Following the latest terrorist attack in Paris, innumerable discussions on various subjects were triggered. New suggestions and measures were brought to the agenda for the fight against terrorism. Calls that have been given for decades for people of different religions to live together in peace and in equal conditions were repeated once again. The fact that there are points lacking and faulty practices in this idea was also brought up once more.
Security forces organized raids on terrorist cells in France, Belgium and Germany. Some suspects were shot and most were detained.
Racists in EU countries were also active. The "certified racists" of Belgium immediately exploited the situation and presented some ridiculous suggestions to the public, such as: "those wearing headscarves should be banned from driving." Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), the "intellectual" racist group in Germany, boasted the highest number of participants since its foundation in its latest demonstration in Dresden, which totalled 30,000.
While 30,000 people were shouting their racist slogans against Islam in Dresden, a refugee from Eritrea was stabbed to death in a dark corner of the city. In the German town of Dormagen, a name we recognize because of the incidents that took place there, racists attacked the same mosque for the second time as part of their third demonstration.
Muslims were offended once again while listening to the recommendations of "standing against terrorism," as if they were not siding with peace and brotherhood.
Meetings against terrorism were organized in many EU countries, particularly in Germany. State authorities posed for cameras arm in arm with Muslims during the demonstrations. Large numbers of Muslims seeing those photos had to watch some unknown individuals take advantage of the Paris terror, with claims of representing Muslims.
Meanwhile, unfortunately, racist attacks on mosques and other Muslim associations continued all over Europe. In short, a Turkish saying proved its wisdom once again: "Eski hamam, eski taş" (Old hamam, old stones), which means nothing has changed.
We cursed the attack. We united in meetings. Everyone behaved as if they had performed their duty until the next bloody attack.
But we should not keep hiding our heads in the sand.
We should not postpone initiating a discussion for which we are already late. We were actually supposed to initiate it following the caricature scandal in Denmark.
The Charlie Hebdo massacre does have to be a turning point in this sense.
Is drawing and publishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad, which Muslims find offensive, really one of the prerequisites of the freedom of the press and freedom of expression?
Out of the world's population, 32 percent is Christian, 23 percent Muslim, 15 percent Hindu, 7.1 percent is Buddhist, 0.2 percent is Jewish and 16.3 percent does not subscribe to any religion. From this data, we can say that there are 2.2 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, 500 million Buddhists and 14 million Jews in the world. Additionally, there are 400 million people who follow traditional religions in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australia. And 58 million people practice other religions including Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Tenrikyo and Zoroastrianism.
The data also reveal that 1.1 billion people do not belonging to any religious group. As the figures clearly show, the issue is not only the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad. Are we not obliged to show the same respect we show toward the freedom of expression and press to the values of billions of people?
Is our "modern world" behaving too roughly towards the prophets, religious symbols and holy scriptures of Christians, Muslims, Hindus and others? From this perspective, can we not say that the caricatures of Muhammad, who is a sacred figure to 1.6 billion Muslims, have the purpose of causing insult? And if they are motivated to insult, then is it responsible to defend that which offends the sacred values of many people in the name of freedom of expression and the press?
Why can't those who expect understanding from 1.6 billion people show understanding instead of offending them?
Especially in some EU countries where Muslims are in the minority, does publishing caricatures of Mohammad that Muslims find offensive, and then hiding behind the freedom of art and artists, not mean increasing the bias of the majority in these countries against Muslims, which paves the way for anti-Muslim sentiments? Is it ethical?
Whether you agree with my questions or not, politicians in the EU capital Brussels and other EU countries must discuss these topics.
We all side with freedom of expression and freedom of the press. However, we must determine and define the danger posed by the exploitation of these liberties that undermine world peace. Islamophobia is developing as a result of the exploitation of freedom of expression and the press. We must stop our indifference towards this fact.