They acted in truly terrorist fashion—killed innocent people in cold blood, then ran away, too cowardly to face the consequences of their heinous crime.
The brutal murder of 12 French journalists in Paris Wednesday by Islamic terrorists in the name of Allah is a sad commentary not only on religion, but also on the whole human race. As American Secretary of State John Kerry has said, it is not a clash of civilizations, lest we indict all Muslims, but an act of people who reject civilization and even the sanctity of humanity as a species created by God Himself for good, not for evil.
No, it would be wrong to blame all Islam for this horrific attack against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. For Moslem leaders from around the world, including the Arab League and the leaders of Malaysia and Indonesia, two highly populous Moslem nations, have joined in the condemnation of this terrible act.
Our hope, in this connection, is that the Moslem leaders in Liberia, too, would speak out and tell Liberians and the world where they stand on this horrible crime against not only humanity but also against the media. This is not the first time we have called on Liberia’s Moslem leaders to speak out against murderous atrocities inflicted on innocent people in the name of Islam. We have done so on a number of occasions, including when Boko Haram abducted over 200 school girls at night from their dormitory in Nigeria. Most of them are yet to be returned to their hapless and deeply distressed parents.
There is an old dictum (truism) that says “Silence makes consent.” We do not believe that our Moslem leaders condone any of these things. But they need to speak out and make their positions clear and avoid the perception that they are in accord with the terrible things that are being perpetrated in the name of Allah.
We are in great sympathy with the French people and government and most particularly with our colleagues in the French media for what has happened. Our hearts go out to their families. We pray that God will give them comfort and peace and that the murderous perpetrators will be found and brought to justice.
Even more so, we are greatly concerned about the implications of this tragedy for freedom of thought, of expression and press freedom. Of course, this is not the first time that these freedoms have been seriously threatened. Thousands of journalists, just like our French colleagues, have paid the supreme sacrifice for press freedom. Yet media people continue to struggle on, doing the work we have been called to do regardless of the consequences.
Even this special group of media folk, peculiarly gifted with the art of conceiving and producing brilliant cartoons and satirical masterpieces, that make people think and laugh, are not exempt from persecution. Our own Leslie Lumeh and Clarence L. Carter, pen-named David K. Goliath, are among this group and, like their French colleagues, sometimes make people, especially those in power, concerned or even angry at what they produce.
Yet their gifts, like all talent, are God-given and they should not suffer or die in the portrayal of them. But this has happened throughout the centuries. Was Socrates, known as the father of philosophy and accused of misleading the youth, not given the hemlock to drink that took his life? Yet his legacy lives on, and so do the legacies of many others who used the talent God gave them to inspire, educate and redeem. We speak of the likes of many of the prophets of Israel, Jesus, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and the many journalists and writers in Africa and around the world who have perished in the practice of their professions. Now joining that league are our fallen French colleagues.
But as journalists, writers, artists and messengers of hope, we must continue the work that God has called us to do and never give up. As Samora Marcel and all the other revolutionaries who broke the back of racist colonial oppression in Southern Africa used to say, “The struggle continues until final victory.”