What Americans Don’t Understand About Charlie Hebdo
It seems that many in the West still haven’t caught on. Eastern thinking people will defend their honor. One of the worst things you can do to them is to bring dishonor or ridicule on them. In the case of Muslims, they uphold the belief that “with blood I can wash my shame away” (Abu Tammam). As such, when they are ridiculed in the western press, especially through cartoons that stereotype and ridicule them, they feel justified in their violent reaction. No amount of clamoring about freedom of speech will change this. It only makes Muslims more determined to bring Islam to Europe, so that the ridiculing and bullying will stop.
If I published a cartoon that criticizes a well-known person, perhaps making him out to be a pedophile, without any truth behind it, I should expect to be sued for liable. So if a Muslim feels his honor, and the honor of his religion, and the honor of his prophet have been robbed of him by someone’s libelous actions, how does he get the shame removed and honor restored? We do not think of this in our western society. Winning a court case may make some feel somewhat justified, but their reputation will have been forever damaged. Islam’s answer is: this is so important, that it is worthy of a death sentence. So when the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo published their cartoons, they committed an error worthy of the death penalty in some parts of the world. Unfortunately for them, people of that persuasion lived in their own country, and in their own city. Many Muslims just shrug and say: “They brought it on themselves.”
Courses and books on Muslim Women are often seen as peripheral materials. This is odd when you consider that women make up at least half the Muslim world, amounting to one billion people. Because the Muslim world is largely gendered, the world Muslim women inhabit is largely invisible to many of the men running courses and writing books around the world. I don’t mean that women are not visible and active in public places, along with men—they are in most Muslim countries today. But the rules that guide their interaction, behavior, the topics they discuss, and the themes that shape both their religious and personal experience are different from those of Muslim men. They are two different communities occupying the same space.
When I first met these young men, they had been living in the U.S for less than a year. They were young children when the Taliban took power in 1994. They, along with their families, were forced to flee the country because their parents worked for the Afghan government. When the U.S. removed the Taliban in 2002, all three returned to Afghanistan as young adults. Each of them recalled watching the news reports of the U.S. invasion, and upon returning to Kabul all three secured prestigious jobs assisting the U.S. in rebuilding the Afghan government. Both Ibrahim and Yusuf worked for defense contractors in Kabul and Ahmed worked directly with the U.S. military as a translator throughout the country. Both Ibrahim and Yusuf had professional degrees and were some of the highest paid Afghan civilian contractors in Kabul. They loved their jobs because they felt like they were seeing their country transformed for the better, particularly the city of Kabul. Ibrahim put it this way, “It’s not because Kabul is very modern, but there is a deep connection for a lot of Afghans. Friends in Kabul are different. If you have a friend there, they are friends forever. Even after my dad died, his friends would still come to my house to check on us and take care of us.”
The truth is, these young men loved living in Kabul. They described the city as being cosmopolitan and that the ethnic and religious differences that dominated rural areas of the country did not matter in the city. However, as time went on, the threat of retaliation by the Taliban became an ever present reality. They applied and were given visas to come to America but none of their family members could join them. This has resulted in an incredible sense of loneliness and concern for…
Reflections on Citizenship from a Lebanese-Canadian follower of Jesus
I am a native Lebanese citizen. I was born and raised in Lebanon. I love Lebanon, despite the insecurity, uncertainty, and corruption that characterize the country, and despite having grown up during the civil war. Lebanon has left its mark on me. Even the years of the war have contributed to shaping me into the person that I am today. I love Lebanon with the good and the bad. Consequently, I care a lot about the welfare of Lebanon. But what does this mean for me as a follower of Jesus? Should I care more about the welfare of Lebanon at the expense of other neighboring countries? Should I care about the holders of Lebanese citizenship more than I care about the displaced in Lebanon such as Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians, and the stateless?