what is really on our minds and in our hearts
Cornelis Hulsman (Editor-in-chief): The attack in Paris was an act of terrorism. Nothing justifies taking away lives of people, even if one believes they were offensive. Offensives should be responded to in non-violent ways only. The terrorists achieved what they wanted. They killed people who offended their religious beliefs. The response is in deeper division between peoples of different religions and cultures in society. That makes us all losers. Don’t let terrorists draw us in such polarization. Khaled Hassan has been working with us since October 2014. We did not ask him to write a contribution for Arab-West Report. This came spontaneously from his heart and we fully support the views he is expressing here. It is absolutely terrible what happened but don’t give in to polemics. Reject all violence and keep communicating!
NOTE: This piece has remained unedited to remain true to the author’s wording and emotion.
Article full text:
I write not as an Egyptian, nor as a Muslim, but as your fellow human being, like the rest of you: I’ve watched the news of what we all refer to as an act of terror in Paris, an act of terror that years ago I could have thought of as something that is very unlikely to happen in Cairo, Egypt, where I live. But, unfortunately this is not the case, for we have been witnessing such acts taking place on Egyptian soil, some were very close to where I live that you would really taste the “Terror” it leaves behind. It might last for a few minutes or days or even a few months, yet, it ends with dead bodies, broken hearts, and families who mourn their loved ones, and of course, an angry scared crowd looking for someone to blame.
I can not claim that I know how it feels like to lose a loved one to war or terror, because, I simply haven’t. But, I sure know how it feels like to lose a loved one, and I can only imagine the bitterness of it when you feel that this person has been taken away from you because someone decided that this person should die, believing that this is the will of God. There shall be no more Christmases, no more birthdays, no more having this person around only because someone made the decision to take him or her away!!
I don’t care to whom you pray, I don’t care if you go to a mosque on Fridays or a Church on Sundays or a Synagogue on Saturdays. I only know one thing: that you are God’s creation, and if his will was not to have you in this world, he wouldn’t have created you. And if God wanted us all to be Muslims or Christians or Jews, he could have created us all the same, but, he obviously didn’t. He wanted us to have different colors of skin, and to speak different languages, and to be part of different cultures, for the beauty of this world lies in it’s diversity, I don’t think a person can live on eating one type of food, he can survive by doing so, but, the difference between survival and living is tremendous and some of us are just surviving in their shells and refusing to open up to the world.
It was hard for me as a person who is very passionate and starting a career in foreign policy to make the decision to write this article. I thought maybe an analysis of the situation is what most people like me would do, but, I think we all have had enough analysis, so, maybe it is time for us to open up and say what is really on our minds and in our hearts, we have all read way too many articles, reports, and studies analyzing and doing all sorts of things that we come across while watching the news or reading a newspaper, maybe the world doesn’t need anymore analysts, maybe all it needs is for us just to communicate, maybe that is how we will work things out!!
I was shocked but not surprised by the acts of terror in France. I have seen it happening, and -putting all studies and forecasts aside- I just have a feeling it will continue to happen all around the world, this is one of the times when we all wish we are wrong or even ask for a miracle!! I’ve asked myself a million times, why is all this happening, and the only thing I can think of is because many people and countries think that they are delegates, delegates of God to protect his will, delegates of democracy and liberty, and to them I say: who appointed you?! What gives you the right to yell “Allahu Akbar” while taking a life?! And who told you that by bombing another country you’re helping it’s people and offering them democracy on a plate?! Who appointed you the guardians of God’s will or the guardians of democracy?! I honestly believe that this is the talk of mad men, and their doing shall leave behind nothing but pain and suffering.
I believe that it is ironically sad to see a Muslim killing another Muslim in the name of God, but, maybe this is a message to all of us, Ahmed Merabet, the Muslim police officer who was killed during the incident, was a man who was simply doing his job, he died trying to help others and to keep the beautiful city of Paris safe and secure, this time we see a Muslim bringing peace and security to the world getting killed by another Muslim with radical beliefs. One question to be asked: does this make Islam a good or a bad religion?! Or maybe we should just realize that there are good Muslims and bad ones, just like anything else in life!!
There is one way for all of us to get out of this dark tunnel, and that is to think of the greater good of mankind, freedom of speech is not the end, but, it is the means to an end, it is the journey to a destination, and that destination is the well-being of all mankind, I can never justify the horrible doing of a terrorist, because I believe that there can never be a reason for someone to take someone’s life, and I also believe that those radical Islamists don’t need a reason to do what they do best, they will always spill blood, but, I just want to ask a question: what good are you doing this world by a drawing that insults a group of people?! I am sure that there are so many things that we can make fun of, but, at the end: if you decide to draw something of Prophet Mohamed or Jesus or any holy symbol to a group of people, I am sure that you will still find a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim who believes that you don’t deserve to die for it or maybe you will come across a person who is willing to take a bullet in your defense, just like Ahmed!! I wish we all can be a bit more caring and united against this terror, maybe then we might just not end up as a bunch of losers!! Je suis Charlie, Je suis Ahmed.
Khaled Hassan is the public relations representative for the Center for Arab-West Understanding, Cairo, Egypt.