The Current

After Charlie Hebdo shooting, Muslims seek safe space to talk extremism

Muslims everywhere feel torn between two worlds following the terror attacks in France ... either being condemned as infidels by one side or terrorists on the other. Is there a safe space for Muslims to talk about extremism?
Khalid Albaih is a Sudanese political cartoonist. He drew this cartoon ten minutes after the deadly Paris attack on Charlie Hebdo journalists. He says as a Muslim, he's made to feel like an infidel from some Muslims for not being extreme enough; and made to feel like a terrorist by Westerners for simply being Muslim.
Since - and including - last week's terror attack in Paris, many Muslim lives have been lost to Islamic extremists. And yet, so often in the frenzy of news and security talk, to be a Muslim is to be considered a terrorist sympathizer by non-Muslims ... or an infidel by the attackers. 

These 8 Arab Cartoonists Fight For Freedom Of Expression Every Day -- Mallika Rao, The Huffington Post

It was an extraordinary scene -- as many as a-million-and-a-half people and 40 heads of state, including the leaders of France, Britain, Germany, Mali, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian Authority -- standing together in a show of unity against extremism and support for freedom of expression.

But there are those who wonder if that unity extends to them and how free they are to express their views about last week's gruesome attack on Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French paper.

The attack was a testament in some ways to the power of cartoons -- and so it seems appropriate that within minutes of that attack, cartoonist Khalid Albaih, in Doha, Qatar, started drawing. The simple cartoon he produced sums up the complex feelings many Muslims world wide have experienced in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris.

Khalid Albaih was in Doha, Qatar.

A talented cartoonist like Khalid Albaih can use pictures and captions to help process what happened last week in Paris. But for the rest of us, we're stuck with everyday conversation.

And having that conversation -- though difficult for anyone -- can be uniquely challenging for Muslims themselves. It can be hard to talk about what happened in Paris last week without feeling weighed down by the burden of others' expectations.

We convened a panel of Muslim women today to hear their thoughts and experiences with this.

  • Sheema Khan is a columnist with the Globe and Mail.

  • Sana Saeed is a Canadian freelance producer with Al Jazeera Media Network.

  • Sumayya Tobah is a journalism student at Western University, interning at Al Jazeera English.

We'd like to hear from you - especially if you have a personal stake in this conversation. As a Muslim do you feel you are able to freely and openly talk about this with your family, friends, community - society at large?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien, Catherine Kalbfleisch and Julian Uzielli.


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