The tragic events in Paris where 12 people were assassinated at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hedbo, has led to some interesting and unexpected discussions at home. It appears that the school where my teenage daughter attends, which has a number of Muslim pupils, has been engaged in a series of open and frank conversations regarding the issue of faith and the link between terrorism and Islam.
Unfortunately, this has been amongst the pupils themselves and not openly with the teachers, which is a shame and a lost opportunity for the teachers to engage with the students over a gravely serious matter which in recent years has progressively got worse.
My daughter arrived home quite animated asking the significance of the expression Je Suis Charlie, now whilst I have always maintained that the teaching of religious studies as part of the core subjects in the school’s curriculum, is a waste of a lesson and exam grade, it does nevertheless offer a chance to explain the ways of the world as it evolves.
Its a tricky situation and I did my best to explain the relevance of the phrase now being used as a means of solidarity around the world for free speech, whilst also explaining that in reality, the phrase should read: Nous Sommes Tout Charlie: We are ALL Charlie.
Furthermore, she and her friends should not consider this act or other acts of terrorism under the guise of Islam as a religious movement. Just as the blasphemy laws of the Middle Ages where people were persecuted and often executed in the most barbaric manner, were equally nothing to with faith but only served the ideology of a minority usually seeking influence and power through fear. Nothing has changed, only the means it is now reported.
Schools should really be engaging with their students to allay any misconceptions that Islam, just like Christianity a few hundred years ago, is being used by a few warped-minded individuals for their own gains. In reality, this has more to do with politics than any faith.