When dealing with a popularized event such as the terrorist attack on a French satirical publication, it is imperative to withhold judgment of another’s actions without full consideration of their perspective. You would think this statement would be taken for granted, but the conflict surrounding the Charlie Hebdo publication demonstrates the manner by which people, separated by ways of thinking, are hasty to deem themselves right and others wrong.
It is important to note that this is certainly not the first conflict between Muslims and those depicting Muhammad. In 2008, Kurt Westergaard a cartoonist for a Danish publication, Jyllands-Posten, faced death threats multiple times, including by a 28-year-old Somali Muslim who broke into his house, for earlier depicting an image of Muhammad. Furthermore, Charlie Hebdo had been the target of criticism from the Muslim community in years past.
Depicting Muhammad is offensive to a religion which commands 23% of the world population, so there is reason for their displeasure with a French satirical publication that contradicts one of their core values.
Charlie Hebdo, however, has a right and an obligation as a publication to publish what they see as necessary to send a message, even if it is offensive. Depicting Muhammad continuously, as well as in the wake of a terrorist attack on their publication, does seem provocative, but the necessity for them to show that their free speech remains ninfluenced by violence prevails.
The Muslim community is correct in being offended, but it is unfortunate that a few had to take such offense as to become violent. Despite this, there is no real need for Muslims to pay attention and be offended (especially to the point of violence) by a small publication in France. But more frankly, there is certainly no good reason for a small publication in France to offend such a large number of people (especially without thinking of alternatives to get their point across).
(Vince Caruso ’16, Opinions Editor)