THE attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper journalists, which ended up with 12 journalists murdered in cold blood, stunned the world.
We later heard of millions across France converging in solidarity to mourn the tragedy that had taken place in their country.
Many opinions have flared about the incident, some proclaiming that the newspaper was provocative and that they abused their freedom of expression etc. That is not my line of argument. Twelve people were killed and the perpetrators are said to have done it in the name of righteousness, they were defending Islam.
I am not a Muslim, but I appreciate there is a common thread to most religions. Religions are supposed to be about love and tolerance.
You tolerate and love those from other religions not because you agree with them, but because you realise that to perpetuate hate and violence on them would not only be a misrepresentation of your god, but even more importantly, would hamper your efforts to win them over to your way of thinking.
In Christianity there is what is called the Great Commission, which is meant to form the crux of a believer’s life.
It basically calls on Christians to “win” others to their way of thinking through positive persuasion such as unconditional love, acts of kindness etc.
This way of doing things is very similar to other religions.
What society needs to realise is that the fundamentals of religion in most cases are not difficult to decipher.
The so-called zealots who killed the French journalists and many others who hurt and kill innocent people, were not motivated by a righteous cause.
They were simply using the organised vehicle which is religion to further their own selfish political and other lusts for power and dominance which are perpetuated by hatred.
The real blasphemy in my books is not drawing offensive cartoons, but misrepresenting a god that is sacred to so many.
What god would motivate his followers to kill others in cold blood on the basis of differing opinions?
I am in no way undermining the offensive nature of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, but what I am asserting is that the violent retaliations are perpetuated not by people who are devout in their allegiance to their god, but by opportunistic extremists who are motivated by hatred and know that to act under the guise of religion will lend what I call a pseudo integrity to their cause.
Can you imagine the Prophet Mohammed or Jesus Christ instructing his followers to violently murder innocent civilians?
The thought is absurd at the very least.
Then why do we continue to accept the stance of the criminals who misrepresent the religions of multitudes? I am moved by the millions who stood in solidarity with those slain journalists, but I will be moved more if those whose religions are being misrepresented and butchered of all credibility congregate in their millions and refuse to be used as a scapegoat to perpetuate hatred and violence.
As I mentioned before, religions are about love and tolerance. Their aim is to foster harmonious relationships amongst all people simply because their Creator is one.
The fundamental principle of my religion is to have a changed heart that seeks to do good to all people at all times.
This “changed heart” does not seek to inflict revenge when it has been offended, but tries, even if it might be difficult, to forgive.
Some people might not find resonance with such “softness” and that is their right, but under no circumstances should any religion be thwarted to fit the selfish aims of any individuals.