Trading pens and ink for bullets

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(Republished on request on November 15th, 2015 in memory of those who lost their lives in the latest Paris attacks)

Like many other people this week, I was horrified by the barbaric Charlie Hebdo massacre. Twelve people were killed in the Paris office of the weekly newspaper, a strongly anti-racist and left-wing satirical paper, sometimes publishing controversial Muhammad cartoons. It’s been on my mind since, and I’m not finding any answers to why and how people can mindlessly and effortlessly kill others for holding a different belief system.

Earlier this year I added a blog post on my homepage called, “2015: Year of the Pen”. Seeing it made my heart stop for a second, and I felt my year of the pen wasn’t meant to be like this, or to happen this way. In Paris, pens, pencils, ink and paint were exchanged for bullets, and it happened in such a violent, repulsive and brutal way that shocked and scared everyone.

Being a book nut with a constant need for reading and writing different forms of expression, ‘Je Suis Charlie’ became a summoning cry in support of free speech in my mind. The phrase caught fire at a global level also, as the world showed its support for freedom of expression, and against the violence that tried to exterminate that freedom.

You just cannot try taking away our essential and innate feel for freedom without at least writing a manifest against this type of violence.

As I’m writing this, I grasp how lucky I am that nobody stops me from writing this.

Nobody tells me I have to remove sentences or indeed whole blog posts. Nobody bursts into my house, armed with guns to blow my MS-ridden brain out, shouting my name and yelling I’ve been killed because of some sentences or images I published.

My freedom of speech means the need to write, to create, to share, to ask, to think, to discuss and then create again the way I intended, the format and content I choose. It’s not only my fundamental human right, but it’s yours also and should be upheld regardless of country borders or religious background.

As the days go on, and as I’m updating this article on Sunday morning, the need to avenge the cartoonists with my words is gone. Instead, I’m trying to discover what leads people into such an abyss of destruction. Being very interested in Abnormal Psychology, the urge figuring out how certain people kill, maim and destroy in the name of something human beings created themselves (religion), took over.

What started as an unpublished angry-response-article is now one that tries telling that perhaps Islam itself is used as a crutch to commit heinous acts. So, should religion not serve as a moral guide? Not as a book on which to write names of murdered victims in blood, simply because they hold a different religious view? Could it be that Islam itself is taken hostage by those who hold extremist beliefs?

In Radical Islam, old belief systems and traditions are turned into self-fulfilling prophecy vehicles that destroy everything. Albert Einstein once said, “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts,” and Islam itself is reinvented this way by those wanting a more fundamentalist type of religion. In other words, an almost “bespoke religion.”

“They wanted to bring France to its knees, but instead France stood up.”

On Wednesday, Radical British preacher Anjem Choudary said that Muslims don’t believe in the concept of freedom of expression and that the Sharia (Islamic law) was more important than the legal systems of liberal democracies.

Yes, that much was clear on Wednesday in the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris. But oh, how ridiculously stupid the Paris terrorists were. How silly of them to think that by senselessly murdering 12 people and wounding five others, “evil cartoons” would never be published again.

How bloodthirsty and gullible of them to think that by shouting “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “Allahu Akbar,” they killed words, cartoons, ideas and other belief systems. Taking the life of people using their fundamental right to free expression is not only an act of cowardice but also total unwillingness trying, at least, to live in the same street. This type of radical, totalitarian religion has nothing to with Muslims, who attempt to live a normal life, who want to get to know their neighbours, want to worship in their way, without extremism, without hatred and anger.


The killings of Charlie Hebdo achieved nothing. At all. They failed to bring down a country. Instead, the country stood up.

In fact, many Muslims are against terrorist attacks, and this trend rises as time goes on as more useless, hateful terrorist attacks happen. Not everyone who reads the Qur’an wants to go on suicide missions that not only rip the hearts out of people, but also out of their communities. There is no feeling of “Sigh… now that felt great now, didn’t it?”

Ahmed Merabet, the police officer, gunned down in the Charlie Hebdo attack, was killed in an act of barbarity by “false Muslims” his brother said in a moving tribute. “I address myself now to all the racists, Islamophobes and antisemites. One must not confuse extremists with Muslims. Mad people have neither colour or religion,” he said.

Al-Qaeda thought they brought down the global economy by causing approximately $10 billion of damage to New York’s infrastructure on 9/11 when they killed 2,996 people. The conflict between America and the Middle East was all about its strict policy of financial, military and political dominance, but New York never faltered.

New York rose like a hundred phoenixes, higher than Al-Qaeda ever thought they could fly. Paris will rise as the fantastic Roman city it’s always been, with its proud people, lively streets with neo-classical architecture and many art galleries and historical monuments taken centre stage again already. ‘Je Suis Charlie’ will remain a symbol for “Liberté, égalité, fraternité“.

So why do Radical Islamic terrorists like spilling of blood so much?

Not enough parental recognition when they were children? Not feeling they contribute significantly to their life and that of their families? No jobs, no prospects, no future? In need of adventure, a real identity, action that the current political, geographical and personal system cannot provide?

It seems so, as different Qur’an translations say the Messenger of Allah said that ‘martyrs are forgiven with the first flow of blood, they will be shown their place in paradise, will be protected from punishment in the grave, secured from the greatest terror and will receive a crown of dignity on their head.’

Not only all this – pretty impressive actions that seem mythological if anything – the male (of course) terrorists ‘will receive 72 wives among Al-Huril-‘Ayn of Paradise, and they will have ever-erect penises that never soften, and the sexual strength to satisfy 100.’ This, however, is of much debate, as some Islamic people say nowhere in the Qur’an will you find anything about 72 wives, where other translations say they are waiting for their man.

Radical Muslims do not tolerate any form of sarcasm or indeed images of their prophet. Hence Charlie Hebdo. Radical Muslims think that ‘crimes committed against Allah are virtues crimes, so non-Muslims need to be exterminated because they cause so much trouble.’ As such, Radical Islam is a false religion based on weaponized ideas, encouraged and built upon a wide network of misinformed volunteers willing to commit abhorrent acts of violence.

So they kill.

Guns don’t kill people these days.

Ideas do.

Ideologies do.

This week, terrorist actions united people all over the world once again. But even if they killed a 100,000 more cartoonists, writers, artists and other sane-thinking people, they will never wipe out freedom of speech, hope, love and unity. This is 2015; it’s time to forget about racism, hatred and radical religious belief systems.


You can’t kill words.

You can’t kill cartoons.

You can’t kill ideas.

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To help support the families of those who passed away, please check Nous Sommes Charlies /  Je Suis Charlie: La violence ne fera pas taire la liberté de la presse !


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About Willeke

Neurologically challenged by MS and personally by her will to succeed, Willeke is a disability awareness advocate seeking to improve neurological services in Ireland. By highlighting difficult issues that come with an MS diagnosis, she hopes her words and tenacity can bring justice to people most in need of a modern, inclusive healthcare system that looks after every aspect of life.

© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2015. Unauthorized use and duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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