It was a moving thing to see so many international political dignitaries joining the two million strong crowd that gathered in Paris, France last Saturday to demonstrate their support for free speech, and their strong condemnation of terrorism. If I were in Paris last Saturday I would have joined the crowd too.
I am wholeheartedly for freedom of speech and against terrorism of any kind and origin. But I have to ask: How honest are we when we voice our commitments to freedom? And how much are we selective and politically prejudiced in our commitments to stand up to terrorism without bias?
About one week ago Boko Haram slaughtered 2000 innocent people in Nigeria, many of them children and elderly. The crime, although massive in its extent, was unnoticed by most mainstream media for almost a week, although some less prominent media shared the news almost immediately. In what way was the mass murder of 2000 people in Nigeria less newsworthy than the terrorist attack in Paris?
Over the past several months some faith based organizations and churches have been calling public attention to the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini who has spent the last two years in an Iranian prison only because he is a Christian. But their efforts to free the imprisoned pastor have been largely unheeded. I am not aware of any significant public support rallied for Pastor Abedini so far?
Not long ago a video became available online with a testimony of Reverend Andrew White, the vicar of Baghdad, about his Iraqi parishioners murdered by IS only because they were Christians. Reverend White shared a moving story about the children who were slaughtered because they would not recite the conversion mantra, but instead they said: “We love Yeshua (Jesus). We have always loved Yeshua.” I am not aware of any significant public outcry against the murderers of the innocent children, nor has the video reveling the vicious killing of the children gone viral.
I doubt we will see large crowds joining demonstrations on the streets of our capitals when a group of coldblooded killers crucify, behead or shoot the next group of Christian “infidels” just because they are Christians, or another group of Muslim “infidels” just because they are Muslims of a different kind?
I wonder what would be the most likely response in the civilized West if a group of Christian publishers decided to print urgently three million Bibles, out of spite, as a statement with a special dedication, a way of expressing their support for freedom of speech, as soon as the next Christian village somewhere in Africa is wiped out in a bloody terrorist attack? How many would be willing to support this or similar acts of demonstration against terrorism? Or would we sooner hear calls to calm and restraint, and invitations to do nothing that would provoke and offend?
Then, how come printing of three million copies of a magazine that is know for its history of distasteful obscene provocation, mocking and insulting of everything that matters to people left and right – their religion, race, ethnicity, has suddenly become a beacon of liberty and freedom worldwide? Even Henri Roussel, one of the founders of Charlie Hedbo, stated that the magazine “overdid” in its provocations. At the same time the free world is applauding the heroism of the deceased cartoonists.
Someone said: “The world is like a drunken man riding a horse. He will fall of the hours one side or another.” Just because an awful crime took place that took the lives of the editors and cartoonists of Charlie Hedbo, something that must be condemned in the strongest way, that does not mean that its mission of mockery represents the most profound statement of demonstration against terrorism and protection of free speech.
We are living in the world of seriously twisted and hypocritical values indeed if printing millions of copies of the latest edition of Charlie Hedbo has, “accomplished more miracles of all the saints and prophets united” (the words of its editor) in the struggle for our freedoms; at the time when in different places, almost every day many lives are lost in similar and more horrifying circumstances – unnoticed, ignored, undermined, underreported, or brushed under the carpet of political correctness.
Let us grieve over the lost lives in the Paris terror attack. Let us stand up to terrorism of any kind. Let us defend the freedom of speech. But let us not give a credit there where it is not due; for the sake of those who are genuine heroes and genuine victims in the struggle for a better world.