Provocative Terrorism and the Muslim World

Encouraging provocative terrorism in the disguise of freedom of expression is a cure too little, too late.

Charlie-Hebdo-terrorism

People waiting for the new issue of satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo at a kiosk in Nice. Credit: Reuters

The recent spate of terrorism in France, the first of its kind since World War II, has shaken the Western world by foundations which left behind 12 dead and the whole of French nation under serious trauma.

This is not the end. France is more vulnerable; in fact, the entire West is vulnerable to certain terrorist assault not from aliens, but from within unless the very basics that catalyze terrorism cease to exist.

The extension of one’s rights is consequently the encroachment on the rights of the others. No right is justified to strike on the sentiments and feelings of the others no matter how conservative or orthodox those sentiments may be.

The recent attack on Charlie Hebdo is highly condemnable. No sensible man supports the cold-blooded massacre, but the syndrome is yet prone to foster the disease into a massive religious campaign. The attacks have spearheaded a worldwide lure to read the magazine to trace the causes of the massacre which will end up infuriating more people with more extremism.

The quick and extraordinary precautions like spreading ten thousand army personnel across the country to thwart further attacks and the “Million March” to demonstrate solidarity against such terrorism hailed by 40 countries around the world will fail if Charlie Hebdo once again comes up with a new version of satire about Islamic figures like prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which the magazine staff has already promised to publish with unprecedented circulation.

Encouraging provocative terrorism in the disguise of freedom of expression while waging war on the reactionary forces is a cure too little, too late. Terrorism is a consequential action. Terrorism cannot be exterminated as long as the origins of terrorism live in the society.

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If Charlie Hebdo had not pinched Muslims’ feelings with satirical insulting publications, the ensuing attacks would never have happened. Terrorism does not just happen; it is provoked. The war on terror and military offensives cannot eliminate terrorist attacks amid ever encouraged freedom of expression (the freedom of expression is more like the freedom to provoking terrorism).

It is time the world wage war against provocative terrorism, time to modify the definition of freedom of expression and to curtail the publications of religious satire. Provocative literature has done enough damage to social bonds where the indigenous Muslims in the West are held skeptical for every misdeed and to the Westerns in the third world where they are ill-treated for what the harbingers of provocative terrorism do in the Western media.

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Jameel-ur-Rehman Zaib is a visiting lecturer at Preston University Islamabad, Pakistan. Read other articles by Jameel.