Thursday, 15 January 2015

Freedom of Respect

The acts of terror that took place in Paris last week were, without any doubt, a disgusting and appalling action by those who have very extreme religious views. Such acts have come in continual flow since the horrors in the U.S. back in 2001.

Although I was never in agreement with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which emanated from the 9/11 attacks, I could see the necessity to try and eradicate the underlying danger. As both wars are apparently now finished, Al-Qaeda has continued, albeit, without Bin Laden, but a new Islamic threat has materialised in ISIS, which only goes to prove that the answer has to be more focused on dealing with 'frame of mind' and the educational understandings than on physical combat.

It is becoming evident that the behaviour of 'The West' has been a large factor in the aggressions.

Many of us, the majority I suspect, are thankful of living in a country which prides itself on 'Freedom of Speech', but, as the old saying goes, "Give 'em an inch and they'll take a yard". What 'The West' appears to have done is, with its pride of freedom, is to forget to ensure that respect is never allowed to dwindle or disappear.

Those who have bothered to investigate and educate themselves on the religion of Islam will, undoubtedly, know that its teachings are ultimately focused on care in the community, caring for the suffering, and on equality. Of course, its teachings are contextual as are those of Judaism and Christianity. We all have to appreciate that, as a society, we have built our own country's culture and judicial system around the scriptures of the faith which once ruled our land. And so it is with other nations. Whether or not we agree with the fundamental principles of another nation's expectations and laws, the people of each nation have, within their own history, chosen the book or teachings which they wished to build their nation on.

Most world religions do not require any respectful behaviour from outside the faith but there are exceptions. In the case of Islam it is well know that to make any attempt at depicting the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is an insult to the entire religion and its community. Most decent people, outside of the faith, wouldn't dream of doing such a thing and causing such a distress because we understand the principles of respect.

In the U.K. and other western nations, there has been a continual slip towards individualism. The result of mixing 'freedom of speech' with individualism is that it becomes far too easy to ignore how other people feel about the things we say and do.

I have no doubt that the staff at Charlie Hebdo feel hurt and angry about what happened to their colleagues last week, but when we want to make a stand against the tyrant we need to think about how we aim our stand at the terrorist and ensure we don't insult or hurt the innocent in the process.

Charlie Hebdo's form of satire reflects 'Freedom of Speech' in print form, and therefore, encourages it's opinion on others, as does any writing, painting, drawing or anything which turns the individual thought, feeling or opinion into visual state. By satirising the Prophet, as means of revenge, they have managed to insult the entire Muslim faith and not just the terrorists. As Al-Qaeda and ISIS see 'The West' as disrespectful and sinful, drawing this as the basis for their crusade, Charlie Hebdo's actions have not just confirmed that opinion but also heightened it. In turn, Charlie Hebdo's actions will, undoubtedly, affect us all in 'The West' in the months and years to come. Alienating a faith which leads over 20% of the world population is naive and encourages the terrorist rather than deter them.

It's time we all started analysing our freedoms and using them responsibly. True Freedom is that which flows with care for our fellow human beings. Instead of focusing on our 'Freedom of Speech' we should be driving the importance of Freedom of Respect.

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