Attacks a public outburst of long-simmering conflict

“The pen is mightier than the sword”.

Yeah, right. Ask the employees of Charlie Habdo who were shot dead in broad daylight what they have to say about it.

Chances are they’ll tell you the only instances when a pen is mightier than a sword are if those who carry the sword bow down to the power of the pen, or if whoever holds the pen manages to stab with it the sword-bearer in the eye, carotid artery or medulla before getting killed.

Those with any modicum of common sense and knowledge of history know the truth of Mao Tse-Tung’s observation that justice comes from the barrel of a rifle, or that of Stalin, who remarked that death solves all problems – if you kill the man, you solve the problem.

For crying out loud, the Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head for wanting girls to be educated and Christian Europeans saved her life, not Muslim Middle Easterners – and they also murdered a South African doing NGO work along with most of his family! Think about it, can you expect any better treatment from Isis, al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram or any lone wolf sympathiser who seeks to return mankind to the seventh century under Islamic sharia law?

The sad truth is that while we make a big deal about speaking truth to power, power doesn’t actually like being spoken to and will take measures to protect itself from being contradicted, even if it means killing those who dare to voice an opinion. Evil flourishes wherever good men sit on their butts and do nothing.

But as long as there are still people who fight to tell the truth and if necessary lampoon the ridiculousness of what the powerful do and say, we have the spark of hope that enough people will pay attention and band together to make things better.

While I do not believe in mocking other people’s beliefs and have always done my utmost to protect them, it is a fact that mankind has been fighting religious wars for millennia. What we see today is merely a public outburst in what has been a behind-the-scenes conflict which has been going on since the Ottoman empire, as the guarantor and premier expander of Islam in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, was disbanded.

Muslim extremists from terrorists groups, their financial and ideological backers and Islamic fundamentalists seek the worldwide expansion of Islam. The difference is that Isis and al-Qaeda along with other like-minded groups have brought it in the open, with the aim of provoking a third world war through global religious conflict.

The question facing us is whether we will oblige them, or solve this peacefully – the best way being for religious leaders to get together for negotiations so as to stop the madness and end discord, though I don’t think they ever will.

The differences between Europe and the Middle East are that one is predominantly Christian, while the other is Muslim, and Europe is tolerant of other religions, while the majority of Middle Eastern countries are not. This is the case in Iran and Saudi Arabia, where persecution of non-Muslims is rife and backed up by official sanction.

I’ve never mocked the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), but like it or not, je suis (I am) Charlie.

A concerned Christian, Port Elizabeth

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