The January attack on the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” sent shockwaves through the world and ignited a debate over whether or not the Muslim prophet Muhammad should be depicted in publications.
Eleven people were killed in the shooting, which was carried out by two men connected with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The attack was in response to the magazine’s history of depicting Muhammad in unfavorable ways. Â Â The two men responsible for the deaths of 10 members of Charlie Hebdo’s editorial staff and one guard claimed to carry out the attack in the name of their God. However, according to University of Rhode Island political science Professor Dr. Katrin Jomaa, violence in the name of Islam directly contradicts the teachings of the Quran.
“These [terrorists] are doing outrageous things by themselves,” said Jomaa. Â “And above all they are clothing it with Islam.” Â She added that the acts by terrorists and extremists “distort the image of Islam.”
Maryam Attarpour, a junior political science and gender and women’s studies major, who was born in Iran, disagreed with Charlie Hebdo’s depiction of Muhammad.
“Even though I’m not religious, I kind of saw it as mocking religion,” Attarpour said. Â “I just don’t think it’s right to do because it’s something people hold dear to their heart.”
At the heart of the issue is the publication of illustrations of Muhammad. Â According to Islamic teachings, there are to be no visual depictions of the prophet. Â Islamic art typically shows Muhammad with a blank face, however Muslims see it as an insult when western media such as Charlie Hebdo portray Muhammad, especially in a satirical way.
“Depicting him in any way is an insult,” Attarpour said. Â “So drawing him in a way that’s supposed to be satire is even worse.”
Insulting as it may be, Jomaa says that violence is not the answer.
“What the French did, I am totally against,” she said. Â “I don’t think it’s right, I don’t think it’s justified.” Â However, Jomaa said that the attack in response to the illustrations is just as unjustified. Â “I am totally against the cartoons, but the reaction against them is totally rejected, by me as well as Islam,” she said.
While the majority of Muslims wholly disagree with how the terrorists reacted to Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, they still maintain that magazines and other publications should not depict Muhammad in any way.
Jomaa said that appropriate responses to offensive depictions of Muhammad would be peaceful demonstrations and writing articles to express that it is not acceptable. Â Attarpour said that boycotting a publication would be appropriate, and would want people to explain why it is upsetting.
“A lot of people get upset over rape jokes, so I see that as kind of the same thing,” Attarpour said. Â “If you see someone doing that or finding that funny, you try to make them understand your perspective and why it’s offensive to you.”
Ultimately the solution lies in understanding, Jomaa said.
“Muslims have this responsibility,” she said. Â “They should speak up against aggression that Muslim extremists are doing.” Â Terrorists, Jomaa said, are like one bad apple in a basket of good apples and the tension between Islam and the west will be eased if people are educated.
“This is not going to be resolved by wars and bloodshed, I think the only way for this to be resolved is through knowledge and understanding,” Jomaa said. Â “By trying to know, people will learn what is true, and if they have knowledge, there will be more acceptance.”