Whenever there is news of a shooting, kidnapping or attack, the first thought that goes through my mind is "Please don't let it be a Muslim" (with "Please don't let it be a Pakistani Muslim" following closely behind). For if it's a Muslim, it will no longer be considered an isolated incident. If it's a Muslim, I have the onerous burden of having to do the following.
Why must we be particularly careful about giving the West some special status when it may well deserve to be recognized for its contemporary pluralism? The main cause for caution is that history reveals patterns of prejudice in the West, just as much as in the East, and there can still be a resurgence of such impulses if we are not careful and fail to ward them off.
While I support the right of the journalists involved to express their evident contempt for the religion of Islam, I also support my right to express my disdain for the acts that precipitated their murders.
This is not about Islam or Christianity or Judaism or even capitalism versus communitarianism, but their angriest and most vehement branches. If our enlightenment "wins," there will be Islam in the future and everything else. But the fuming tenor of zero-sum machismo will be gone. Those who today preach hatred will live, but not their hate. Moreover, they know this. And because hatred is addictive, like a drug, that is the wellspring of their fury.
What has happened to our "Country of Enlightenment"? France has always bragged about being a model of coexistence where the universalist and color blind philosophy of our Republic was supposed to protect us from racial tension. If we don't want our country to plunge into the abyss, the republican fable we are telling has to come to an end.
Singling out American Muslims for blanket surveillance does not make our nation safer. Spying based on race, ethnicity or religion has failed to identify criminal activity while undermining the very trust between American Muslims and law enforcement that is needed to fight real threats.
In the midst of an exceptional show of solidarity and grief, there have been some dissonant voices to criticize the "I am Charlie" slogan, endorsed by millions of people around the world.
On my second night in Iran, I was invited to a party in a middle-class area of Tehran. Since we were a mixed gendered group with a foreigner in their midst, we had to be reasonably inconspicuous. As soon as we stepped over the threshold of the house, however, we were no longer in the Islamic Republic.
Like President George W. Bush's declaration of a "global war on terror," this new French declaration of war on "radical Islam" will have undercut any attempt to belittle these attackers as common criminals, inflating them instead to the size of worthy military opponents.
"We" cannot solve all the problems at the core of the present tragedy, but those who ask us to begin at home to promote understanding do serve the cause. They may sound weak. They are strong.
We could search for a false harmony, like they do in unfree societies, by continually criminalizing new forms of speech according to the following maxim: If you accept my taboo and you don't speak critically or offensively about all that is sensitive and sacred to me, I will do the same for you. In societies like ours, where diversity is growing, this road leads to a tyranny of silence.
God placed humans in the Garden of Eden and gave them the right to agree or disagree. One of the primary ways that we express agreement or disagreement is through speech. The most divine thing that we do on any given day is express who we are and what we believe.
It is January 11, 2015 at the time of this writing and world leaders from over 40 countries gathered in Paris, linked arm to arm to march in peace for unity.
In France, as in America, minorities feel at odds in their country that so readily trumpets democracy to the world. January 7 demonstrated that both nations will rally in a heartbeat to defend liberté. Let's see if they can take egalité and fraternité just as seriously.
Whenever violent acts take place, the natural response is the need to obliterate the group or militias behind it militarily.
Bosnia's Muslim leadership answers without ambiguity. We have to worry more about those who would appoint themselves to defend God against presumed insult than those purportedly committing the offense.