Grief is not a word to throw around lightly when it comes to people you have never met, but it’s part of the mourning I personally feel for the people brutally and needlessly murdered in the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo.
One of the things you train your brain to do when you write copy is to find similes and reflections. Just as there is a global sense of connection in Islam, there’s one in journalism. #Jesuischarlie is just the forefront of that, we all felt it when Isis beheaded journalists and we all felt it when journalists were imprisoned, as they still are, in Egypt for reporting. I know both the journalists of the world and the family of Islam feel the pain of today.
Mostly I’m sorry. I’m sorry to the journalists who died where they created, who were silenced in the most barbaric way without discussion. I’m also, very differently, sorry to the jihadis who felt there was no reasonable way of dealing with a publication creating images of their most sacred entities, and that this was somehow the right thing to do.
So here are two entirely separate statements. 1) I disagree with publishing images of the prophet because it is disrespectful to people’s faith. 2) I hope severe justice is swiftly and heavily served on the people who horrendously and maliciously attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo.
If you had asked me before about cartoonists publishing images of the prophet I would have said I disagreed with it with no issue. It serves absolutely no one to do so. Now it’s a loaded question- are you pro or anti freedom of speech, pro or anti terrorism. The worst is when these conversations start to spiral into a conversation of pro/anti Islam as if this is any reflection on Islam as a whole. The difficulty will come with the distinction between being against images of the prophet and against murder, and how one does not even begin to equate to the other.
So as people in the media are implored to do so I want to say this: Yes, publish Charlie cartoons tomorrow by all means. Shout loudly about great people who produced great work and celebrate their lives in the face of their awful, unnecessary death. However, if we really want to stick it to the people who perpetrated and supported this sickening act don’t publish images of the prophet, which will hurt Muslims who have no intention of hurting you or anyone else. Publish images that show solidarity with a worldwide family of Muslims who think these people do not stand for their faith.