Should not we also say 'Je suis Ahmed'?

Should not we also say 'Je suis Ahmed'?

Perhaps the world has never been so close to a threat of the clash of civilizations since the time of the Crusades. The situation is probably far worse than in medieval times. It is neither about insults to the Prophet Muhammad, nor blasphemy against Islam. Such developments are just the tips of the iceberg. The cold-blooded and premeditated murder of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo magazine is just an alarm bell for what is in the pipeline.

Throughout all Muslim societies, there is uneasiness. There is a feeling of being ignored, neglected and looked down upon, if not hated. From all forms of torture in the dungeons of Abu Ghraib, to Guantanamo, to the secret prisons in Afghanistan, Poland and elsewhere, to the rape of women and blasphemy against Islam and Islamic values, coupled with some grave mistakes by the mentality of “occupation” on land, aggravated by the “evil other” obsession. From Palestinians suffering day and night to indiscriminate Israeli bombings several times every year, to the “democratization” efforts of the Christian West wreaking havoc throughout northern Africa and the Middle East, to varying degrees. From so many years of Iraq continuing to be an insecure and unstable country, to Afghans being "saved" so effectively that they no longer remember what functioning governance, security, and well-being are... Worse, for the past number of years, through various forms of direct and indirect support, as well as through assistance via local proxies such as Turkey, Qatar and the Saudis, a merciless beast was created in Syria to fight another beast, a ruthless dictator.

Over the decades, young recruits from all over the world have been allowed to join Islamist, non-Islamist or even Marxist-Leninist gangs operating in the region. Why? Everyone had an account to settle with someone else. Some used the Kurdish card, some preferred to use something more appealing to the ears: Bringing democracy. The end result: Gangs operating in the region extending from Yemen to Afghanistan; thousands of Turks, British, French, German and who knows what other nationalities trained in guerrilla warfare.

Who were those terrorists captured in Istanbul, as they were planting explosives at a shopping mall? Who was that female suicide bomber? Who were those who staged the Paris massacre in cold blood? Were these people involved in the Middle East or North African terrorism networks in recent times? Have they been to Iraq? The answers may shock everyone and underline the real dimension of the threat.

Becoming the first country to bombard Tripoli to “save” Libya from dictator Muammar Gadhafi has a price, as well as insisting on an obsession to have a Syria without the al-Assads and the Baath, and going to bed with “moderate Islamists.” Who are those moderate Islamists? Can there be a moderate Islam?

Of course, Islam cannot be held responsible for the bloodshed, even if those shedding blood might claim that they do this for Islam. Yet, the area has been converted into an inferno as a byproduct of the three-monkeys Christian West insisting on playing with the continued sufferings of the Palestinians on the one hand, while on the other hand harboring a romantic dream of transforming the entire region into a democratic space overnight with a “spring revolution.” How could this calamity not produce a bill, a heavy one? With the atmosphere already fertilized so well by ignorance, would it make much difference for terrorism to go berserk because of a blasphemous cartoon, an indecent film, or an unfortunate statement by a trivial politician?

Of course, there could be no excuse for the cold-blooded carnage. Even if Islamic tradition bars any depiction of its Prophet Muhammad to prevent idolatry, all through ages, there have been examples to the contrary. Could a cartoonist, filmmaker or painter test the limits of “free expression” through provocative works that might be considered religiously blasphemous? While there ought to be a limit at some point, in a free society, people have the right to express views, even when they are offensive and wrong. It is the individual exercise of freedom of expression for a writer, painter, cartoonist, filmmaker or whoever to produce whatever intellectual product is to their liking. Others may appreciate and give that intellectual product a standing ovation, others may not approve of it, while others may even consider it disgusting. But finding it disgusting or even abhorrent cannot be a reason for killing.

In an expression of condemnation and solidarity, journalists all around the world have been declaring “Je suis Charlie” since the Paris carnage. Should we not particularly remember the policeman Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim who lost his life trying to save the Charlie Hebdo staff? Should not we not also say, "Je suis Ahmed"?