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.

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.


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4 Responses to John Menadue. If I were a Muslim…

  1. Wayne J McMillan says:

    I agree with you John 100% that religious tolerance requires respect for other people’s beliefs and that the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo did not do that. Their cartoons reflected an abuse of freedom of speech and showed very little mature forethought or social responsibility for the common good. If we want to engage our Muslim brothers and sisters in a positive way, then we must reach out at the community level with a warm welcome and on going hospitality.

  2. Jenny Haines says:

    I agree John Menadue. I think you have the balance right here.

  3. Tony Kevin says:

    A wise, succinct essay. And useful references. Thank you, John.

  4. tasi timor says:


    Don’t agree with all of what you suggest, but appreciate you trying to cool, rather than heat, the rhetoric.

    All nations have pressure points inherited from their history, which can open up fractures if pushed. Developing institutions to prevent this occurring and ensuring the civilised Centre holds in stressful times is an essential part of nation building, and national security.

    Let’s just watch exactly who in the media and politics try to use the Charlie Hebdo crime to push our pressure points and weaken our civilised Centre. Many of us who’ve worked on International missions/projects have seen this firsthand. Conflict entrepreneurs are found not just in developing nations – we have them too.

    Keep working to protect the civilised Centre John, it all counts.

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