Farzan Faramarzi is an Iranian journalist and human rights activist. A native of Shiraz Iran, he's a senior at Boise State University and senior producer at Boise State's University Television Productions. He's also a contributing video journalist for Boise Weekly.
In the shadow of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo and this week's BW insight from our own contributing editorial cartoonists, Faramarzi shared the following insight:
One night when you are at your home with your family, watching your favorite TV shows, somebody knocks on your door. You open the door, and you see a desperate and hopeless family.
They explain to you what they had been through, and they have evidence to prove it to you. They look like good people, and you decide to help them out. So, you let them come in and you show your hospitality.
You want to help them to move on and make a new life. After a few days, they start arguing with you about your personal stuff. Furthermore they complain about everything such as your TV size! Or why you drink beer with your ham sandwich.
You think they are invading your privacy, but they have their own reasons for their behavior! They don’t like the TV series you watch, because they have kids, and your favorite show is not good for a young kid! They believe beer is harmful not just for your body, but also for your brain. They ridicule your culture, your beliefs, and your habits, yet they can’t take a simple joke.
Little by little, you realize your home has become a place where your guests had fled from a while ago. You are thinking: They were unhappy in the first place, so they left their home to find a better place for refuge. Now they got what they are looking for, yet they make you, their host, unhappy! That’s not a good sign. What would you do in this situation?
That was not a fiction. The story you just read was the history of the people who came to the West, usually from Islamic countries. They were looking for a better life and freedom, yet after a while instead of appreciation for the west’s hospitality the get involved in terrorism activities.
They have excuses for what civilized people call it “Terrorism,” and they call it “Sharia law.” They believe they are fulfilling Islam’s principle or as France terrorists said “The Prophet has been avenged.”
The latest example of these savages’ activities happened on January 7th at Charlie Hebdo, the satirical newspaper in Paris, where three Muslim-terrorists killed 12 people including the editor and celebrated cartoonists.
Indeed not all Muslims are bad people, yet many of them are somehow involved in the act of terror or they support terrorism. According to IBTimes, we had 9,936 Ebola cases in 2014, and the people who actually have been killed by Ebola was 4,877. In 2013, according to ABC News, “Nearly 18,000 people lost their lives in 2013 as a result of terrorist attacks...more than a third, 6,378, occurred in Iraq. Afghanistan suffered the second-most deaths, followed by Pakistan.”
It would be so naïve to reduce what happened in France to just three young men. They represented an ideology, an ideology based on fear, terror and intolerance. Less than a day after the Paris magazine massacre, USA Today, published an opposing view, written by Anjem Choudary, who as USA Today described “is a radical Muslim cleric in London and a lecturer in Sharia.”
In his article he directly quoted Prophet Mohammad: “Muhammad writing, ‘Whoever insults a Prophet, kill him.’” This article clearly sheds light on what and how Muslims think, and what’s Islam asks of them. Like many other religion principles, some Muslims may not practice the act of killing infidels or “whoever insults a Prophet,” yet it is a part of their beliefs.
Anjem Choudary, blames cartoonists and France government for this massacre, and rises a question “why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims, thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk?”
This Muslim cleric, instead of condemning the terrorists, blames the cartoonists! He didn’t get the point: Charlie Hebdo is a satirical newspaper which publishes many cartoons, not just about Islam or Prophet Mohammad but about Popes and Presidents as well, yet the only people who couldn’t take a simple joke are Muslims.
Why didn't Christians or political parties react to Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, yet Muslims did? Because the concept of freedom of expression doesn’t exist in Islam. In fact this concept doesn’t exist in many religions; yet in civilized society, people learned to practice this valuable concept. Alas, many Muslims don’t want to face the reality, and accept the concept of freedom of expression. Nevertheless, nothing's so sacred that it cannot criticize. In contrast, Muslim writers, and cartoonist can criticize Charlie Hebdo too, not to murder them. Sure they can kill cartoonist, but their thoughts.
Having respect for other beliefs and ideas is a good thing, yet that same respect shouldn’t prevent us from criticizing an idea, belief or ideology. Bear in mind, not all the ideas and ideologies deserve respect. Do you have respect for K.K.K or Nazis? Anjem Choudary has a right to write about what he thinks, yet do Christians have the same right in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia or Iran to write about their religions?
Maybe we should be afraid of a religion that can’t take a cartoon or a joke. Maybe we should be afraid of a religion that can’t tolerate others opinions. A religion that may provoke people to kill or abuse others is scary.
Indeed we should be afraid of a type of Islam that inspires the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Africa. We should be afraid of a type of Islam that denies the right of education for Bahai’s in Iran. We should be afraid of terrorists who misuse justice, democracy and freedom in the West and the same harm western citizens who welcomed them to a civilized society and showed them respect.
- Farzan Faramarzi