Strangely enough I started this blog days ago, before the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Of the many dozens of cartoons I’ve seen in the past couple of days, perhaps my favourite is this, which translates as “Mahomet overwhelmed by fundamentalists” and the prophet saying “It’s hard to be loved by idiots”. I think it’s perfectly fitting for anyone capable of committing the atrocities we saw in Paris in the name of a religion which appears to have been hijacked by demented extremists hell bent on their homicidal agenda of oppression.
In about the year 2000 I joined an internet discussion group where I was utterly astounded at the level of hatred spewed forth on my screen against various minority groups from homosexuals to various ethnicities. My fellow Australians were not the tolerant people I’d always assumed them to be. I guess my life had been spent surrounded by like-minds, while the internet suddenly exposed me to attitudes I otherwise had only rarely encountered. I ended up becoming quite opinionated in this group, led by the dismay I felt.
In one discussion I vividly remember someone telling me that, given my defence of Muslims who were being pigeon holed as a homogenous group of offenders, had I been in 1930s Germany I would also have defended the Nazis. Actually, I would have been against the Nazis, but not against all Germans. In fact, Nazi philosophy was very similar to a lot of anti-Muslim rhetoric, which in turn is not so different from Islamic fundamentalist rhetoric.
On another occasion someone braggingly stated that they had a friend who attended a park where Muslims were known to use the public barbecues, where he placed pork on every barbecue in the park to “fend off” the Muslims. I suggested this was utterly grotesque behaviour and was met with “I guess you would also have thought it grotesque that he defended our nation in his time with the armed services”, as though this somehow defended anything the guy chose to do! Pretty irrational given that our armed forces have included Muslims, indigenous people, homoxexuals, etc, who were all being maligned so viciously on a daily basis.
Xenophobic attitudes threaten all of us and I feel very strongly that we should never accept, nor stay silent, in the face of bigotry. In a glimpse at world news headlines in the days before the Charlie Hebdo massacre, a French mayor refused to allow a Romani baby to be buried at the cemetery in his town and Russia disqualified all transexual and transgender people from the right to hold a driving licence. Such stupidity and yet those holding the views which lead to these decisions are always able to justify their attitude.
Meanwhile the irrational fear and hatred of Muslim extremists towards anyone threatening their contorted view on the world continues to menace the free world. Most recently and horrifically, the violent murders in France by deranged idiots involved with terror organisations in the Middle East. In the aftermath of this violence, now they are saying that “terrorist sleeper cells have been activated” and that France needs to remain on high alert. Mosques are being defaced, Muslims and Jews talking about their fears of continued retaliations. Yet Muslims and Jews were victims of this terror attack and some of the details emerging of what went on as events unfolded, outline heroic behaviour carried out by many individuals including Muslim and Jewish people.
In Germany the right wing anti-Islamist group Pegida have been demonstrating in Dresden, rallying the masses. An anti-Pegida demonstration yesterday was double the size of the largest Pegida demonstration, calling for tolerance and freedom. On Monday an anti-terror rally in Paris is expected to draw a million people including both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Perhaps these are all signs of the world’s move towards tolerance, dialogue and openness? But humans seem to love to hate, so I won’t hold my breath just yet…