As the aftermath of this week’s terrorism incidents in France played out today with two suspects — now dead — cornered by police saying they wanted to die as “martyrs,” we heard nothing from them about their cause.
Indeed, we don’t hear much about the cause from many of the radicalized young men who commit cowardly crimes like the murders of journalists at Charlie Hebdo, perhaps because they really don’t know much about it, either. And we are hearing that many of those fighting for ISIS are not practising the Islamic beliefs they preach, but instead are raping and pillaging etc. Some have said they are simply mercenaries in it for the pay they earn and that it has nothing to do with religious ideology for them.
So, instead of being remembered as martyrs — like, say, Joan of Arc — they are remembered as psychopathic killers, if anything at all, and few people will be able to recall their names next week.
True, the leaders of organizations like Al-Qaida and ISIS may have what they consider to be real causes and goals, but even their reasoning is somewhat murky. A cynical but objective person might say it’s really about power for them — and money, of course.
But it’s difficult to understand how so many young men fall into the radicalization trap and give up their lives for the fallacy that is the promised “martyrdom.” Why aren’t they doing something more constructive rather than destructive, like writing rock and rap songs decrying the establishment? Or blogging . . .
One young man, a blogger/journalist, may very well become a martyr for standing up for freedom of speech. Reports i24 News:
Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi has been publicly flogged after he was accused of insulting Islam. The whipping was confirmed by Amnesty International who said that he received the first round of 50 lashes in public after Friday prayers. Raef Badawi, 30, was sentenced on November 5 after questioning the Gulf kingdom’s direction on the now-banned Liberal Saudi Network, which he set up. The United States Thursday appealed to Saudi Arabia to annul a sentence of 1,000 lashes imposed on a Saudi rights activist and citizen journalist on top of a 10-year jail term.
Badawi is to receive 50 lashes a week until the 1,000-lashes sentence has been carried out, and you can be sure that with each week’s floggings, the international outcry will grow — and Badawi will be seen as a martyr, and rightfully so.
So while some debate whether the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris was an attack on freedom of speech or simply an act of war, Saudi Arabia has made it very clear that freedom of speech is not a right in that country — even after its officials decried the Paris murders.
A bigger question — the macro picture — would be: how does Saudi Arabia’s harsh censorship influence the radicals joining groups like Al-Qaida and ISIS? Did Saudi Arabia’s censorship and sentencing of Raif Badawi somehow inadvertently influence the men who killed journalists at Charlie Hebdo?
We may never know the answer, but all leaders in countries that suppress freedom of speech and oppress people in the name of religion need to do some soul-searching now, and perhaps reflect upon the potential ripple effects of their actions.