Syrians and Charlie Hebdo

Syrians and Charlie Hebdo
Stories | 01 Mar 2015

By: Khawla Ghazi

Every now and then, the Islamic World is exposed to a seismic shock that posits it in a confrontation with the "other;" in defense of its belief; a demonstration of the virtues of religion's position; and the retort that those distorting Islam are not true Muslims but rather an aberrant group; and many other justifications and schisms regarding every act pf the Prophet Muhammad (p). These incidents are bound to be repeated without any subsequent planning to prevent such reactions from being repeated.

This is surprising given the country-large budgets being put gforth for the prpopagation of Islam around the world, as well as numerous conferences of Muslim Scholars; yet not one fatwa commensurate with the modern day and age has been issued dealing with the issue of the caraicatures [depicting the prohet] or other such issues. Diligence and innovation in Islam has been dormant for hundreds of years, with Islam living in the ages when these last apeared; and with fatwas limiting themselves to adult breastfeeding and other such bizarre and trivial issues.

One cannot discuss these incidents, without taking into consideration the Syrian role and position thereon. In 2006, and in a hitherto unseen scene in Damascus, thousands of angry demonstrators broke into the Danish and Norwegian embassies, setting them on fire in retaliation for the Prophet in an angry response to the cartoons published in a Danish newspaper. This incident was a litmus test of society's reactions. A large slice of Syrians believed such a thing would never happen in Syrianot only because Syrians do not know anger, or because they are [politically] conscious or not; but due to the nature of the regime that only allowed pro-regime "national" demonstrations. How these thousands of demonstrators were able to infiltrate the many security and military fortifications, remains an unanswered question; especially given that regime opponents had dreamt that a quarter of those numbers would be able to go out onto the squares of Damascus, during the outbreak of the Syrian Revolution in March 2011.

One ought not overlook yet another aspect, that of the open media scene via satellite stations, has allowed the infection of revolution to hit Arab peoples fairly quickly, and helped them to interact with events completely new to them. Such as had ocurred after the Tunisia revolution; it was the mediaparticularly Gulf news stations—that became the de facto leader of these Revolutions, especially the Syrian Revolution, and responsible for labelling them with an Islamic character.

As for the Syrians' reaction to the horrific crime suffered by "Charlie Hebdo' in Paris last week; that represents an exceptional and divergent discourse from that of any other people. Syria, for more than three years, has become the scene where conflicts are being resolved, and a site to attract the militants of al-Qaeda, ISIS, al-Nusra Front, and others; most of whom have settled in the north of Syria, and who have come in from European and Arab countries, and Turkey, all countries opposing the regime in Syria.

Having the militants of the world travel to the land of the Caliphate in Syria has become an easy and convenient method of ridding their countries of them. What these countries, however, failed to account for was the possibility of their return; thus prompting many of these countries—such as Britainto threaten the withdrawal of their passports.

It was therefore imperative for Syrians, particularly those belonging to its secular opposition, to prove to the world that the Syrian Revolution is innocent of any terrorism; that it is a Revolution of justice and dignity; and that they disown the terrorism of both ISIS and the regime. Hence Syrians in France participated in the march of solidarity in Paris. Many Syrians affiliated with the Revolution posted "Je Suis Charlie" on their Facebook pages. Others, on the other hand, chose to ignore it as it is of no concern to them; what is happening in Syria is of far more import to them than the events of Paris—all the while, also condemning terrorism. Then there are those who adopted extreme positions, either against Islam or endorsing the operation.

Syrians affiliated with the regime had their say as well, reminding Paris how Bashar al-Assad had earlier warned that terrorism would boomerand back to European countries; how Europe is now is having a taste of the same medicine it has [purportedly] been giving to Syrians for many years now; also reminding how ISIS had, in cold blood, slit the throats of army soldiers and officers, with the whole world remaining silent.

Conversely, the Parisian solidarity march attended by more than 50 political leaders from countries around the world, also coincided with the intensification of an extreme cold wave and blizzards, leading to the death of many children in the Syrian refugee camps in neighboring countries; thus serving as yet another reminder to the Syrians of the injustice they suffer, with their daily tragic plight largely ignored.

In a nutshell, violence will continue to plague our world, as long as there is a sense of injustice and an absence of justice, combined with ignorance, illiteracy, and a lack of awareness. There also is, and will continue to be, those who take advantage certain gaps in Islamic texts, turning them into fertile soil for the growth of extremist religious movements.

The solution lies in bridging all these excuses and reasons, and put an end to all wars. Such solutions may prove impossible now, but this is how reality ought to be.


* Opinion articles do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Radio Rozana.

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