Aptly described as “the survivors’ issue,” the new edition of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo reportedly “sold out within minutes,” though for this week, the now so tragically famous publication will come out in five million copies instead of the normal print run of 60,000. But since the magazine’s defiant staff once again put a caricature of Mohammad on the cover, there are already – once again – plenty of complaints, accusations and threats. An Al Jazeera contributor sharply criticized that “Charlie Hebdo continued with its provocative editorial line” and failed to respect “the red lines” and “all of the calls issued by Muslim clerics.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah, who had enjoyed their photo opportunity during last Sunday’s solidarity march in Paris, rushed to condemn the new Charlie Hebdo cartoons, while the International Union of Muslim Scholars ominously warned of “dire consequences to the continued insults to the Prophet.”
It is 2015, and Muslim leaders once again tell their fellow-believers that drawings in an originally fairly obscure European publication are such a terrible insult to Islam that outrage and even “dire consequences” are justified.
But what is not an insult to Islam is that in 2015, Saudi Arabia, an “Islamic state based on principles prescribed by the Qur’an” and governed by a monarchy claiming a “deep sense of responsibility toward Islam,” is putting on a weekly spectacle of sadism in the name of Islam. Via Amnesty International, here is an eyewitness account of what happened in front of the al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah last Friday, and what the pious Saudi regime wants to happen there for another 19 weeks every Friday:
“When the worshippers saw the police van outside the mosque, they knew someone would be flogged today.
They gathered in a circle. Passers-by joined them and the crowd grew. But no one knew why the man brought forward was about to be punished. Is he a killer, they asked? A criminal? Does he not pray?
Raif Badawi had been brought to the square in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah just after midday. […] He was handcuffed and shackled but his face was not covered – everyone could see his face.
Still shackled, Raif stood up in the middle of the crowd. […]
A security officer approached him from behind with a huge cane and started beating him.
Raif raised his head towards the sky, closing his eyes and arching his back. He was silent, but you could tell from his face and his body that he was in real pain.
The officer beat Raif on his back and legs, counting the lashes until they reached 50.
The punishment took about 5 minutes. It was very quick, with no break in between lashes.
When it was over, the crowd shouted, ‘Allah-hu Akbar! Allah-hu Akbar!’”
Yes, Allah-hu Akbar, it is 2015, and a father of three can be sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes by a pious Muslim regime that will drag him in front of a crowd of its pious Muslim subjects to have him flogged publicly for the unspeakable crime of having tried to encourage political and social debate with his entirely reasonable, if rather restrained, writings.
Are there any Muslim leaders, any Muslim scholars, who consider this medieval barbarity an insult to Islam? Are there any sizeable Muslim grass root movements to protest against Saudi sadism – the regular public floggings, the beheadings on “Chop-chop square,” the absurd trials of witches – all of it justified as required by Islam?
Apparently not. Nothing that Muslims do in the name of Islam can be as insulting to their religion as the drawings of European cartoonists.