As an Englishman living in France, I wasn’t expecting yesterdays vile events in Paris to have affected me so much, and yet I found myself shedding tears last night, sat with friends discussing their childhood memories of Cabu, Charb et al.
I felt the wave of pain that swept the nation, indeed the world, during the day yesterday, and, in transit through Paris this morning, took time to get as close to the site as I could to lay a small bouquet of flowers on the rapidly increasing pile. Walking through the quieter than usual streets, I could physically feel the hurt felt by my adopted nation.
The revulsion that arrived, and that still remains, was rapidly followed by an instantaneous outpouring of support for freedom of expression, over 12000 people turned up in my local city to pay silent homage to the fallen, those men and women who’s crime was to have printed cartoons.
The entire world appears to have been revolted by this act, solidarity and support came in from all over the globe, I even saw an American politician speaking in French.
And then, of course, one reads Anjam Choudary’s take on things. The barbarous act of terrorism carried out yesterday was one that, to most right minded people, was just that. Not carried out in the name of religion, no matter how many Allahu Akbar’s were shouted, just terrorists. The chief Imam of Paris, although happy to state that he didn’t like or support the magazine Charlie Hebdo, said “they were martyrs for the freedom of expression” and couldnt have condemned the act any more than he did. Mr Choudary, though, has a different take on things, refusing to condemn this act.
The less than right minded people, who already have suspicions of Islam, and Muslims in general, will look at this act yesterday, hear Choudary’s comments and make two plus two to equal five.
There is anti Muslim sentiment in France and in the UK, it would be foolish of anyone to say otherwise. For Choudary, and several other Muslims of lesser repute to not be condemning this act will only engender further unease and mistrust.
As I write this, with tears again not too far away, I can hear the Imam calling the faithful to prayer right outside my window. These are pious, gentle, generous people who have a devout faith, nothing at all to do with those who carried out yesterdays senseless, cowardly attacks.
The drawing of a cartoon should not and should never mean a death sentence for anyone ffs.