Charlie Hebdo; Freedom vs Violence

Tariq Ramadhan, a European Muslim scholar, once met Stephane Charbonnier, the editor of Charlie Hebdo, who was killed during the attack on January 7. Tariq, who was born in Geneva, Switzerland, is a professor in Oxford University. He is also a grandson of Hassan Al Banna, the founder of Ikhwanul Muslim. In his article in The Guardian, he explained his experience during debate with the cartoonist Charb. He respected Charb's freedom of expression, including rejecting any kind of censorship. However, Tariq reminded him that he had to be clear about the way he was using that right.

Tariq mentioned that Charlie Hebdo fired a cartoonist in 2008. The cartoonist made a joke about a Jewish link to President Sarkozy's son. "When it comes to freedom of expression, there are limits, not everything can be said. The double standard is troubling," Tariq said.

Tragedy. That's what happened in Charlie's office. 12 people died because of the attack, including a Muslim police, Ahmad Murabith. The terrorist attack attracted global attention. Sympathy towards the victims, including to Charlie, was immediately overflowing. Condemn towards terrorists and their savage behavior also emerged. Social media was also filled with hashtag #NotAfraid, #JeSuisCharlie, #JeSuisAhmed and also #JeNeSuisPasCharlie.

Charlie Hebdo; Freedom vs Violence

Among the hashtags, the one that appeared most was #JeSuisCharlie. The creator is Joachim Roncin who works for the French edition of Stylist. Roncin is a music and movie journalist. The hashtag was made an hour after the event. "I was so speechless," he said. However, the appearance of #JeSuisAhmed and #JeNeSuisPasCharlie was not without reason. They offered sympathy to the victims as well as condemn terrorism. But they didn't want to be identical with Charlie. They thought that the magazine insulted the belief and feeling of people. The magazine does not only make a parody of Islam and Prophet Muhammad PBUH, but also other religions, such as Christian and Catholic. It also ridicules Pope, the highest leader of Catholic, and others.

In this situation, Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League stated that Muslims Are Right to Be Angry. Meanwhile, all Islamic leaders in the world, including Tariq, condemn terrorism act in Paris. However, almost every Muslim in the world cannot accept the insult from Charlie. The office has received several threats. It was even bombed. Therefore, France give special security for Charlie. Charb once said, "I have neither a wife nor children, not even a dog. But I'm not going to hide." Charb was a truly brave freedom believer. Charb forgot that Charlie's freedom violated someone's belief. It appeared in social media. A netizen, quoting Voltaire, said, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

US media chose not to republish the insulting cartoons. However, many media in European countries republished the cartoons, in the name of news. Some intentionally republished the image as a fight towards terror and any kinds of censorship. Besides freedom, European countries basically have the monolithic history. It is different from US which has been plural since the beginning, so is Indonesia. Plurality gives different feeling. There are sensitivity and tolerance.

We remember how a newspaper from Denmark, Jyllands Posten, in the name of freedom, published a chain of cartoons insulting Prophet Muhammad PBUH. It created protests and demonstrations everywhere in the world. However, Charlie continued to republish. The Jyllands Posten's cartoon killed 200 people. It is possible if someone said that people were not ready to have different opinion. It is possible to say that terrorism is insulting the Prophet more than they do, including Charlie.

Such discussion emerged in coffee stall. In social media, it is like continuous line, even harder. They are insulting each others. Never ending debate between liberalism and fundamentalism. Every thinker must discuss the matter beyond the surface. A Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, in his article in NewStatesman, said, "It is the right moment to gather the courage to think." Zizek pointed out liberalism. He asked, "So what about the core values of liberalism: freedom, equality, etc?". He criticized Liberalists. He ended his article by quoting Max Horkheimer: Those who do not want to talk critically about capitalism should also keep quiet about Fascism. Zizek applied the statement to today's fundamentalism: those who do not want to talk critically about liberal democracy should also keep quiet about religious fundamentalism.

British sociologist, Anthony Giddens, reminded the rise of fundamentalism, not only religious fundamentalism but also gender and ecology fundamentalism. In his book, he recorded that fundamentalism appeared in late 1950s in Oxford dictionary. It is relatively new. "Fundamentalism is the use of ritual truth to deny dialogue actively and therefore isn't limited to the area of religion. Fundamentalism is dangerous because it is always edged with the possibility of violence." However, Giddens does not only condemn fundamentalism. He also said, just like Zizek, "Enlightenment has run out the energy. What we need is a new enlightenment. We live in damaged world which need radical improvement."

The modern era is born from Enlightenment in Europe during Medieval, which adopts enlightenment in Islamic civilization. Giddens said that we needed new enlightenment. "Radical politics cannot be satisfied with radical neoliberal." Yes. Neoliberal praises market power and individualism, just like what Charb thought.

It is time for the East to shine the West. We reject insulting, degrading and humiliating freedom. If the contrary, like Zizek said, they don't have the right to criticize religious fundamentalism because they never understand. Global civilization is mutual, not one way. There are dialogue and openness. There is intercultural equality, not like a story of Robinson Crusoe who sees civilization outside the West must be conquered. We have to respect each other, trust each other and be tolerance. That is the healthy press in the new era, an era when every culture interacts peacefully and equally.

This article originally appeared in : Charlie Hebdo; Freedom vs Violence | | By: Nasihin Masha | Wednesday, 28 January 2015, 15:34 WIB

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