born in Moscow,” the report said.
French President Emmanuel Macron has correctly and categorically termed the decapitation “Islamist terrorist attack.” He said, “One of our fellow citizens was assassinated today because he was teaching, he was teaching pupils about freedom of expression.”
No ifs and buts. No chicanery of ‘murder is bad but we should not hurt the sentiments of other people,’ which is practically tantamount to blaming the victim.
According to the BBC report, “the victim, a teacher of history and geography, had been talking in class about freedom of expression in connection with the Muhammad cartoons, which caused uproar among some Muslims when Charlie Hebdo published them.”
The teacher had reportedly advised Muslim students to leave the room if they thought they might be offended. “Earlier this month, some Muslim parents complained to the school about the teacher’s decision to use one or more of the cartoons as part of a discussion about the Charlie Hebdo trial, French media report.”
Three points need to be made here. First, the arguments that some Muslims in Western countries are involved in terrorist activities because of ‘systemic racism,’ marginalization, poverty, etc., don’t cut much ice with politicians and people. This is evident from Macron’s choice of words—Islamist terrorist attack. He is a mainstream politician, not a representative of what liberals call ‘far-Right.’ It needs to be mentioned here that former US president Barack Obama never used the term ‘Islamic terrorism.’
Second, demands by Muslim fundamentalists that Western nations and societies should conform to the diktats of Shariat are being resisted not just by major politicians like Macron in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands but also by courageous people like the teacher who was slaughtered in Paris.
Finally, non-Muslim communities like the Hindus should also learn a couple of lessons: first, freedom of expression ought to be absolute; and, second, once we start tolerating its erosion, we begin the journey to dystopia. Unfortunately, we began the journey decades ago, with the curtailment of the Fundamental Right to Freedom of Expression in 1951, the very next year of the adoption of the Constitution.
Books have been banned and pulped, movies and songs proscribed and censored, and advertisements withdrawn. We must fight Islamic terror, but we should also be cognizant of the forces and factors that curtail free speech, enhance intolerance, and push us down the slippery slope to dystopia.
As for Islamic terror, it is incumbent upon the thought leaders of the Muslim community—indeed all thought leaders—to take a hard look at the issue. They can begin with jettisoning the phony doctrines are nothing but smoke and mirrors.