The office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris was badly damaged by a firebomb early on Wednesday after it had published a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet Muhammad to salute the electoral victory of an Islamist party in Tunisian elections, according to a report published in the Post. The publication also said hackers had disrupted its Web site.
The French magazine had announced that a special issue for publication was called “Charia Hebdo”; which was a play on the word in French for sharia law. News reports said that a Molotov cocktail had been thrown through a window as the special edition was on its way to the newsstands, as previously scheduled.
The Associated Press quoted Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, as saying that his organization deplores “the very mocking tone of the paper toward Islam and its prophet but reaffirms with force its total opposition to all acts and all forms of violence.”
“I think that they are themselves unbelievers ... idiots who betray their own religion,” the magazine’s editor said in an interview with Associated Press Television News.
I could not have said it better myself, monsieur.
During the needless geopolitical firestorm after the 2005 Danish cartoon controversy, scores of Muslim commentators and public intellectuals like myself took to the airwaves and newspaper pages to explain that the violence which occurred during that time were un-Islamic criminal acts of violence which should not be mistaken for religiously-sanctioned actions.
In a May 2010 piece that I wrote for The Washington Post, I highlighted a well-known Islamic parable which tells the story of the Prophet Muhammed and his daily interactions with an unruly female neighbor who used to curse him violently and then proceed to dump garbage onto him every day from her perch-top window each time he would walk by her house on his way to the mosque.
One day, the prophet noticed that the woman was not present to throw garbage outside of her window. In true prophetic kindness, he actually went out of his way to inquire about her well-being and then proceeded to visit this unfriendly neighbor at her bedside inside of her own home when he had found out that she had fallen sick.
This genteel act of prophetic kindness toward unfriendly (and overtly hostile) neighbors is the Muslim ‘Ubuntu’ standard that we should all use within our collective lives -- not stupid threats of violence aimed at the silliness of some sophomoric cartoons aimed at inciting a provocative response around the world.
Simply put, people should keep in mind that the bombing of this French magazine’s offices are about as ‘Islamic’ as the bombing of an abortion clinic would be considered to be a ‘Christian’ act.
Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, global media commentator and author of the book Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era.