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Chris Ford: Islamophobic hatred should not flow following Charlie Hebdo shooting

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Contributor:
Chris Ford
Chris Ford

As a blogger and writer, I join many millions of people around the world in condemning the shocking, violent murder of 12 journalists at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris this morning.

I do understand that Charlie Hebdo sometimes printed controversial, even racist, xenophobic and religiously offensive content (and this was across the board aimed at Muslims, Jews and Christians, etc) and all in the name of satire. But never, ever should anyone be physically assaulted or murdered for publishing controversial material. That is not something that should be engaged in within any society and by any political or religious grouping.

One of the biggest things I am concerned about is the potential for Islamophobia to increase in the wake of these shootings. Already, Europe is being shaken by a rising tide of anti-immigrant and, particularly, anti-Islamic sentiment. In France itself, the spectre of the far-right Front National (National Front) led by Marine Le Pen looms ever larger over the country's politics. In neighbouring Germany, tens of thousands are marching in what are becoming known as the Pergida marches against alleged growing Islamic influence in that country. Today's shooting will no doubt politically benefit the Islamophobes and racists in the longer term - that is, unless, racism and Islamophobia are actively combatted. This will be a harder thing to do in the wake of the shootings but it must still be done if peace and understanding between the various communities of Europe is to transpire.

In saying all this, I believe that when controversial material appears, it should be actively critiqued and condemned. However, that is as far as it should go in a free and democratic society like our own. Counterargument and logic should prevail against controversial ideas as that is what spurs free and peaceful democratic debate. And I would stress that it is illogical to kill someone for simply holding a controversial idea as while the person may die, the idea lives on.

Today, what cannot be denied is that a group of radicalised, Islamic State (IS) sympathisers have brutally murdered journalists, writers and cartoonists who were going about their work. Nothing, though, should ever justify the murder of any journalist or intellectual no matter how controversial their views might sometimes be. All writers and intellectuals can and should be (ideally) challenged if they are controversial through respectful debate and dialogue - but never should they or anyone be silenced by brute or lethal force.

RIP the 12 souls of Charlie Hebdo.

 

 

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