Freedom of Speech or Religious Sensitivity? (RELS 348)

This article titled “Paris Attack Exposes Old Colonial Wounds” written by Olivia Ward on January 7th 2015, explores how the attack of Charlie Hebdo has brought back the aspect of differences between the freedom of speech and religious sensitivity. The author of this article describes how the aftermath of the murder of Hebdo due to his work in a French satirical magazine in regards to the highly covered radical Islamic group. Ward also compares the how the current events directly correlate to France’s colonial history. She states that, “…there is no straight line between its often disadvantaged but diverse and largely assimilated Muslim population and the jihadists who aim to terrorize Western countries in the name of Islam.” The historical background of the relationship between France and Islam dates back to 1912 where France was able to establish and empire which was snatched from the Ottoman naval vessels. From there France claimed Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, but due to a political inequality in Algeria led to anger and unrest which led to a war of independence that resulted in a major loss of life and the French exiting the area. Coincidently many Muslims were beginning to immigrate into France. This immigration did not come with a welcome as the following generation of the immigrants found it difficult to find acceptance of the French locals, which resulted in high unemployment rates and no to little social mobility, which finally led to many altercations of violent protests and outburst of anger.

Along with the issues that France has had with Islam, France has had an issue with religion as a whole. Since the days of colonization, France has also had an issue with its national religion of Catholicism. In the earliest days, Catholicism has its say in the educational system, government institutions, and everyday life as a whole. This led to an internal revolt against Catholicism and the Catholic Church as a whole. The revolt against the church created a secular French republic who were anti-clerical led the movement to separate church and state which finally broke the ties between the church and the educational and government institutions. After stating all these facts it is important to highlight the authors’ closing statement, “…France’s relations with its Muslims may be reaching a turning point.”

In Uwe Siemon-Netto’s book, “The Triumph of the Absurd: A Reporters Love for the abandoned people of Vietnam” it states that, “Perhaps it’s because they have seen too much of the unsavory side of human nature and have also seen some of the skeletons in organized religion’s closets. It becomes hard to hang on to religion of any kind. More often than not this irreverence is a prickly covering hiding a deep-seated commitment to a deity and to religious values.” (Siemon-Netto, 2014:63) This statement is relevant to the aforementioned article because I believe that the religions of today is thin skinned in regards to their ideals. Those who are deeply rooted can no longer intelligently defend their religious ideology but rather twist and stretch the real truths of their religion and/or take up arms to make their point. Which in my personal opinion just hurts their cause. It is important for individuals to know that when analyzing religion, it is important to take a step back and understand what is being put forth without bias. Without bias, it will allow people read and listen to peoples work on religion and understand that most of the information put forth is not a direct attack.

#uwreligions #rels348

-Mr. A

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