Your religion is yours; mine is mine

Jackie Wilson Asheeke

I am very disturbed about the explosion of violence by young Muslim men against people in France, regardless of what they claim is the reason. They have killed human beings due to their wrong belief that bloody murder is a statement of religious loyalty. Thankfully, such acts are not representative of Islam or Muslims in general. But, Muslim leaders around the world must scream out that this is NOT their faith; that killing people who do not believe as they do is not an act of religious purity, but cold, heartless murder.

I cannot believe that any God smiles when people are beheaded, machine gunned or knifed in His name.

Freedom of religion means just that. Your religion is yours and mine is mine. I am Roman Catholic, but I have no right to impose my beliefs on anyone else. There are modern art pieces, pundits, comedians, and televangelists that have insulted, mocked and defamed the Pope and Catholicism. They have the right to do that; I have the right to continue exercising my faith regardless.

I don’t pretend to know much about Islam. But, I have been raised right by my momma to never put down anyone else’s beliefs and their faith.

The terrorist attacks in France targeting the Charlie Hebdo Magazine are evil. Yes, that is the emotionally loaded word that best captures my outrage and fear (my daughter is in France).

The irreverent and anti-establishment Hebdo magazine has been attacked three times so far. In 2011, 2015, and again in 2020 they were hit in response to cartoons published that depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

From what I understand, Muslims do not believe in ever, ever showing the face of their Holy Prophet. Their Islamic artwork is beautiful, colourful and geometric with intricate swirls and designs, but never a person or face. To depict a face of their Holy Prophet is the deepest sacrilege. I get that. But, that is THEIR belief, not Charlie Hebdo’s and it is not a prescript of the constitution of France.

In the 2015 attack on Hebdo, 12 people were killed. In the recent attack on Catholic Church, three people who had nothing to do with insulting Islam were murdered with a knife. Even if they were the worse insulters Islam, I would still stand on my point. The young man who attacked just now, cut a Catholic Church worker’s head off! What kind of evil is that which masquerades as defending the faith?

In another incident in France, a Muslim student beheaded his teacher who showed something in class that was interpreted to be against Islam. This is insane.

I think to insult someone’s religion is outrageously, unnecessarily wrong and disrespectful. But, I cannot impose my belief systems on others if what they do is within the laws of the land.

When I have visited countries where Sharia Islamic law rules, then I meticulously bow to that. Likewise, when those of Islam are in a country where laws are not based on Sharia, they must bow to that. I will not willingly visit Islamic Republics because I choose not to live under those rules. Likewise, those who need a society governed by their own religious laws, must think hard (or make a serious tolerance plan) before living in places with national laws that may conflict with their religious beliefs.

A few evil men want to frighten everyone else into adhering to their religious beliefs, “or else.” France must never capitulate. If concessions are made to appease Muslim radicals, then where does it stop?

If a religious community is affronted by statements or art or magazine articles or drawings, in France, then they must work to have such things designated as hate speech like Holocaust Denial or praising Nazism. This is possible in Europe. Let the citizens of European countries fight to obtain the same designation about insults to the prophet Muhammad.

On top of all of this, France’s COVID infection rates have skyrocketed and they are back on lockdown for two more weeks. What a perfect storm of misery for the Land of La Marseillaise.

What a challenging world we live in.

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