A day after 12 people were killed by three gunmen in a deadly attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, one policeman has been seriously injured in a gun battle in Paris. It was Europe’s worst terror attack since the London bombings of July 7, 2005 — the notorious “7/7” explosions aboard three underground trains and a double-decker bus that left 52 civilians and four suicide bombers dead. France shudders today, just as Canada, Australia have in recent weeks, all scenes of vicious terror attacks in the name of Islam. The killers meant to silence the magazine, to stifle expression of opinions that they apparently deemed repugnant. This is time for the entire free world to close its ranks and step up a vigorous campaign against global terrorism. We cannot allow the terrorists to succeed. Each of us, when we defend the rights of others to speak their minds as freely as we speak our own, reaffirms that commitment.
Among those who should come to the forefront in condemning the dastardly crimes and in defending the rights of free speech are the Muslim intelligentsia – academics, artists, writers – for they cannot be unaware that every act of the psychos not only demeans their own religion, but also makes every Muslim a suspect in the eyes of the world. As a result, the passports and visas of every Muslim traveller are closely scrutinised at the immigration desks of airports because of the fear that each one of them may be a killer.
It cannot be gainsaid that for far too long have the sensible people in the community maintained a deafening silence about the atrocities of their co-religionists such as the beheading of journalists in West Asia and the killing of innocent children in Pakistan. A probable reason for their silence is the fear that they themselves may be killed. But such acquiescence in the mindless brutality of the terrorists only emboldens the latter. The judiciary in the democracies also has to sentence the killers far more speedily.