Several days after the attack on the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001, I felt a need to contact my American friend in New York and apologise for what had happened. He was surprised by my email and wondered why I felt I needed to apologise. At that time I felt responsible because some individuals had decided to attack innocent people in the name of Islam, the same faith that I’m part of and believe in, resulting in the terrible loss of several thousands of lives. Today, I have the same urge. But not only because I feel I should defend Islam… but because I am also worried about its future in Europe.
The brutal murder of twelve people in the office of the Charlie Hebdo Magazine in Paris caused a state of shock and sadness among people, not only in France, but across the world. When you read/hear/listen to all the media identifying the terrorists as Muslim extremists, you cannot help but worry about the collateral damage for French and European Muslims. It could be the same as it was for the Muslims in the US after 9/11; threats on the streets, damaged houses and attacks on mosques. Actually, the word ‘could’ should be changed into ‘is’, as it is already happening.
I’m not a very religious person, but I do believe in God and in the presence of a higher force among us. I believe that doing well makes you to feel good, and not just because it earns you a place in heaven after death. But I’ve read books, watched documentaries, talked to many people (religious and atheists) and it all comes down to one question: why should anyone feel the need to avenge the Prophet? Every Muslim should know that the Prophet bore up and faced even more mockery, insults, assaults and rejections during his life on Earth without a need for hiring cold-blooded murderers to defend his honour. It was the act of these terrorists that made a mockery and satire of all religions, especially of Islam.
It is hard to determine universal limits for what constitutes good or bad humour. Someone will find something funny, while I truly believe that it was not. A few weeks ago, a presenter on a Serbian TV-show made a joke about Srebrenica’s Muslim women and their birth rate, and a few days ago a person I know told a joke about Jews in concentration camps. I didn’t find those jokes to be funny. But there’s a limit: even if you don’t like someone’s humour, political attitude or blasphemy you still don’t have the right to take his or her life. Even though there are many weaknesses and failures, Europe needs to cherish, cultivate, build and strengthen its multicultural experiment.
This article was inspired by recent events in Paris and by many news articles and personal stories. Many Europeans have an opinion about Islam and Muslims that is based on the news that comes from the Middle East. Of course, it is not my obligation to point out the different side of Islam. But it is worth a shot.