John Menadue. If I were a Muslim…

The brutality and assasination of the editors and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo must be condemned. Those responsible must face and perhaps have faced the full consequences.

But if I were a Muslim, I would have been offended by the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. They were not a critique of Islam but gratuitous insults. I expect my Christian faith to be respected. Religious tolerance requires respect for other people’s beliefs.  The cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo did not do that.

We live in a fragile and pluralistic world and we must be aware of the consequences of what we do and say. Surely that is what fraternity and solidarity is about – respecting the rights and beliefs of others.

Both the New York Times and The Guardian have refused to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. I believe that shows mature judgement.

Charles Walton of the the University of Warwick sets out in the link below the problem when free speech becomes a kind of fundamentalism. This article was published in The Conversation on 9 January.

http://theconversation.com/when-free-speech-becomes-a-kind-of-fundamentalism-36039

Extremism in any religion is a major concern. We need to consciously build relations with moderate Islam so that the extremists can be isolated. Building relations with Islam goes far beyond anti terrorism action. It involves economic, social and political action so that young Muslims in particular are not isolated in frustration and urban ghettoes.

The west has exploited the Middle East and antagonised Islam from the time of the Christian Crusades. The Middle East has been attacked, colonised and its resources exploited. That inevitably leaves a legacy of hostility.  That hostility must be addressed on a range of fronts.

Andrew MacLeod in The New Daily writes about the need for the West to undertake a wide range of activities that will encourage and support moderate Muslims and at the same time isolate extremists. The link to this article is below.

http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2015/01/09/must-rethink-islam/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The+New+Daily+Saturday+10115&utm_content=The+New+Daily+Saturday+10115+CID_c2ce349d983fb49cc7796b4c588d8994&utm_source=&utm_term=Why+a+heavy+handed+approach+to+Islamic+extremism+will+not+work#.VLGlodSO5uc.gmail

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John Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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