Date: 09/01/2015

• France is under attack in what has turned out to be a mortal irony in the fountainhead of free speech and expression. The outrage in the office of the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, symbolises the hideous intent of the assailants and the orchestrated slogans must leave no doubt about their identity. Comment on whether Wednesday’s mayhem in Paris was a manifestation of the Islamist surge in Iraq and Syria and the Western response thereof must await further investigation. Suffice it to register that the muzzle of the Kalashnikovs has sought to muzzle the freedom of the media, even as it has triggered a debate on whether such freedom must be as unrestrained as it apparently is in France and other Western democracies. The fact that it happened in France shows how easily the bedrock of libertarian societies can be shattered.

• The nub of the matter must be that from the killing of school girls in search of learning in the Af-Pak frontier to journalists in a Western capital, the Islamist has demonstrated a sinister design ~ to destroy the totems of civilized and libertarian engagement. Terrorism knows no frontier, and this seemingly is the strand that binds Peshawar to Paris. The cry of “death to blasphemers” ought to be anathema to civilization in modern times. Yet the medieval mindset has been furiously palpable ~ from the 1989 fatwa on Salman Rushdie to that issued on Geert Wilders, the Islamophobic Dutch politician, via the Pakistan of the 21st century. A section of Muslims has decided to battle secular, democratic values and it is only a matter of time before other faiths do the same.

Friends, all of us any where have a lot to learn from this tragedy and sooner we do and join hands against such mayhem is better. Will rulers of Muslim countries in particular do as the Egyptian President has been trying (reported in another mail sent out today)?