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Ahmed Merabet

the young Moslem who died for the freedom of all

The French police after the assault to "Charlie Hebdo"

The French police after the assault to "Charlie Hebdo"

When, on 22 July 2011, we got to know that the Utoya slaughterer was Anders Breivik, a young, blond and Christian Norwegian, the attention towards that massacre, where 77 young people died, started fading away. An Italian newspaper that had prepared a cover in which it blamed the same old group of Islamic fanatics and the inner violent nature of Islam without any evidence, had to reprint its first page. In the following days there were no debates on the nature of Christianity or the European culture. No Westerner felt called to apologize for what Breivik had done. It was nobody's fault, except Breivik's. And here lies the difference with what is happening today. Now the entire Moslem world, two billions faithfuls, is asked to apologize for the deeds of two terrorists. The very nature of Islam, its prophet and the goodness of every faithful is questioned.

We are afraid that all Moslems, regardless of whether they are kids or adults, can be like those terrorists who massacred mercilessly twelve people. Many politicians and commentators invite people to pull up the drawbridges to "defend us from the Islamic hoard", because no dialogue with Islam is possible, as there is no moderate Islam. The men of apocalypse invoke a call to arms to defend our civilization, sieged by an a hoard of savages. Some people want to get back to the time of Crusades.

Someone has been doing proselitism among the poorest layers of our society, using slogans that declare that the economic problems, the crisis, have been taken here by the illegal immigrants. Therefore, in their opinion, it would suffice to eliminate illegal or even legal immigrants, above all Muslims, to overcome all problems and live in prosperity. These people will tell you that for the sake of preventing terrorism it will be better not to grant permit to build mosques, as those places are a mine of terrorism. They will pester you with the fear of the Arabs and, maybe, in not too far a future, someone will be saying that to protect society from Islam it will be better to create controlled confinement areas for the Muslims, maybe obliging them to wear a symbol on their jackets, just in case they camouflaged themselves too much. 

If instead you choose to listen to reason, by confining in a corner the entrepreneurs of hatred, then you will be able to understand that the first victims of fundamentalism are Muslims, like Ahmed Merabet. Among the 12 victims of the terrorist commando there is also a French Muslim policeman, namely Ahmed Merabet. Ahmed was in ward outside the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo and there he was murdered with a colleague of his. Merabet could be the symbol of what I am trying to tell you. It is the Muslims, altogether, who are steadily identified with that minority of fanatics who sow death and destruction. It is always the Muslims who die by the thousands, killed by the bombs of secular and fundamentalist dictators.

To address the issue of Islamist fundamentalism we do not have to search for solutions in the interpretation of the Koran or in the figure of the Prophet; instead we must help Arab societies to free themselves from totalitarian regimes, supported by the West, too, that oppress entire populations. It is the oppression, the lack of future perspectives and the widespread ignorance, caused by growing poverty and the disbanding of education, to provide fertile soil for the proselitism of fundamentalists. It is the feeling of besiegement that the Islamic world perceives, as it is accused to be accomplice of terror, that needs to be changed.
If we look at the modern history of the Arab countries we will notice that in the past century there have been few countries that have experienced times of real freedom. The concession of freedom, the support to and recognition of Arab civil societies is the first step towards a path of encounter. Ahmed Merabet died as a Muslim, killed by fundamentalists, in the defense of everyone's freedom. And it is his gesture that has to give us back our reason and insight that we really need today.

Shady Hamadi, Syrian writer and activist

9 January 2015

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