Articles, Opinions & Views: The value of Charlie Hebdo by Commander (Rtd) S Thayaparan
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“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God


Which must always come to pass

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He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?


Have you always turned the other cheek?


To My Church have you been true?"


"No, Lord, I guess I ain't


Because those of us who carry guns


Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around


Except to calm their fears.


If you've a place for me here,


Lord, It needn't be so grand,


I never expected or had too much,


But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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The value of Charlie Hebdo by Commander (Rtd) S Thayaparan
Thursday, January 08, 2015
 From Malaysiakini : "What can you say to a man who tells you he prefers obeying God, rather than men, and that as a result he's certain he'll go to heaven if he cuts your throat?" - Voltaire


COMMENT Even amidst the slaughter of its journalists, the spirit of Charlie Hebdo managed to illustrate the absurdity of religious tyranny of the Islamic variety. One of the police officers butchered by an Islamist fascist was a Muslim.“Fundamentalism isn't about religion, it's about power,” said Salman Rushdie and whether the said power is enforced through laws limiting free speech or the barrel of gun, the result is the same. Western democracies are under siege. Those in power are not as fanatical as those seeking to undermine those values.

While some argue that Islam is under siege, I dismiss this idea as intellectually disingenuous. In ‘Welcome to the religious jungle’, I wrote: “What exactly is a ‘true’ Muslim, or ‘true’ Christian for that matter? Someone who believes that religion should not be politicised? Someone who believes that you should not mock another's religion? Someone who believes that religion should not intrude in the private lives of members in any given society? Someone who believes that there should be a separation of church/mosque and state?

“These are not ‘true’ religious values but rather true secular values or secular humanist values, if you like. It is pointless and disingenuous to attempt to define what a ‘true’ Muslim is, considering the fact that said values are in fact anathema to traditional Islamic thought and especially to non-Muslims, who project their own agendas as to the qualities that make a good or true Muslim.”

So-called moderate Muslims are outliers from a faith dominated by fanatical voices determined to link their every grievance to liberal Western values or geopolitical skullduggery.

Malaysia’s liberal values, which have rationally determined the power structures and values of society, have been slowly eroded by those in power and those seeking power as a means to maintain hegemony.

Every day here in Malaysia, we read statements by those champions of race and religion that Western values are anathema to a Muslim social order. It is vitally important that more moderate Muslims shake off their apathy or partisanship and speak out against those who wish to dominate the discourse with threats of violence.

Fear of reprisals

In ‘No peace in religion’, I wrote, “Instead of the ‘Religion of Peace’, I much prefer the honesty of someone like Malcolm X who said, ‘I am a Muslim, because it's a religion that teaches you an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It teaches you to respect everybody, and treat everybody right. But it also teaches you if someone steps on your toe, chop off their foot. And I carry my religious axe with me all the time.’

“Of course, as far as Islam, as is practised in this country, Muslims in control conveniently leave out the ‘teaches you to respect everybody, and treat everybody right’ aspect of Malcolm X's quote.”

Already there is talk of the limits of free speech in the Western context and those very ideals that Charlie Hebdo fought to maintain in its own sometimes crude way, are being challenged again.

Muslims in Europe fear that there would be reprisals of some sort and Western liberals cringe at the thought that these attacks give the political right more ammo to further their “agenda”.

Both are correct in their assumptions. If there is a shift in political ideology in the Western world, it would be because those values that it claims to cherish have been eroded to the point where non-partisan fidelity to them have been overcome by religious extremism but more importantly, by secular apathy.

As usual, the fallout would be most damaging to those who aspire to those values in countries gripped by tyranny, either religious or otherwise. Pernicious laws used to promote ‘tolerance’ would be justified because they supposedly promote public order and those who demand more freedom to speak out would be designated as deviants.

The attacks on Charlie Hebdo were meant to shock Western society but whom it should really shock is the worldwide Muslim community. Not in our names should be the only response by Muslims to this atrocity and any talk of the limits of free speech should not even enter into the discourse.

Unfortunately, the news cycle being what it is, this incident will soon be relegated to the back burner, just as the massacre in Peshawar was.

The Charlie Hebdo attack will be remembered and used by extremists to alienate marginal groups even further and the power elites in countries facing economic and social disparities would further tighten their grip on their societies, all in the guise of maintaining social order.



S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 3:07 PM  
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