As the representative of one of the oldest European minority faiths on this continent, I want to reach out to the diverse Christian communities, the diverse Muslim communities, secular groups, governments and politicians, to help us stop this growing trend of antagonism and conflict. I believe that we have the responsibility to recreate an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect between the secular modern state and religious movements, in order to make sure that the experiment, which we call Europe, is not going to fail.
There is no justification for murdering journalists or satirists. No degree of offence legitimises the use of violence. The deaths of the journalists should be mourned for that particular reason, but no more so than the two officers or the maintenance man who were also killed in the tragic shootings..
I hear you marched in your thousands against my religion. Last week, and last month. You marched against immigrants, foreigners, and anyone a shade darker. I will not draw comparisons to Nazi Germany. I will not call you bigots, I will not insult you, and I will not label you. But we do have a problem.
I don't doubt many people would have found the Charlie Hebdo cartoons extremely offensive, and I'm not here to tell you that's wrong, but the insinuation that insulting/offending people may have invited this horrific tragedy on any level is tantamount in my eyes to the old age adage that a rape victim "asked for it" by wearing a short skirt. It's victim blaming at its very worst, and especially against people who fought in many ways for the rights of those who attacked them. So long as offence remains within the bounds of what is legally acceptable, then it is just that - acceptable - whether you personally like it or not.
Let's be clear: I agree there is no justification whatsoever for gunning down journalists or cartoonists. I disagree with your seeming view that the right to offend comes with no corresponding responsibility; and I do not believe that a right to offend automatically translates into a duty to offend.
This is not a situation where we can fight fire with fire. We should fight the ideologies of hatred and violence with an ideology of peace and caring. We need a commitment to honouring the memories of the French journalists, Jews and police officers including a Muslim killed last week, and that involves all doing our bit to create a world in which such horrors are confined to history.
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.
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.
Liberals and leftists in the West are right to condemn the bigotry of the majority community, but the fundamentalism of the minority community cannot be spared from criticism. If those identifying as left and liberal fail to criticise the dangerous trends of Islamism, the right will step up for the task. That is a future no one wants and political correctness can do little to fight it.