Charlie Hebdo’s murderers – iconoclasts?

People wait outside a newsagents in Paris as the latest edition of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo goes on sale

People wait outside a newsagents in Paris as the latest edition of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo goes on sale

Two days ago I wrote this in an e-mail to a friend: “My head is filled today with the next installment of the European Charlie Hebdo story… over 3 million copies [5m now I hear] sold (and more on the way) of the first publication of the rag after the shootings!!! …. It is a blasphemous paper, but I can’t help being amused at how it looks as though the Islamic jihadists, and Al Qaeda who are the perpetrators of the crime, seem to have ‘bitten off their noses to spite their faces’ so to say in this whole shocking affair.”

In other words, the Islamic assassins’ attempt to destroy those who had depicted their (ahem) ‘prophet’ in offensive drawings, has now unwittingly initiated a massive and far more widespread support for ‘Charlie Hebdo’ and the freedom to use one’s ‘pen’, to either say or draw anything or anyone, in a far from favourable light. They have not put a stop to anything; they have, in fact, opened ‘a can of worms’ for themselves.

It is well known that ‘Charlie Hebdo’ has also drawn some truly blasphemous cartoons of the Pope and all that Catholics hold holy [je ne suis pas Charlie] and every other religion too I am told, but I have tried to keep away from looking at all these mocking and sacrilegious pictures, knowing how they prey on the mind afterwards. (Another friend told me the other day how she desperately wishes she could “un-see” some of the drawings she looked at on a Catholic blog, that wanted to demonstrate how irreverent and anti-Catholic ‘Charlie Hebdo’ was too.) However, whereas members of other religions often complained and criticised the paper’s mockery of their Faith, (and some had even threatened legal action I hear) the Islamic militants, in obedience to Mohammedan teaching, responded in their typical violent and barbaric way.

broken-statuesChalcedon, in a brilliant article on  the Jessica Hof blog, points to where an understanding of the root cause of the mindset of these killers lies – a deep-seated hatred of any image made of God (Allah); in other words,  iconoclasm. Of course although Mohammad, as we all know, only proclaimed he was ‘God’s prophet’, nothing more, Muslims most certainly appear to have deified this bellicose and polemical figure.

Chalcedon writes: “[W]ith the exception of the Guardian, who asked a clergyman to comment, I have not seen a single media outlet mention the word which forms the title of this post – ‘iconoclasm’. This is a shame, as it provides a context which help explain the Charlie Hebdo incident. We are told it is terrorism, and that the terrorists are not acting in the name of Islam; if that were really so, it would leave us scratching our heads as to what had so infuriated the Muslims concerned that they did what they did. One understands why the media wants to do nothing to encourage Islamophobia, but ignoring the truth is seldom a good idea, and never ends well. Yes, it is true that until about the eighteenth century, there is in Islamic art, a tradition of portraying Mohammed, just as there is, in Christianity, of portraying Jesus and the Virgin Mary. But, as the image above shows, there s in Christianity also a tradition of destroying images – of iconoclasm. There was, in eastern Christianity, a century long dispute which, in the eight and ninth centuries resulted in a victory for the iconodules.

The iconoclasts based themselves on a literalist reading of Exodus 20:3-5. They ignored Exodus 20:18-20, and Exodus 37:7-9. In part, they were responding to the rise of Islam, which had taken on board a literalist reading of Exodus 20:2-5. Mohammed and his followers ignored the context, and the other verses from Exodus, and they destroyed images. We see the same thing in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, when equally ignorant men destroyed some of glories of medieval art – because they didn’t know how to read texts, and actually had as little sense of what God wanted as the fundamentalist Muslims have and had…”

It is indeed true that we have had our own iconoclasts in Christianity in the past, as this old article of our one-time collaborator, Teresa, relates.

At a time when many people were unable to read or write, Pope Gregory the Great once said that images are “the books of the laity” – a charming way of describing how beautiful art and architecture can open our knowledge and imagination to the great Truths of our Faith. That these depictions of the Holy and Sacred can then be abused by bad art or the unscrupulous, is an unavoidable risk we must take, for their benefits so greatly outweigh their possible drawbacks.

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20 Responses to Charlie Hebdo’s murderers – iconoclasts?

  1. NEO says:

    Excellently done, Kathleen. You hit upon one of my favorite points, in an illiterate society, one uses an almost comic book approach to tell a story, and that is what the wall (and windows) of our churches were. In truth, even today, they serve as a sort of memo of the high points for us all. Yes, all swords have two sides but we must risk misuse to see proper use, and if we’ve taught our people correctly… If we haven’t, we’ve no one to blame really, except ourselves.

  2. Jahaira says:

    Hm, I have wanted to write about this, i am not a supporter of blastemy of any religion, but also I do not ever get offended when I see them because for one, no one knows what God truly looks like, so any picture of Jesus means nithing to me because he is in my heart, not on paper. Another thing is every one has the right to write/create just the way everyone has the right to look/look away. The thing that gets me about these extremist is that they are killing innocent people with the message this will happen to everyone who does not believe in their religion, yet no one has nuked them. But they use this paper as an another excuse to kill! Heck, they would kill a woman if they have an ankle slip. Their answer to everything is to kill. I don’t know what the answer is. I do know this, they believe they are superior and will kill everyone who is not on board all with the thought that they are going to paradize for doing so. The question is not how not to upset them because everything does, but how to stop them from killing people.

  3. chalcedon451 says:

    Thank you very much, Kathleen, I am glad you thought it useful.

  4. kathleen says:

    @ Chalcedon

    I should thank you for your great insightfulness shown in this excellent post I quote from.😉

    @ NEO

    Good to see you here again old chum! And many thanks for your kind words.

    Yes, it appears that our visual stimuli makes up for 93% of our “communication” facilities!! No wonder we sometimes have problems and misunderstandings with one another over the comment threads on the internet when we cannot actually see the person we are talking to! (LOL)
    This is especially evident in teaching children of course, who often lose interest if there are no pictures to look at, and that they capture much better, whilst we talk or read to them. (And we all have something of the child still in us!🙂 )
    And oh yes – beautiful churches remind us so vividly of our Christian roots.

  5. CM says:

    “The thing that gets me about these extremist is that they are killing innocent people with the message this will happen to everyone who does not believe in their religion, yet no one has nuked them.”

    There was nothing innocent about them. They were people who smugly degraded other people for having religious beliefs and published obscene pictures of religious figures that were meaningful to people of certain faiths. The killings were done in response to obscene portrayals of Mohammed.

    That is not to say that the criminal reaction was defensible or in any way proportionate to the original behavior but I cannot understand people joining the choir of the secular media who want to canonise the parasites who got murdered. They are heroes because a large segment of the media hate all religion. Christians get murdered on a regular basis in some parts of their world merely for their beliefs but the mainstream media aren’t interested.

    That leads to your other claim that they killed people with the message it will happen to anyone who doesn’t believe in their religion. There is no basis for that claim. They were victims of the degradation of their religious beliefs and they responded in a terrible way due to the extremists that they were.

    The Pope made the point a lot more pithily than me.
    http://news.yahoo.com/pope-charlie-hebdo-limits-free-expression-121639260.html

  6. kathleen says:

    @ CM

    I cannot understand people joining the choir of the secular media who want to canonise the parasites who got murdered. They are heroes because a large segment of the media hate all religion.”

    I agree with you here; many (not all) taking part in the subsequent demonstrations of support for the members of the murdered Charlie Hebdo rag, were doing so not only in protest for the vicious killings (which they were) but also in support for the unlimited ‘right’ and freedom to mock and blaspheme all religions. The cartoonists were ‘waving a red rag to a bull’ with the Islamists (and they knew it) but still went ahead. Most groups who mock and attack people and places of religious beliefs, (atheist groups like the pro-abortionists and FEMEN come to mind) will pick only on the Catholic Church because (a) they know we shall not respond with violence, and (b) because it is the True Church (inside they know it but they deny it) and the most influential in the world.

    I think Jahaira was not referring just to the Charlie Hebdo murders though, but trying to say that the Islamic fundamentalists persecute and kill innocent Christians everywhere in the world – which is absolutely true, and as you go on to say yourself. By force and intimidation (as in the case of the kidnapped Nigerian girls) they put a knife to the throat and scream “convert or die”!! Look how many thousands of heroic Iraqi and Syrian martyrs there have been in the last months, who have chosen to die rather than be dragged into the evil creed of Islam.

    “That leads to your other claim that they killed people with the message it will happen to anyone who doesn’t believe in their religion. There is no basis for that claim. They were victims of the degradation of their religious beliefs and they responded in a terrible way due to the extremists that they were.”

    No not every Muslim yet of course, but I believe there is a very strong indication that the “basis for that claim” Jahaira makes is most definitely out there, and that the extremists are on the increase. May God help us.

  7. JabbaPapa says:

    There was nothing innocent about them

    Despite your protestations to the contrary, to so clearly characterise most of the victims of last week’s terrorist outrage in Paris as “not innocent” (AKA “guilty”) is to mitigate, possibly even implicitly justify, the motivations of the extremely evil men and women who have organised and perpetrated those crimes.

    A lot of things have been said about the frontal assault upon the Freedom of Speech — but this terrorist action was even more centrally a frontal assault upon Religious Freedom, which – no matter how sadly – includes the freedom to have no religion at all, and even the freedom to reject religion outright.

    Only Pope Francis so far, to my knowledge, has spoken of this aspect of things in the public sphere.

    The Christians and other non-Muslims or “bad Muslims” who have been and are being systematically targetted by these Islamist terrorists in the Middle East, Africa, New York, Europe, and elsewhere — including of course the dead at Charlie Hebdo — are the targets of a violent oppression against the fundamental principle of Religious Freedom.

    There can be no Freedom of conversion to the one true Catholic Christian Faith where this principle, this aspect of our God-given Free Will is attacked, repressed, or destroyed.

  8. Adrian Meades says:

    Free will is a fallacy, Jabba. It has to be, considering all the instinctive influences which manipulate. or influence your thoughts and actions, while you are oblivious to the way in which they act upon your mind.

  9. JabbaPapa says:

    Free will is a fallacy, Jabba. It has to be, considering all the instinctive influences which manipulate. or influence your thoughts and actions, while you are oblivious to the way in which they act upon your mind.

    You really have no idea what you’re talking about, do you, and you clearly imagine that uncritical repetition of what atheists have instructed you to think and believe might trump everything else (as if it constituted Science, but it doesn’t).

    I take note that you fatuously imagine me to be “oblivious to the way in which they act upon [my] mind“, whereas you yourself, in your cynical atheist-driven superiour-ness, presumably are not ?

    But have you studied Linguistics, Psycholinguistics, or possibly even just the Philosophy of Language at a University level ? Though I seriously doubt that you have — given the trite nature of “your” “thoughts” on these questions. Even your portrayal of the limiting factors framing the scope of our experience and our actions is ludicrously simplistic, one-sided, and naïve.

  10. kathleen says:

    @ Jabba (15:31 yesterday)

    You bring up a very important point here – Religious Freedom.

    It exists here in the West of course, but it appears to have many limits. Catholics (and some of the more orthodox Protestant Christians) protest the treatment often meted out to them, seeing ourselves marginalised by the ‘political correctness’ of our secular leaders. Living out time-honoured family values in the home or workplace, our belief in the sanctity of all human life, our denial of same-sex ‘marriage’, our right to wear visible signs of our Faith (like a crucifix), etc. can all become reasons that, in extreme cases, people have lost their jobs or been demoted, have been denied certain rights, or have been accused of ‘hate’ crimes.
    A friend of mine works here to try and solve some of these above-mentioned threats to our own religious freedom: http://www.thomasmorelegal.org.uk/fiveyears.htm

    Another thing – CM says: “There was nothing innocent about them” (referring to the murdered members of Charlie Hebdo) could give the impression that ‘they deserved what they got’, and that is utterly wrong and fallacious. Such thinking could bring us to descend to ‘the law of the jungle’… a state these Islamic jihadists would very much like to impose on us. All victims of wanton murder are, in this sense, totally “innocent”.
    However offensive Charlie Hebdo’s work clearly was to very many people, no one was either obliged to buy their magazine or look at their drawings.

  11. Adrian Meades says:

    Thanks for a perfect example of the sorts of influences I’m talking about, Jabba!
    Just as we witness in other mammals, when your perceived position is threatened, you are compelled to puff up your chest and respond with aggression. Brilliant!

  12. JabbaPapa says:

    Thanks for a perfect example of the sorts of influences I’m talking about, Jabba!
    Just as we witness in other mammals, when your perceived position is threatened, you are compelled to puff up your chest and respond with aggression. Brilliant!

    Thank you for demonstrating your blatant inability to even TRY and engage with the contents of what is said to you — you prefer instead to produce a pathetic reductio ad absurdum rejection of even the basics of an opposite opinion.

    It does not help that your “thoughts” on this matter are so crassly ignorant of the Science.

    Nor has it escaped one’s notice that your position is entirely circular & self-indulgent, in that your “thoughts” are simply the process whereby your a priori indoctrinations are “justified” by “your” “opinions”, whilst these in turn are “justified” by “your” indoctrinated views, so that there would appear to be no point at all where you might be capable of engaging in anything even vaguely resembling a discussion of some greatly difficult questions, both scientifically and philosophically, due to your gross incompetence and your obvious ignorance.

    As suggested — you appear to have no relevant analytic understanding at all of the actual limiting factors framing the scope of our experience and our actions ; nor do you understand therefore that these limiting factors are themselves limited in scope.

    You imagine instead that posting foolish adolescent claptrap is something that could be taken seriously in the face of several millennia’ worth of Science and Philosophy

    Simply put, your “opinions” on these matters are utterly worthless..

  13. Adrian Meades says:

    Very entertaining, if a tad hypocritical in many places.
    Did you have anything to add that might counter my previous comment, or do you just wish to continue to bolster my supporting evidence?

  14. JabbaPapa says:

    What “evidence” ?

    You have made some rather fantastic claims on the basis of no evidence at all.

    Or what — do you imagine that atheist prejudice is “evidence” ???

  15. Adrian Meades says:

    If you do actually possess ‘free will’, how is it that you willfully project so much pomposity,pride, arrogance and snobbery, while claiming to be a follower of Christ?

  16. JabbaPapa says:

    I do wish you’d exercise your own free will elsewhere — or what ; will you claim that it was a clump of cells that made you do it ?

    Will no-one rid me of this irksome troll ?

  17. Adrian Meades says:

    “Thank you for demonstrating your blatant inability to even TRY and engage with the contents of what is said to you”🙂 xx

  18. JabbaPapa says:

    How many YEARS have you spent, now, living your love of online hatred ?

    I truly pity you …

  19. Adrian Meades says:

    I know that ‘evidence’ is not a particular interest of yours, but just look above to see which one of us appears hateful in these comments. Your aggressive and pompous attitude is sometimes difficult to overlook, but such behaviour signals of deep insecurities, rather than inspiring hate.

  20. JabbaPapa says:

    I know that ‘evidence’ is not a particular interest of yours

    So yet another gratuitous slur ?

    OK — evidence.

    Adrian Meades :hypocritical” “pomposity” “pride” “arrogance” “snobbery” “aggressive and pompous” “aggression

    Which one of us appears hateful in these comments ?

    You have made a claim that “instinct” negates the possibility of Free Will — what evidence have you used to support this ridiculous claim ? None.

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