A sea of reproduced caricatures on banners, placards and hung from balconies paving the unity march route wouldn't have been unexpected, quite the opposite would appeared most appropriate in fact, given the events leading up to the event.
We non-Muslim Brummies can cope with people doubting our existence. God surely can too. Sharing, disagreeing, and gently mocking are the most powerful weapons we have against extremism and bigotry. Familiarity does not breed contempt, it conquers it.
When the attackers from the Paris massacre, claimed that they were 'avenging' the dignity of the Prophet Muhammad, I was both shocked and appalled. No, No, No! Not again! This couldn't be further from the truth.
The political agenda pushed by journalists such as Ware, is nothing short of a divisive and destructive mechanism to socially facilitate the British public's support, or at least acceptance for a draconian legislation, such as the CTS bill by capitalising on people's fear of Muslims.
A quick challenge. Imagine, for a moment, that a satirical magazine like Charlie Hebdo had been based in Saudi Arabia. Having trouble? Me too, because it's unimaginable...
Islam is a set of ideas. It is an ideology. It inherently deserves no more or less respect than any other ideology. That is to say, it inherently deserves no respect whatsoever. Just like any other idea or ideology, Islam also deserves no special protection from criticism or critique. Affording it any such privilege just because it has a supernatural origin story is not compatible with reason. Muslims, on the other hand, are people who have adopted Islam as dogma. It should really go without saying that just like any other person, Muslims inherently deserve to be respected as people, treated with dignity, and have their rights protected.
I 100% agree with the lambasting and jokes surrounding these comments - the comments embody a reality so screwed up we have to throw our hands up and laugh to keep from crying. But we can't forget comments like this also fuels that reality, that today's violent race and religious fault-lines are created by comments like these and the damage they do.
The terrorist network that calls itself the 'Islamic State' has been almost as audacious - some might say ridiculous - with its name changes over the years... The simple fact is that it is NOT Islamic and it is NOT a state.
It is no longer in anyone's interest for the silent majority of Muslims to remain silent. To do so would not only risk the Muslim community losing the battle with extremism from within but also I fear lead to a backlash from society at large. It is not bigotry or racism to ask questions about a religion. Now is the time for answers.
All religions, new and old, should be subject to the same disrespect that Charlie Hedbo so boldly and bravely paid them. As Salman Rushdie, a man who knows a thing or two about this subject, said religion deserves our 'fearless disrespect'. Long may such disrespect, whether it be in Charlie Hedbo or elsewhere, continue.
Instead of marching for rights and the liberty to say and do as one wishes, our leaders should be condemning insults by anyone to anyone of any faith. Our leaders should be speaking out demanding that we respect this fundamental right and not abuse this right to free speech.
As a real Muslim, I don't want to go to war with the rest of the world. I just want to peacefully coexist. I'm certain there are more real Muslims like me out there. It's time they find a voice to speak up.
Nothing will or can ever validate the actions of those who effected this unforgivable massacre, and the elimination of terror must be realised, without concession. BUT - if attenuating bloodshed and trauma for entire nations matters, it may also be best not to mindlessly encourage anyone else to 'be Charlie'.
I cannot speak for Ahmed Merabet, but as a Muslim he may well have been offended by some of Charlie Hebdo's material. Regardless of this, he still gave his life to protect their right to free speech. In my opinion, this attitude is something we can all learn from.
My argument is by no means that terrorists acting in the name of Islam are right; I believe what has happened is disgusting and wrong and unforgivable. What I also believe, though, is that to tar anybody who appears Muslim with the brush of being a killer is just as unforgivable.
Now I'm not siding with the 'we brought this on ourselves' lot. What I'm saying is we just haven't got to grips with the fact rapid developments in communications technology and transport have well and truly moved the goalposts.