This past week saw the tragic events unfold in Paris. Twelve innocent people lost their lives as Muslim extremists chose to attack the offices of Charlie Hebdo. Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical magazine equivalent to the UK’s Private Eye magazine. The attack is apparently a response to the insulting of Islam by the magazine. Ten journalists lost their lives all because they believed in the freedom of speech. Two police officers also perished defending them.
Following the terrible events, it brought out the discussion of freedom and the Islam debate. It was something that on social media, brought many different opinions. Social Media as usual was at the core of this and first of all it was the subject of freedom of speech. You often see many people say that it doesn’t exist. Well of course it does. People might not like to think it does because of minor issues, but it exists.
One example included a few posts saying that it didn’t exist. Ironically these were people on a party political page slating the Prime Minister and calling him various names that were far from pleasant. They don’t believe that there is freedom of speech yet despite posting various posts of insults, those people wont be tracked down,arrested or even worse killed for having the ability to criticise the Prime Minister on the page. In the UK at least we are at liberty to say what we like so long as it does not commit a criminal offence.
Satire is one element of freedom of speech and it plays a part in our daily lives. Many of the news pages that get shared on facebook such as Newsthump are satire. Satire though comes in all forms from paper to internet and radio to tv, we are surrounded by it and long may it continue. Many of us would have watched Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You, Bremner Bird and Fortune amongst others. We have listened to The News Quiz and The Now Show and even possibly read the magazine Private Eye. In Britain it is something that we seem to excel in and something we thrive in. Life without the freedom of speech would not be quite the same.
It is something though that we often take for granted. It is the same for freedom of expression. Within reason we can all walk down the street wearing what we want to. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but we are not likely to be arrested for it. Other countries could see an individual detained and imprisoned.
Satire itself dates back to the times of the Ancient Egyptians and has continued through time to the modern day, so it is by no means something new or the latest fad. In the free world it will continue long after many of us are gone and so it should.
The other subject brought up was that the whole of Islam should basically apologise for the actions of a minority. I like many decent people will disagree. Those that murdered the twelve innocent people do not represent the majority of decent hardworking muslims. They are free to condemn the actions but to apologise, is not necessary. They have nothing to apologise for. It was not they who committed the barbaric acts.
Did Christians apologise to the world for the various atrocities and crimes committed in the name of god? No, why should they. It wasnt carried out on their behalf and if they don’t, then why followers of Islam. It is not like the Muslims in your local town wanted to see people murdered for daring to criticise their religion. They might not have liked it, but to bring death to those who criticised, was not something that they would support.
In my mind it is a sorry state of affairs, if we find ourselves as either followers or non followers, apologising as a group for an atrocity committed by a minority that is not our fault or not in our name. We will rightly criticise and condemn such things, but never apologise.
The world may not be a perfect place but whilst we still have a voice and a means to criticise those that we find fault with, then we will continue to ensure that the freedom of speech will never die.