After Charlie

Screen shot 2015-01-14 at 12.21.40 PMAll of France is asking itself a question today. What happens after Charlie?

Before Charlie there was Ahmed. Ahmed Marabet, a handsome Frenchman in his 40s: a policeman who had been passing nearby on bicycle when he saw the terrorists. Ahmed Marabet just happened to be Muslim and he was slaughtered along with everyone else last Wednesday.

Screen shot 2015-01-14 at 12.21.04 PMAfter the massacre, the world cried Je Suis Charlie, in honor of all the victims of the attack. Almost instantly, Muslims started posting Je Suis Ahmed. This was not in denial of the loss to our nation nor was it meant to belittle the attack on French liberty. This was a cry, “I am Muslim. I am not an Extremist terrorist, I am a French(wo)man ready to die for my country.” It was a reminder that we can not confuse Muslims with Extremists who represent a miniscule percentage of those following Islam today.

This weekend Monsieur Marabet’s family held a press conference to deliver the message themselves. They are French. They are also Muslim. Like all French citizens, they believe in Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité. The terrorists, they made clear, were insane and in no way represent Islam or their beliefs.

Screen shot 2015-01-14 at 12.28.06 PMMustapha Ourra, another Muslim, was one of the employees at Charlie Hebdo killed during the massacre and there are no reports on how many of the 10s of 1000s of law enforcement officers who brought an end to our three day nightmare were also Muslim.

The family of the terrorist who attacked Hyper Casher also came out publicly. They apologized profusely. The had been estranged for years because this coward had gotten lost in Extremist hatred. They had not raised him into this insanity and his dogma in no way reflects their beliefs.

One of the heros of the Hyper Casher attacks is a Muslim employee who was able to hide six people, including a 1 month old baby in the freezer. He cut off the lights and the cooling system, ensuring their safety before risking his own life to run to the police. He was a moving target to both the terrorist and the police who suspected him of being the terrorist. Eventually, he was able to advise them on where the hostages were and the store’s layout.

Screen shot 2015-01-14 at 12.21.14 PMSince the murders, several mosques in France have been attacked. This is counterproductive in a country that needs to unify. And it is a tragic example to the rest of the world. Muslims are not the problem. Extremists are the problem and this is true across the globe.

Thankfully, experts are coming on local news shows to defend the Muslim community. We are reminded that the biggest victims of these Extremists are, by far, other Muslims. In France, most Extremist hatred is being taught to disenfranchised men in the prison system. It is being taught by criminals who never studied Islam. They just take what they find online and use the most destructive bits to rally a crowd of violent people, giving them a target for their anger.

Prominent, educated Muslim leaders, like the Imam of Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi, have been working with the French government to find a solution for years. Screen shot 2015-01-14 at 12.21.21 PMHis projects unite Muslim, Catholic and Jewish leaders across France and have even included a visit to Israel.

As an individual, who is neither a political nor a religious leader, I can not make a significant difference in this convoluted mess. But I am a writer, dedicated to the power of words.

Those animals? Those terrorist who dressed their hatred in the words of the Quran? They were not Muslims. They were Extremists. I am now committed to making this vital distinction every time I speak, write or think about the Islamic faith. Muslims are not Extremists. Extremists are not Muslim. Je Suis Ahmed.

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5 thoughts on “After Charlie

  1. I am so glad you have posted this powerful and moving post as an antidote to all the inaccurate, fear mongering, Islamaphobia I have been hearing on the international news media, whilst I have been in Paris this week.!

    You make a very good point about referring to these murderers as extremists and not connect them with any religion. The more moderate sensible people speak up the better… was shown by Sundays march.

    Fear, ignorance , misinformation and mistrust are the enemies of peace and I also have been heartened by religious leaders, Muslim, Jewish and Christian coming out this week to condemn the extremists, but also to show tolerance (and love). of others who have differing views to them. The more people understand about others the better. Most muslim , Jewish, Hindu , Buddist and Christian people I know, just want to live their own lives in their own way and don’t apply thier cultural rules to others.

    Can we please also remember the estimated 3000 people mainly Muslims who have also been murdered by extremists in Nigeria this week.

    Je suis Ahmed.

    Love Denise.

    • You are right, Maria. As I mentioned, Muslims are by far the biggest victims of these Extremists. From schools in Pakistan to villages in Timbuktu, these lunatics hide behind a distorted interpretation of Islam to kill Muslim men, women and children.

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