Shortly after the news of the savage massacre of the Charlie Hebdo's staff, in Paris, splashed across the network, I said "I am Charlie!" In no uncertain terms I repeated this, in French, "Je suis Charlie" and in Farsi, "من چارلی هستم". But, am I Charlie?
I am not a cartoonist. I do not know how to draw a cartoon. I am very direct, sarcasm and innuendos do not easily penetrate my senses. I am not good at reading between the lines, probably a handy skill for a cartoonist. I do not want to ridicule or mock prophet Mohammad, Jesus, Moses or any personality in history.
The latter is beyond my wish, even if I wanted to ridicule a character in history it is an impossible task. I love to mock Hitler and Stalin but I cannot. I cannot even praise them or for that matter praise Mohammad or Mother Teresa. That is as impossible as ridiculing them. You can only mock or praise a character who is a person, somebody. Historical characters, i.e. characters in the past are not persons. They were persons. At present, at best, they are dust in the wind!
I can mock you and I can praise you. I can mock and praise myself! I can mock your perception of the historical characters. I can laugh at your ridiculous ideas. I can dismiss your fantastic ideas by mocking them. You might become or can become furious, that is what you can do. What I cannot do, it is impossible to do, is to mock dust in the wind. There has to be a person, at present, who is the target of ridicule and mocking.
Does this mean that there is no mocking among the Muslims. Do you think that their minds are all covered up, like their women, so that a mocking idea would not penetrate their views of Islam. Guess again! The best and juiciest jokes about Mohammad, deities, saints, angels, and the supreme commander, Allah, is generated by the mullahs and the Muslim clergy and circulated among themselves. Some seeps out. They are the source of it because they are the ones who know best about all of the sense and the non-sense that they have piled up through the ages. Their jokes are actually mocking themselves. Those are the moments that they hold the mirror up to themselves. I know! I was born and raised in a Muslim country. I am a Muslim, not the kind that might flash through your mind. I am an analyst and a strict supporter of democracy, freedom of thought and expression, first and last.
I do not have a firsthand account of Christianity or Judaism. But, I doubt that it would be much different. The tighter the clerical circle is, the juicier their jokes and the mocking of their own beliefs.
The Muslim apologists, the so called "liberal" circles who have warm and fuzzy feelings for backwardness, the ones who are warning us against "Islamophobia", are they kidding us with their banner of "respect for religion" and "respect for people's beliefs". I am a Muslim, I do not feel disempowered or marginalized because of satire. In Iran I was disempowered and marginalized as many others because of the censorship of satire. I am empowered by freedom of thought and expression in the U.S. Any Muslim who is not embracing the cornerstone of democracy, the unfettered freedom of thought and expression, which includes the right to mock and ridicule, is disempowering himself. Modern society cannot merge with his beliefs by bending its principles. He is the one that needs to learn and to integrate.
The sharpest edge of this democratic right, to mock and ridicule, is against the status quo first and foremost. The status quo in the Middle East and the overwhelming majority of the governments of Muslim countries are more than ever posing themselves as the guardians of "Islam". "Modern" Turkey is doing it, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been leading in this effort. They do not want any mocking of Islam because it is and will be targeted against the status quo. All of them have laws against mocking Islam which in essence is prohibition against mocking the authority which is "guarding" Islam. You cannot disrespect Islam and in a backhanded way disrespect Erdogan in Turkey. You cannot disrespect Islam and the Supreme Leader, Khamenei, in Iran. Both countries have the highest number of journalist and writers in jail. Both have elections, and at the same time unprecedented level of corruption at the highest levels.
I focused on these two most "modern" Islamic countries to show you that there is no fundamental difference among the Islamic societies. Their status quo along with the status quo of the rest of the Islamic countries, they are all fearful of criticism, particularly the most naked form of it, mocking and ridicule through satire and comic. As important as it is, the modernity does not begin with the number of women drivers. The cornerstone of modernity is the freedom of thought and expression. The demand to blunt the sharpest edge of this right, satire, under the banner of accommodating the "marginalized" Muslims is counterproductive and emboldens their jihadists.
Leftists and Muslim apologists, prefer to analyze, partition and split hairs in order to find fault in the Western democracies to justify their support of the "marginalized" Muslims, suffering from satire. But basic principles speak loudly. To side with the most vile, "exploitative" capitalist who respects freedom of thought and expression against the most pious and generous Muslim who opposes satire is the principle thing to do. You cannot partition the first amendment of the U.S. constitution. It has endured the make believe classes of the left and it is sharper and clearer than ever. Just look at the breadth of discussion on the net, saturated by satire.
There was once, centuries ago, some flourishing societies in the Middle East, labeled today as Muslim culture. That era is gone. Whatever achievements those societies have had, they all have been translated and absorbed in the Western culture. It does not belong to the Muslims anymore. The use of those achievements are in the way that they have been absorbed. The dream of glory and a mirage are all that is left for the Muslims and it is not going to get them anywhere.
Is there anything left worth saving that is being rejected by the Western democracies? I see Middle Eastern restaurants in Europe and the U.S. full of patrons. Their cuisine has been absorbed. I see concert halls playing Middle Eastern music and all kinds of fusion music coming out of this interaction. What is there in the Muslim culture that is not being absorbed or ignored that is "marginalizing" them. Oh, yes Western culture is rejecting their treatment of women. It is rejecting cladding women in fabrics in the name of piety. It is rejecting their demand for immunity against satire.
The Western democracy is on the right track. It is the Muslim culture and their leftist apologists who are on the wrong track. Backwardness and tribalism is endemic among the Muslims and it is promoting savagery. There is a civil war raging in the Middle East and parts of Africa to determine if these savages, labeled fundamentalist and terrorists, could find a more permanent foothold and this inter-Muslim conflict is spilling over into Europe and the U.S. We have to go beyond marginalizing that savagery, we have to stamp it out. It is not easy, it is not fast and it will not be painless.
Anywhere I look, the deeper that I look I do not see any marginalization of Muslims as many discussions hold Charlie Hebdo complicit in that effort. Je Suis Charlie!