I’ve never been a fan of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper that published a series of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but I switched my position during my brief visit to the Voice of America (VOA) building in Washington, D.C., on January 7, 2015.
I left New York for D.C. at 5:00 a.m., along with my son, Soborno Isaac, a two-year-old chemistry genius. He was scheduled to be interviewed by VOA at 11:00 a.m., and we arrived in the capital some 30 minutes late. My heart was racing as I parked my car in front of the Smithsonian Museum.
Wondering if Sabrina Dona would still be waiting for us, I ran toward the VOA elevator, carrying my son. The security officers stopped us and asked us to go through the metal detector. As we were complying, I noticed that many of them were staring at us. Then, when they were searching little Soborno’s body, I realized that something wrong.
My eyes turned to a TV monitor on the wall adjacent to the metal detector. I saw the two terrorist brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, armed with AK-47s, forcing their way into the Charlie Hebdo building. I had seen a similar incident on December 16, when seven terrorists entered a Pakistan Army School and killed over 130 school children. My whole body quivered and my heart dropped; I hoped with all my heart that this time, the perpetrators were not Muslims this time. After all, I am a Muslim. However, not 10 seconds later, I heard “Allahu Akbar,” and my heart broke into a million pieces. The security person who was still searching little Soborno Isaac looked at me and asked, “What does that mean?” I did not reply. I was speechless.
However, that is what I should have said: “Allahu Akbar” used to mean “God is great.” However, today it means violence, blood and terrorism.
It means, “I’m about to fire a rocket from Gaza to Israel to kill innocent people.”
It means, “I’m about to use hijacked planes to fly into the Twin Towers.”
It means, “I’m about to kill hundreds of schoolchildren.”
It means, “I’m about to kill journalists.”
The Kouachi brothers proved me right.
They started shooting while shouting “Allahu Akbar,” killing nine journalists at a meeting, as well as Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim police officer. When I saw them shooting innocent people, I cried out loud, tears trickling from my disbelieving eyes.
I thought: Kouachi brothers, you are not Muslims, you are not human beings; you are animals, you are disgusting bastards.
On my way back to New York later that day, I kept asking myself one question: What lesson did the brothers hope to teach France by killing its journalists? What was it they hoped the French would learn from this terrorism? How could they kill them for making jokes about Muhammad? You killed journalists to make Allah happy? You just made him look worse than Hitler.
You killed them to make the Prophet happy? You made him look like a terrorist.
You killed them to force France to respect Islam? You just killed 1.8 billion Muslims.
You wanted to kill freedom of speech? You made me into Charlie Hebdo.
Yes, now I’m Charlie Hebdo, although I was once its critic. In fact, I have always been opposed to its cartoons because they make the Prophet Muhammad look bad.
Do Charlie Hebdo cartoons present the truth about the Prophet? No. Should we be angry? Absolutely not. Why not? To answer this, we need to understand this equation: 1 Jew = 100 Muslims.
Let’s use an analogy: The total population of the earth at present is over 7.2 billion. Of this, 25 percent is Muslim (1.8 billion), whereas 0.22% is Jewish (14 million).
Between 1901 and 2014, Nobel Prizes were awarded 567 times to 889 people in six fields: physics, chemistry, medicine, peace, literature and economics. The number of Jewish Nobel Prize winners is 197, and the number of Muslim winners is 11.
Simple arithmetic tells us that exactly 25%, or 216, of the laureates should have been Muslims because they comprise 25% of the world’s population. On the other hand, Jews should not have received more than two or three Nobels. A group constituting 0.22% of the global population won 22% of the Nobel Prizes, whereas a group representing 25% won only 1.27%.
The question is obvious: Why such a gap? The answer is even more obvious: the education of young Muslims focuses primarily on religion. In 1980, Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam made a modest proposal to empower Muslims to re-enter the world of math, science, and technology to prevent them from becoming marginalized. He reminded Muslims of the consequences of neglecting education and of focusing too much on religion, and of repressing freedom of speech. However, bitter Muslims returned the favor by declaring him a non-Muslim.
In protest, he left Pakistan for Europe.
If Salam were alive today, he would not be surprised by the events of January 7 to 9 or that even Europe has become the target of Muslim terrorists. Instead of denouncing such terrorism, many Muslim nations around the world celebrated this attack as revenge on journalists for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Junaid Thorne, a Muslim preacher, said, “If you want to enjoy freedom of speech, expect others to enjoy freedom of action.”
I disagree, not because I think that the Prophet Muhammad should be insulted but because I have the freedom to boycott publications that insult my Prophet.
Muslims who kill are completely wrong.
Killing is not the way to achieve revenge.
For meaningful retribution, teach your kids to love Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein so that they will emulate them, instead of destroying the Twin Towers, killing schoolchildren and massacring journalists; eliminate all madrassas and build schools like Columbia and Cambridge in every city; invest in research so that more and more Muslims can win Nobel Prizes to normalize the equation to 1 Jew = 1 Muslim. Only then will Europe, America, Israel and the rest of the non-Muslim world no longer regard Islam as a religion of terror. They will see it for what it really is: a religion of educated people and of peace.
Peaceful Muslims should understand that so-called jihadists unleashed a terrible evil against Islam by killing the Charlie Hebdo journalists, Jewish shoppers, and French police. Hence, Muslims should unite to identify the growing jihadist tumor and to unleash education as a means to eliminate this tumor. If they unite, maybe they can convince the bad Muslims, especially those who have been raised to be religious fanatics, to understand that there is more to life than religion, for example mathematics and science. Abdus Salam’s exhortation is appropriate here: Good Muslims of the world, let’s unite to unleash education to defeat the Muslim terrorists before it is too late.
The writer is a CRISP scholar at New York University.