Dr. Farid Younos

Je suis pas Charlie (I am not Charlie)


The attack on Paris, the heart of the city of “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” (Liberty, Equality and Fraternity) that during the course of history, become a controversial motto within France as well, shocked the world. On the first day, with strongest term, I condemned the attack on my Face-book page. I have deep sympathy with the victims and announced my solidarity with all those Muslims and non-Muslims who condemned terrorism, radicalism and barbarianism. At the same, Rup Murdoch suggested to comedian Aziz Ansari that all Muslims should take responsibility; No, “Je suis pas Charlie.” (I am not Charlie). I am proud to be a Muslim, and to me Islam is the most civilized way of life, mais je suis pas Charlie.

Let's make some assessments of the situation:

First of all, the Qur'an teaches us that everyone is responsible for his/her own deed and creed and no one can take responsibility for the wrong doing of others. It is like we ask all the Jews to take responsibility for the atrocities and crimes committed by Zionists daily against people of Palestine.  Or we blame all Christians for the planning of the Qur'an burning of Pastor Terry Jones. Or we condemn democratic system of government because Hitler came to power by his constituency.

Secondly, it is very amusing that the capitalist liberal media of the West along those who are staunch anti-Muslims uses this opportunity and take advantage  for their own economic and political gains. Charlie Hebdo magazine was a bankrupt editorial. It is total triage was 60,000 and look at it now; five Millions are on the news stand. Not only that, the West always play double standard when it comes to justice for all and that is why the motto of “ Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite”  become a joke. In 2009, Philippe Val, the editor of Charlie Hebdo magazine asked cartoonist Maurice Sinet to apologize for anti-Semitic remarks and he refused  to do so. The same editor wanted to fire him.  When it comes to Zionists interest, freedom of speech does not exists in Europe or in the West in general. Because of a strong Zionist lobby and a gripping on media by Zionists  one cannot make  a slight remark on Israeli crimes. In the United States, those with high profile do not dare to criticize Israeli crimes in Palestine, they either  lose their job or stigmatized as anti-Semitic. The U.S Senate is very much pro-Israel. Paul Findley, the long time Congressman from Illinois who wrote the most popular book on Israeli lobby in the United States, “They Dare to Speak out,” (1989), quoting from J. William Fulbright, a democratic Senator in the 60's writes, “ The great majority of the Senate of the United States—somewhere around 80 percent—are completely in support of Israel, anything Israel wants.”(1989:95).  I bit now is 99% in support of Israel.  John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, the authors of “The Israel Lobby” (2007),writes, “ At he same time, groups in the lobby try to marginalize anyone who criticizes Israeli policy or challenges the “special relationship,” and to try to prevent that person's views from getting a fair hearing in the public arena. To do this, the lobby sometimes employs heavy-handed tactics to silence critics, accusing them of being anti-Israel or anti-Semitic.” (2007:168). The point is that freedom of expression that everyone is marching and shouting is not for the sake of justice for all,  but those who have a grip of power  and their political, economical and geopolitical interest is at stake, and that is why, Je suis pas Charlie(I am not Charlie).

Third, I agree with the French philosopher, Abdennour Bidar (“Memri” [ The Middle East Media Research Institute] website on November 5, 2014), that our state of affairs in Muslim countries is chaotic. Muslims do not have freedom of expression politically while the Qur'an teaches freedom of expression and the pen. (Please see chapter 96 verse 4 and chapter 55 verse 4 of the Qur'an). As a matter of fact the war of badr in Islam at the time of the Prophet Muhammad was launched for freedom of mind and  expression, and belief. We do not have gender equality, while the Qur'an does not discriminate between sexes. Our countries ruled by dictatorship and corrupt shaikh and puppets of the West  while Islam  introduced us to election and choosing a leadership at Saqifa gathering 1400 years ago after the pass away of the Prophet. Our ulema (Men of knowledge) do not see that we are living in a different century.  Our education system lacks critical thinking, our cities are polluted and illiteracy in Muslim countries is phenomenal. I, as a Muslim admit  that we are part of the problem and I mentioned this issue when I participated in the 2nd Annual International Islamic Leadership Peace and Justice  Conference in Dublin, Ireland. However, Professor Abdennour failed to acknowledge, as a philosopher, the cause and effect of  our malaise in the Middle East.  Colonialism, monopolizing of  natural resources by the West, atrocities of Israel against the  people of Palestine and every one keeps silent,  installing Western puppets  such Reza Shjah Pahlawi, the monarch of Iran,  or Pinochet in Chile,  forcing capitalist ideas that made rich, richer, and poor, poorer; economic racism, supporting dictatorship such as in Egypt and occupation of Muslim lands such as Iraq and Afghanistan, militarization of the region, imposing Western democracy that failed to bring justice  in their own territories. Demonstration of 99% against 1% is a case in point. The West also plays double standard against its own citizen. In the country of “Liberte, Fraternite and Egalite” that all need to be equal, Muslims are marginalized in “banlieues.” The Republic failed to treat its people equally. Muslims youth do not have equal access to education or  employment  (please see New York Times, January 15, 2015 “ Crisis in France is Seen as Sign of Chronic Ills”).  The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, confessed this fact by saying, “ A territorial , social , ethnic apartheid has spread across our country.”  France and Germany in particular were built by Muslim Algerian and Turkish Muslim immigrants after World War II.  But both countries stand against those who built their countries  and call them outsiders. The French motto of equality and fraternity  is only for the French who are  “Gauloise,” decedent of Gaul of ancient Europe,  not for humanity. . The most ironical of all  this double standard was  Netanyahu of Israel. He terrorized more people and killed more people than any statesman  after World War II.   He is the most wanted terrorist of our time.  But he forced himself into the march of solidarity despite the fact the French did not want him. They call Israel the only democracy in the Middle East while Israel is the biggest apartheid country in the world.  This is self-deceit and fooling others. Netanuahu is a staunch anti-Muslim. He forgot the fact that it was Muslims of France that helped the Jews in Paris Mosque when Paris was occupied by German Nazis.  Yes, In World War  II, French Muslims protected the Jews  from the Nazis and sheltered them in the Great Mosque in Paris. The French made a movie out of this episode called, “Les Hommes Libres” (Free Men), in 2011. Isn't it  unfair now to be anti-Islam. I agree with  French Muslim philosopher, Abdennour Bidar who wrote these radical Islamist hijacking of our identity as Muslims. But I would also like to remind him that cultural identity of Muslims has long been  compromised by forced policies of the West  economically, politically and socially. The biggest forceful of identity change was nationalism that introduced to us by the West. Our territory is occupied and then divided and catered according to their own colonial policy  and agenda. Divide and Rule was and still is the policy.

Sunday, (11 January, 2015), Professor Reza Aslan appeared on “Meet the Press” saying,“There’s no question that there has been a virus that has spread throughout the Muslim world, a virus of ultra-orthodox puritanism,” Aslan explained. “But there’s also no question what the source of this virus is — whether we’re talking about Boko Haram, or ISIS, or al Qaeda, or the Taliban.” and he continues,“All of them have as their source Wahhabism, or the state religion of Saudi Arabia,”Aslan continued. “And as we all know, Saudi Arabia has spent over $100 billion in the past 20 or 30 years spreading this ideology throughout the world.” This statement from Aslan is another bitter fact about the issue of terror in the Middle East that the Saudis support terror. But he failed to mention who is the biggest ally of the Saudis: The United States and Israel! Who supported the Taliban to come to power? Who supported the radical militias in Syria? Who allowed Al-Qaida to surface in Pakistan? The answer to all these is CIA of the United States. The West keep silent about democratic movements in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen. Those people because of special relationship of Saudis with Americans do not deserve equal rights.  As a matter of fact democratic inspiration in the Middle East crushed by American and Israeli policy makers. Why?Western economic policies and militarization of the region will be undermined if the real people come to power. That is why the United States always try to force its own puppet or support a dictatorship. The latest of power broker deal made by the US were  Ghani and Abdullah of Afghanistan which is a shame of not only Afghan history but US foreign policy. The most ridiculous form of democracy the world witnessed

The last issue is worthy to be addressed is democratic value vs. freedom of expression. Freedom of expression  is a God given gift to humanity. It is not a democratic value only.. In the West, people learned freedom of expression after the Renaissance.  While in Islam, Muslims learned freedom, liberty and freedom of expression from God and Muhammad. That is a huge difference.  In the Middle Ages, people revolted against the Christian religious establishment to obtain their human rights. Martin Luther (1483-1546), a German priest  was a good example and pioneer of this initiative.  In his time freedom from God punishment for sin was purchased with money. While Muslims learned  from the Qur'an that every human being is responsible for his own sin, and does not need to pay for it but repent to God and no one else. The second point we are making here,  is that freedom of expression  is a value   for a Western man and is a democratic value. The question is this: Are democratic values moral? If they are moral, then insult, bigotry, double standard, vulgar language and so on should not be a value in a democratic system. If freedom of expression associated with insult of others then that is not a value. Most importantly, we Muslims learned in the West that “democracy is “Government  of the people by the people for the people.”  This means the people of a country regardless of their religious belief system, race, language and  gender is the people. People does not mean that we all need to be  Gauloise or Anglo-Saxon.  If we stand against one group whoever that  may be, and  with whatever affiliation, then we are against democracy and democratic values. The world is very much created multicultural, and societies are part of this world that made up of different people, race, language and culture. Why don't we understand this simple act of creation.  Those who are against a religion, a race, a  language , a gender and so on, can easily be called a fascist.

After the massacre  of January 7, 2015,  Charlie Hebdo,  went again and mocked Islam.  Charlie Hebdo proved that democracy is not a moral system of government or society for that matter.  The magazine proved what Nietzsche, the German Philosopher, was right saying, “ that in a democracy "[w]hen the individual's highest and strongest instincts break forth with a passion, driving him far and above the average, beyond the lowlands of the herd conscience", "the moral perspective now considers how harmful or harmless an opinion, an emotional state, a will, a talent is to the community, to equality". "Exalted, self-directed spirituality, a will to solitude, even great powers of reason are felt as a danger". "Morality in Europe today is herd animal morality” (WIKIPEDIA on Anti-Democratic Thought, viewed January 21, 2015 at 5:00PM; Pacisifc Standard Time). The French Philosopher, Charles Maurras sayings is another prove of the action taken by Charlie Hebdo. He says, “ "Democracy is evil, democracy is death". Maurras' concept of politique naturelle (Natural politics) declared recognition of inescapable biological inequality and thereby natural hierarchies, and claimed that the individual is naturally subordinated to social collectivities such as the family, the society, and the state, which he claims are doomed to fail if based upon the "myth of equality" or "abstract liberty". Maurras criticized democracy as being a "government by numbers" in which quantity matters more over quality and prefers the worst over the best. Maurras denounced the principles of liberalism as described in  by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and in The Social Contract as based upon the false assumption of liberty and the false assumption of equality. He claimed that the parliamentary system subordinates the national interest, or common good, to private interests of a parliament's representatives where only short-sighted interests of individuals prevail. (WIKIPEDIA, Ibid).

In 21st century, it is only through mutual respect and understanding, eqaulity and fair treatment of all that we can creat a true world order for humanity. Not the “World Order” that capitalists dream for thier own interst. It is only mutual cooperation between nations that peace can flourish. Nation building, support of this and support of that is not an an answer. Because all these supports only support one group not the entire nation. We need to stop militarization of the Middle East. We need rto recognize the rights of Palestine. We need to stand firm for those who want eqaulity and jusitce for all not for monarchs, sheiks and a few capitalists. Mines of Africa should be exploited for the sake of all not a few. Isalm teaches peace and cooperation.  It is abusrd that  all Muslims taken hostage for the wrong doing of a few thugs that the West created  for thie political agenda and economic gains.

Dr Younos is Professor of Cultural Anthropology of the Middle East at California State University-East Bay.

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