Of course it was right to show solidarity with the French in the wake of the massacre at the offices of the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo.” Western, pluralistic societies must be vigilant in protecting the right of free speech.
But we must remember that tolerance also is a virtue of a free society.
Leaders from around the world and millions of marchers gathered in Paris and other cities to declare, “Je suis Charlie” – “I am Charlie” – following the brutal murder by Islamist terrorists of cartoonists and editors at the magazine and police who tried to protect them. The show of support was both a commitment to free speech and a reproach to the primitive, radical fundamentalism of the terrorists.
But many in the Muslim world did not view the massacre and the response by Western nations in such black-and-white terms. While many condemned the murders, thousands of marchers throughout much of the Middle East and in Muslim communities in Europe held demonstrations of their own to protest the depiction of Mohammad by the satirists at “Charlie Hebdo.”
They found the cartoons offensive – and why wouldn’t they? That was the intention of the artists at “Charlie Hebdo.” The cartoons were designed to offend, to provoke, to rile the Muslim community in France and around the world