SBS opposes all forms of religious fundamentalism and condemns without reservation the massacre that took place in Paris. What we see unfolding is a battle of ideas but ideas must be fought with a pen and not violence.
We stand in solidarity with all those around the world who struggle against religious fundamentalism and racism and for universal human rights.
After the massacre in Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, expressing indignation, as so many are doing, is not enough.
A quick look at the English-speaking media shows that whilst many condemn the violence itself, they also assert that Charlie Hebdo courted (and maybe deserved?) a strong response from “Muslims”. Charlie’s regular cartoonists did not spare Islam, any other religion, nor fanatics and bigots.
This trend in the media requires our attention. Apparently secularists, agnostics and atheists must keep silent and do not deserve the kind of respect that believers are entitled to; nor can they enjoy free speech to the same degree.
In the name of “respect” of religions and of the religious sentiments of believers, it is indeed the fanatical religious-Right that is being supported and given centre stage. Meanwhile, those who are on the forefront of countering armed fundamentalists are left to their own devices. It is high time to give these secularists prominence, to recognise their courage and their political clarity and to stop labelling them “Islamophobic”.
In October 2014, secularists – including atheists, agnostics and believers from many countries, in particular many Muslim-majority countries, met in London to denounce the religious-Right and to demand being seen as its alternative. It is high time to learn from their analysis and lived experiences.
The tragic massacre in Paris will undoubtedly give fuel to the traditional xenophobic far-Right and the immediate danger is an increase in racism, marginalization and exclusion of people of Muslim descent in Europe and further. We do not want to witness “anti-Muslim witch hunts” nor do we welcome the promotion of “moderate” Islamists by governments as official political partners. What is needed is a straightforward analysis of the political nature of armed Islamists: they are an extreme-Right political force, working under the guise of religion and they aim at political power. They should be combated by political means and mass mobilisation, not by giving extra privileges to any religion.
Their persistent demand for the extension of blasphemy laws around the world is a real danger for all. France has a long – and now growingly endangered – tradition of secularism; which allows dissent from religions and the right to express this dissent. It has had a rich tradition to mock and caricature powers that be – religious or otherwise. Let us keep this hard-won right which cost so many lives in history, and, alas, still does – as Charlie Hebdo’s twelve dead and numerous wounded demonstrate.
Marieme Helie Lucas, Algerian Sociologist and Secularism is a Women’s Issue Founder
Maryam Namazie, Iranian-born Spokesperson of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, One Law for All and Fitnah and Co-host of Bread and Roses TV
Karima Bennoune, Professor and Martin Luther King Jr. Hall Research Scholar, University of California, Davis School of Law
Albert Beale, Peace News
Ali al-Razi, Ex-Muslim Forum
Amel Grami, Professor at the Tunisian University of Manouba
Anissa Daoudi, Birmingham University, Head of Arabic Section
Ayesha Imam, Coordinator of the Nigerian Women’s Rights Organisation BAOBOB
Braema Mathi, Human Rights Activist, Singapore
Chris Moos, Secularist Activist and Researcher
Christine M. ShellskaPresident of Atheist Alliance International
Codou Bop, Groupe de recherche sur les femmes et les mois au Sénégal
Daayiee Abdullah, Imam of Light of Reform Mosque
Deeyah Khan, Norwegian Filmmaker and Founder/CEO of Fuuse
Esam Shoukry, Defence of Secularism and Civil Rights of Iraq and Left Worker Communist Party of Iraq
Fahima Hashim, Director of Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre in Sudan
Fariborz Pooya, Founder of the Iranian Secular Society and Co-host of Bread and Roses TV
Farzana Hassan, Writer
Fatou Sow, International Director of Women Living Under Muslim Laws
Fiammetta Venner, Writer and Filmmaker
Gita Sahgal, Founder of Centre for Secular Space
Gona Saed, Campaigner and Activist
Hala Aldosari, Women’s Health Researcher and Women’s Rights Women’s Activist
Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizens Web
Houzan Mahmoud, Kurdish Women’s Rights Activist
Imad Iddine Habib, Founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco
Inna Shevchenko, Leader of FEMEN
Julie Bindel, Writer
Kate Smurthwaite, Comedian and Activist
Laura Guidetti, Marea Italian Feminist Review
Lila Ghobady, Iranian Writer and Filmmaker
Magdulien Abaida, Libyan Activist and President of Hakki (My Right) Organization for Women Rights
Meredith Tax, Centre for Secular Space
Mina Ahadi, International Committees against Stoning and Execution
Nadia El Fani, Tunisian Filmmaker
Nina Sankari, Vice President of Atheist Coalition of Poland
Nira Davis-Yuval, Founder member of Women Against Fundamentalism and the International Research Network on Women in Militarized Conflict Zones
Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters
Ramin Forghani, Founder of the Ex-Muslims of Scotland and Vice-Chair of the Scottish Secular Society
Safak Pavey, MP for Istanbul, Turkish Parliament
Sally Armstrong, Journalist
Sara Hakemi, Secular Greens and Giordano Bruno Foundation
Siamak Bahari, Political Activist and Editor of Children First Publication
Sultana Kamal, Bangladeshi Human Rights Activist
Taslima Nasrin, Bangladeshi-born Writer
Tehmina Kazi, Director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy
Soad Baba Aïssa, Founder of Association pour la mixité, l’égalité et la laïcité
Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society
Waleed Al-Husseini, Palestinian blogger and Founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims of France
Yasmin Rehman, Women’s Rights Advocate
Image credit: Charlie Hebdo’s website