It was with utter shock at lunchtime that I saw the news on the canteen television set that 12 people had been murdered on the premises of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
Nothing in my view could excuse the blood-letting carnage meted out by murderous brigands in the name of some belief system or religion.
Satire is a wonderful tool and sophisticated medium of expression to carry interesting, difficult, complex or controversial thought to a reading or listening public, it is to make people think and reflect, never is it to inspire barbarity and atrocious behaviour leading to murder.
Undermining their cause
The three cowardly and masked criminals who shot up the place and left as they were heard shouting "we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad" and "God is Great" in Arabic ("Allahu Akbar"), have done a great damage to any cause they portend to represent.
To suggest they were avenging the prophet is to promote the view that beyond the mystique, the mystery and sometimes the myth, the so-called prophet is weak, powerless, fitful and ineffectual. This can never be the case if the teachings of the prophet have thrived for over 14 centuries.
God is no doubt great, but this is not how to project the greatness of God, by spilling blood on the streets in the quest for their own personal sense of justice.
It makes you wonder, who appointed these butchering criminals judge and jury to run riot with weapons taking any life they see fit because they were seemingly offended?
In this day and age, we cannot allow people to overrun civil society bringing carnage amongst us and then running into some hiding place seeking refuge from justice. Cowards!
What damage these people have wrought in the name of Islam is beyond reckoning, and much as they are not representative of Islam per se, this act of unmitigated violence will give the movement that appreciates Islamophobia more fuel and support.
Damage to religion
Suffice it to say that the people who do the most damage to religion are those who through their actions in support of their beliefs are both unreasonable and extremist.
People whose perspective of life strips humanity of any expression beyond one of subservience to a deity that is cruel, merciless and humourless, yet, if we are to lose the richness of satire and humour to the feeble religious sensibilities of fanatics, we deserve no liberty nor freedom.
We must protect our liberty, our freedom, our expression and our wonderful humanity from these sort of people by chasing them and their sponsors; the acquiescent, the committed and those who give succour to the ends of the earth, bringing them to face the full wrath of the law.
Much as we have civilised ourselves beyond the routine shedding of blood, we must deprive these people of their liberty that no one else comes to harm by their words, thoughts or deeds.
Snakes in the backyard
We can no more pussyfoot around religious extremism, it has to be tackled head on and brought to heel, as every terrorist does not belong on our streets for more than an overly generous second.
It is like what Hillary Clinton said about tolerating terrorism in whatever form, “It's like that old story - you can't keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours. Eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard.”
That is what we do when those with a tendency to terrorist activity are allowed to remain free because of our fear of engaging them and eradicating whatever the radicalisation or philosophy is.
Whose picture is it, really?
Then we need to deal with the issue of depictions, nobody knows what any of the original religious leaders looks like, it is quite beyond belief that anyone would then think a depiction is a representation. Like every picture of a white man with blonde long hair wearing a white robe is Jesus Christ, or every picture of a man with dark hair, a big beard and a wearing a turban is Mohammed.
How we can be so convinced of what we do not know to so act as if it were a personal living experience makes the hold of religion on some people feel more cultist than devotional. This is where people not so grounded in the richness of their faith and belief systems get so easily offended by completely innocuous things.
Can we have come through centuries of repression, persecution, wars and emancipating to then end up in the 21st Century looking like the Dark Ages? It ought not be so.
Protecting our expression
No one can so suddenly be so religious to begin to personify the original prophets and instigators of the belief systems we now hold dear, from whatever persuasions and anything that attempts to create and nurture people with that kind of mind-set needs to be nipped in bud.
Back to Charlie Hebdo, I am saddened and perturbed by this tragedy, but for the victims of this tragedy not to have died in vain, we must continue the discourse in the richness of satire and humour, whilst condemning those who have decided to forfeit this wonderful gift of human expression for murderous instincts.
Justice will prevail, peace will rein and may the beauty of human expression on any topic we so desire to reflect upon never wane.
May all those who lost their lives in this unfortunate tragedy, rest in peace.