After learning about the gunmen who shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 and seeing media reports identifying the gunmen as Islamist militants (presumably because it is reported that witnesses heard them shouting “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “God is Great” in Arabic), I experienced many emotions at the same time.
I felt sad that people lost their lives in such a horrific manner; families lost their loved ones; and people lost their friends or colleagues. I also felt very angry that there are people in the world who are bent on carrying out such evil. Then shame set in. I was ashamed as a Muslim to hear that the gunmen were identified as “Islamist militants.” This is not the first time that terrorist acts in recent history have been committed by so called “Islamist militants.” But each time I hear in the media terroristic activities associated with Islam or carried out in the name of Islam or in defence of Islam, I am confused. I am confused because I grew up as a Muslim and in my Muslim upbringing I was not once exposed to the brand of Islam that these so called “Islamist militants” are practising. My Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and forgiveness. My Islam teaches love, concord, sympathy and kindness to one’s fellow men – not killing people for practising their freedom of expression or speech.
I may not care for the cartoons Charlie Hebdo publishes, but I can unreservedly say that there is no justification in my Islam for the killings carried out by the gunmen. Their actions are indefensible under any interpretation of Islam and contrary to the teachings of the Prophet.
I chose to believe that anyone who carries out such acts as the gunmen did is part of a fringe group with a very misguided interpretation of Islam. They do a great disservice to the Muslim community at large. The overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide are peace loving and as peace-loving Muslims, it is incumbent on us and our leaders to openly speak out and condemn the actions of these gunmen and others like them whenever they arise. It is incumbent on us to educate not only the non-Muslim but also the Muslim communities that “real” Muslims do not carry out such indefensible acts.
Shafik Bhalloo, Vancouver
via Letters: What now? The Charlie Hebdo shooting and its aftermath.
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I apreciate reading your article and could nor agree more with what you have portrayed.
Their is a small group of extremists whether they be Muslims, Christian, Jews who are bent to interpret their scriptures to lead to sensless violence.
It seems we need to present the value of pluralism in its true essence where we can accept our differences, yet be, able to sit together and debate the issues important to each person, Community, and nation without falling into the historical trap of undue violence of words and actions which results in the loss of life of innocent men and women, all children of the Divine.
It would seem we need to promote true in pluralism where we can respect each others differences