Friday, 30 January 2015

The real reason Islamist terrorists attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo

Following the attacks in Paris against the journal 'Charlie Hebdo' on 7 January 2015 Christian evangelist Jay Smith decided to display and discuss the controversial covers of the journal which provoked the violence.

So on 11 January in the most public of settings, and that bastion of 'Freedom of Speech' - the world famous Speaker's Corner in London - he showed covers which mocked not only Muhammad, but Jesus Christ as well and asked the (many) Muslims in the crowd whether they were offended.

One of these covers mocking Christianity is I think the most blasphemous illustration I have ever seen.

Not surprisingly the Muslims in the crowd were offended, as Jay himself was, but he used the opportunity to make the point that whilst the covers were also grossly offensive to Christians, Christ’s own response to mockery and derision was not violence but rather to pray for his persecutors.

The video is well worth viewing in its entirety – but  I was particularly struck by the section in which Jay explains what he considers to be the real motivation behind the attack.

The real reason, he argues, was not the magazine covers per se, but rather a series of comic books on the life of Muhammad by Stephane Charbonnier, the editor of the Charlie Hebdo journal, who was killed on 7 January. These comics are pictured on the video from 7m 40s and reproduced in the pictures on this blogpost..

Apparently these are no longer available to buy and are likely to become collectors’ items in the future.

As Jay illustrates they are titled 'The Life of Mohammed' and depict episodes from the real life of Muhammad.

What Charbonnier essentially did was to take the most 'juicy' stories from the Islamic traditions. In fact he claimed in January 2013 (see also numbered references below) that his work is 'a properly researched and educational worked prepared by an (unnamed) Franco-Tunisian sociologist'.   

It appears he used a variety of sources and may well have used Zakaria Botros as his inspiration.

Botros is a Coptic priest from Egypt who is best known for his critiques of the Qur'an and other books of Islam. 
According to Wikipedia (see links there) World Magazine gave Father Botros the ‘Daniel of the Year’ award in 2008 and he has been named ‘Islam's public enemy No. 1’ by Arabic newspaper al Insan al Jadeed. Al-Qaeda has apparently put a $60 million bounty on his head.

In an interview with Aljazeera TV, Islamic cleric Ahmad al-Qatani stated that some six million Muslims convert to Christianity annually, many of them persuaded by Botros's public ministry.

According to Botros, his analysis of Islamic scriptures is designed to give Muslims a ‘short, sharp shock’, intended to make them ask questions and examine their faith.

However, he contends that he is not attacking Islam, but merely searching for the truth; ‘The truth is not restricted to someone, but it belongs to everybody, and it is the right of everybody to search for the truth and to embrace it without fear of authorities or the terrorism of bigots.’

On 16 September 2012, the Los Angeles Times reported that Botros was an ideological influence on the film Innocence of Muslims, whose portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad set off protests and attacks on Western embassies across the Middle East. 

But Botros has denied this on his own website.

Regardless, as Jay points out, every story in Charbonnier’s comics is footnoted and sourced to Muslim tradition – that is, every one actually appears in Islam’s own sacred texts. In other words, Charbonnier was simply illustrating what the Hadith already teaches about the prophet. 

But the key point is this – most Muslims do not know their own religious texts well enough to know that. And perhaps if they did they would be asking the same questions as the six million per year allegedly influenced by Botros.

So there it is. Take it or leave it (but if you doubt me look at the references below).

I don’t imagine that many newspapers will be reproducing these comics and I certainly do not own copies myself. 

Other articles on the Charlie Hebdo comic books

1. French paper to publish comic book life of Muhammad 

2. French weekly publishes 'Life of Mohammed' cartoons 

3. Charlie Hebdo publishes 'Halal' Prophet Mohammed comic book biography 

4. French magazine prints comic book life of Prophet Muhammad

5. How Charlie Hebdo became a top terrorist target 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.