Last week, a disgusting and offensive movie ostensibly made by an American about the Prophet Mohammed began circulating on the internet, and sparked violent uprisings in many Muslim communities mostly against American Embassies and Consulates.
Yesterday, a French magazine published equally disgusting and offensive cartoons which, again, depicted the Prophet. Violent protests have already begun to erupt against French Embassies and Consulates.
The two above events are not unrelated. The free-speech loving editor of the French magazine, upset by the violent uprisings against the American film, seems to hope that he will start a deluge of satirical publications around the world all mocking the Muslim religion. His logic appears to be that Muslims cannot possibly start violent protests against everyone.
Now, more information is coming out about the very film the French magazine was looking to defend. It may very well be that the movie — marketed and shot to look like a low-budget independent film — actually has powerful and wealthy backers with a specific political agenda who knew and wanted exactly the kind of response the movie has garnered from the Muslim community. To what ends, remains unclear.
I am a big fan of free speech. Is it sometimes abused? Of course. But here’s the problem: what’s abuse of free speech to one person is a just political statement to another. In America, I have seen people burn the American flag — an incredibly offensive act to some, a political statement to others — done in the name of free speech. I have witnessed, first hand, Judaism, Catholicism, and Mormonism all mocked mercilessly in cartoons, magazines and night-time television, again, all in the name of free speech. Was this right? Proper? In good taste? Probably not.
Now, in recent years, Islam is becoming the target of this kind of mocking. And the response has been violence.
What is the goal of a violent response? Is the goal to stop free speech? If it is, I say to those committing acts of violence to be careful for what you wish, because who’s to say that the next free speech to be shut down won’t be your own right to pray.
Or perhaps the goal is to make people specifically fearful of mocking the Muslims?
There are two problems with this idea: first, this tactic risks making people fearful of Muslims in general, not just of Muslims protesting offensive movies and cartoons. And second, the tactic isn’t working, as the French magazine has already proved.
I have a suggestion. First off, let’s get rid of the violence. It’s getting an idiotic and badly-made movie way more attention and views than it deserves, and it’s getting innocent people killed.
And second, if you want to really put a stop to totally offensive publications and films, hit the creators of such content not with violence, but with economics.
If all the Muslims in France (peacefully) boycotted the magazine that published the offensive cartoons and its advertisers, than I assure you, the magazine would think twice about running such idiotic content in the future. And, when the names of the backers of the film finally emerge — and I assure you, they will — boycott and even peacefully protest their businesses too!
Will this end religious mocking? Of course not. But it will slow it at least as much as a violent response, without countless innocent lives being taken and an environment of fear permeating our planet.
You can reach The Anonymous Alien at AnonymousAlieninIndia@gmail.com