Noel Muscat OFM
The world is still reeling from shock and consternation after the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris on 7 January. Yet again Islamic fundamentalism is bent on showing the world that it will never tolerate any kind of criticism of its fundamentalist beliefs, even if it means using blind and savage violence and indeed even facing death (or martyrdom in Islamic jargon).
Let us call a spade a spade. Islamic militants are on the run in Europe. They are sowing terror. They are savage beasts. The methods they use are ruthless and inhuman. They are to be condemned outright and brought to justice wherever they are found. They are slaves of a pseudo-religion that they have been brainwashed with, thanks to the incessant preaching of fundamentalist institutions spread all over Europe and financed by Islamic friends of the West.
The value of freedom is sacrosanct. So is freedom of expression. Millions are clamouring to defend this value. However, few really know what freedom and values are all about. Europe is in a crisis of values, because it is a valueless society. What it considers to be freedom is, in fact, another kind of slavery. Slavery to mankind’s self-gratification and power to do whatever one likes, to say whatever one wants, to express whatever one feels. So far, so good. But what can we say when it entails hurting the most sacred sensibilities of other persons? When it means attacking the most sacrosanct values of humanity and religion that have built up civilisation? Unfortunately we are so blind that we are not distinguishing freedom of expression from freedom of mutual self-respect.
I insist. The massacre at Charlie Hebdo was an act of savage beasts. It was diabolical, if we want to believe that the devil exists. But will it lead us to reflect upon what we are doing to our own sacrosanct values? I have seen some satirical drawings regarding Christianity that have shocked me as a believer. I will never dream of shooting journalists, of course, but if I could I would take them to court for having insulted MY God. I am not speaking about my Pope, or my Church. I would accept vulgar caricatures even of the Pope as part of the art of living in a “secular” continent where religion is seen as an outmoded slavery. But not placing a limit to freedom when it comes to mutual respect is also slavery, a dangerous slavery that smacks of secular fundamentalism.
So, when the noise and din of the current protests, justified and necessary, will die down, I hope somebody will start reflecting upon the subtle difference between savage slavery and savage freedom. In this battle there are no winners. There will only be losers. Losers of human dignity. This is the dirty war being fought on the altar of a free civilisation today. We all stand to lose it.