Two years since the Charlie Hebdo massacre and I still refuse to wholeheartedly declare I am Charlie.
Why? Because I believe condemnation of violence does not command us to ideologically align ourselves with the victims. Yes, I am offended by the publication’s mean-spirited vilification of my Islamic faith and fellow Muslims. But, in spite of my hurt feelings, I still cannot find any moral justification for the killings whatsoever. Cynicism has yet to kill my sense of humanity.
If I have to choose a slogan, I would choose I am Ahmed instead. Apart from Ahmed being similar to my last name (albeit with a different spelling), it is also the first name of the Muslim police officer slain by the terrorists. A Muslim died while defending the publication who derided his faith. I cannot see myself enlisting to any law enforcement agencies. But, I should thrive to be just like him, defending everyone’s right to express themselves, no matter how horrendous their thoughts are.
But, some people think my view is not good enough. In fact, people have accused of me supporting the massacre. They believe that my refusal to call myself Charlie makes me an apologist of terrorism. A violence-loving, freedom-hating extremist. I am not sure about you, but I find the accusation blatantly problematic. Hypocritical, to be exact. Hypocritical in various ways.
First, the supporters of Charlie Hebdo love to call themselves freedom lovers because they defend blasphemy. Just like many self-proclaimed freedom-lovers, they try to silence the critics of the blasphemers. How? By smearing, of course. They fail to realise that freedom of speech is a two-way street; it is not a prerogative of the blasphemous ones.
Second, they also see themselves as the humanity-loving. Yeah, no. Their reaction to statements like mine show the complete opposite. They imply that any resemblances other than simply being humans are prerequisite for sympathy. They imply that they would not sympathise with any victims of violence if they are different from them. Humanity-loving my ass.
I just realise something. Besides the slandering and two-facedness, Charlie Hebdo supporters are also guilty of something else: glorification. Actually, glorification is such a soft word. Idolatry is more like it.
Somehow, its staff getting massacred makes them worthy of worship. Somehow, that tragedy makes it the most honourable publication in the world. Getting killed by extremists instantly makes you a hero. Yeah, again, no.
Should I even bother to dismantle this faulty logic? If you are assassinated because your works count as activism, you die a hero! If you are assassinated because you were being offensive just because you could, you don’t die a hero! Not every victim of acts of inhumanity is virtuous. Harsh, but true to life. Do you seriously believe being a victim elevates your moral standing? Your morality is defined by how you treat others, not the other way around.
Okay, I need to end this soon this before I give my detractors more dishonest ammunition.
Once again, I still condemn the killing. But, I am still not Charlie and probably never will. It does not negate my condemnation of the violence. In fact, it shows my sincerity. It shows how I still have a sense of humanity for anyone, even for people I deeply loathe.