Freedom of expression extends to artists and Muslims


After last month’s attack in Paris on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, many people have been blaming Islam.
They are also categorizing Islam as a religion of terror.
This is hitting home for students who are associated with Islam and students who have a desire to pursue a career in art.
The attack is raising questions about religious tolerance and respect for the First Amendment.
Questions like, “Is it appropriate for Muslims to pursue the murder of an individual who drew an offensive cartoon?” and “Is it okay to draw pictures of something that is offensive to one’s religion?”
“It is a religion of peace, as long as you practice it correctly,” senior Zeshawn Khan said.
He was born in a home that practices Islam, which he said cultivated him to be giving, and let others in.
He was taught to be compassionate and to believe that you must always help those in need.
“And spend for the cause of Allah, cast not yourselves into ruin with your own hands, and do good; surely Allah loves those who do good,” he said, quoting the Quran 2:196.
This scripture is often recited in Khan’s home, giving him the inspiration to believe that Muslims aren’t all bad.
“There (are) a lot of bad ones but good ones too.”
The attack also took a huge toll on freedom of speech and just exactly what it means, not only in France but around the world.
Artists who feel like their freedom of expression is being violated are speaking up.
“People threaten people all the time, but threatening someone for their art is wrong; people draw out of expression,” senior Monica Kunz said.
She plans to attend college and major in art in hopes of becoming an animator someday.
She, like many others, is appalled by the attack because it amplifies a statement that elevates religion over freedom of expression.
It is critical for students on both sides of the issue, yet they seem to both agree on one idea.
“It was really offensive to the Muslim culture,” Kunz said.
“But they should not have been killed.”
Khan agrees that “you can not get mad enough over satirical jokes to kill someone.”
Other students, like senior Ali Khan, feels like America is his home, his country, and where he belongs, and he would never commit an act of terror over an offensive statement directed to his religion.
Categorizing a group by the actions of a few is common. It has been seen over and over again throughout history.

People threaten people all the time, but threatening someone for their art is wrong.

— Monica Kunz

After World War II, many considered all Germans to be part of the Nazi regime.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, many Americans considered all Japanese to be anti-American.
Today the same scenario is painted: all Muslims are terrorists because of the acts of a few extremists.
The complexity is found in the question, “Can one individual determine an entire race or group?”
Every mind is made to generate original thoughts and cultivate personal opinions.
An opinion lead to the drawings of the prophet Muhammad, and an opinion lead to the killing of the cartoonists.
Now, an opinion has lead people all around the world and students on campus, to choose what they believe in.
The choice is in the hands of the individuals to choose what is more important: religion, freedom of expression, or life itself.