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The Girl Who Has A Moral Compass

January 7th, 2015

Twelve people who were working at a satirical French news magazine were murdered.

Why? Because the newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. They published cartoons and so they were killed.

If you identify as a person who has good morals and values or at the very least believe that life is valuable and precious, then you should speak up against these killings. This includes Muslims, yes, even if there were cartoons of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) involved. Why? Because it is wrong. Plain and simple.

You don’t even have to do it publicly if you’re not there yet (I hardly know if I’m in that place yet). When you read it in the news, you can shake your head and be sad for the families of those people who were killed. You can tell a friend how upsetting this is. You can talk to your children and your parents about how killing and violence is not an answer. You can acknowledge that this is an issue that affects you. It affects me because my last name is Hassen. It affects me because I have a Muslim family. It affects me because I am a human being.

I know that for many, Islam is a source of comfort and spiritual connection. There are plenty of Muslims around the world who are peaceful people. I am not trying to argue for or against any of that here. At this point in my life (because who is to say how my thoughts may change), if you believe in God and are a religious person, fine. Just as long as you don’t try to play the role of that creator you worship and take other people’s lives. Just as long as you don’t judge and discriminate and look down upon those who do not share those same views. It is not a good reflection on your religion.

I highly doubt that renouncing religion today means you will go out and murder people tomorrow (to agree with Christopher Hitchens). However, it does seem like the opposite is a constant reality – people killing in the name of religion.

Moral CompassPeople in my circles have said that we do not need to perpetuate Islamaphobia and the western media’s agenda and to apologize on behalf of Muslims is to accept that Islam is a violent religion. I toyed with this idea and it is definitely worth some thought. When a Muslim says they are sorry about what is happening, can’t this be disassociated from the religion? Can’t you be just be angry and upset that this is happening or that this is happening in the name of your/any religion? Can’t you empathize with what has happened? The media is a whole other issue but it still doesn’t change the facts about today’s events.

I think it is fair game for people to question Islam. I do not think it is okay to take your beliefs out on people, individuals, human beings. Note the distinction.The distinction is incredibly important. Do not discriminate against a person wearing a hijab or who is named Mohammed. Okay, you want to have a discussion about Islam or about certain principles or about what bugs you specifically, go ahead. You may even want to have a debate and have some well-thought out questions. You may have severe reservations about what they believe but as long as they have a working moral compass, why not let them, as people, be?

So the other way around…. they published cartoons about the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). You don’t agree. It’s upsetting. Maybe you can engage in discussion. Maybe you can try to explain your point of view (with words). Maybe you can pray for them (although they likely don’t want your prayers). But you don’t go armed with AK-47s and end people’s lives.

I understand the insensitivity of the cartoons, but that is absolutely no excuse to take up arms and kill people. I definitely don’t want the kind of god who wanted me to do that. Intelligent people have discussions, they don’t go on killing sprees.

I would prefer for this to not be about Muslims vs. Non-Muslims or religious vs. non-religious people. But it is a little bit about that. However, it is more about extremism and power and politics and indoctrination. Nonetheless, whether you identify as Muslim or not, the killings are unnecessary and all people need to come together to condemn this.

Obviously, I don’t have all the answers but there are some things you just know aren’t right, religion or no religion. It comes from basic human decency. If you cannot feel sadness for lives that are taken unjustly, anywhere – in any part of the world, then I have little else to say.


  1. Ramzeen

    This is a heinous crime and a cold-blooded slaughter. I hesitated to say “of innocents” perhaps I should have said “of fools”. The world condemns this vile act as an attack against freedom of speech or whatever. The West, especially the US, doesn’t understand culture and in Hollywood, it doesn’t exist at all (someone said on TV). Hence, they seem to be dead to the cultural and religious sensitivities of others. Freedom in the West (includes Europe, Scandinavia et al) is the ability to do whatever the hell that comes to mind. What if I ran a cartoon office that made fun of and ridiculed autism or some other human disability? One would say, “hey, that’s different”. So this freedom thing does have some boundaries and that obviously doesn’t include making fun of religion. Religion is no longer fashionable there and this makes practicing Muslims, misfits in western society. They are only tolerated because the rest of the folk consider this as part of personal freedom. Terrorists who kill in the name of Islam are a bunch of idiots. They do not understand that the name of the game is tit-for-tat. They should seriously think of setting up outfits similar to Hebdo and produce material to ridicule, insult and abuse everything that their contenders hold dear (habits, behavior, rituals, festivals, religious practices etc). Now that will hit where it hurts. What the gang did has earned them the wrath of not only the world but also common or garden Muslims such as I, for carrying out this outrageous and vile act in my name.

    • Khadem Alam

      I do not think they were fools, it actually takes a level of intellectual thinking to put aside the idea of a deity (especially if brought up with God) and comment on such a sensitive topic. A foolish act is one which inflicts damaging consequences on oneself. Calling them fools would imply that Islam is a violent religion … and that by expressing their thoughts, they were inevitably bringing this on themselves. In my opinion they were innocents to say the least.

      • Ramzeen

        What I meant was that I stopped myself short of saying “slaughter of innocents” and instead should have said “slaughter of fools”. What foolish arrogance of Hebdo to consider ridicule of a certain faith or its heroes as fair game, in the name of freedom. It would have been more appropriate had the “injured party” started there own publication and gone to town in the same vein. This act got them and there faith, nowhere.

        • Nadha

          I really liked this article and in particular this part of it.

          “But it is possible to defend the right to obscene and racist speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech. It is possible to approve of sacrilege without endorsing racism. And it is possible to consider Islamophobia immoral without wishing it illegal. Moments of grief neither rob us of our complexity nor absolve us of the responsibility of making distinctions.”

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