I see the world in dots. When I connect them, I see the face of a human being! The world is one, like it or not. Connected in humanity. Connected in destiny.
I also tend to go beyond a localised focus on events. I prefer to see the bigger picture -- the global context. The dots are also there and when connected, I see how Raif Badawi's case connect to Charlie Hebdo, to Boko Haram's spree of violence in Nigeria, to al-Qaeda's attack on Yemenis celebrating a religious festival, and to Taliban's massacre of children in a school in Pakistan Peshawar.
How many times did you hear this sentence: the majority of victims of violent Islamic extremism live in Islamic countries. They are often of Islamic heritage -- Sunni or Shiites --; citizens of Christian, Jewish, Yazidi, Ahmmadi, or Baha'i traditions; atheists; people who think differently, and not to mention women and homosexuals.
But it never seems to ring a bell! People nod their heads absent-mindedly and only scream out at the top of their voices when it hits close to home.
All Victims Deserve Our Respect
Two thousand civilians were razed from the face of earth by extremist Boko Haram in Nigeria in a matter of days! This happened in the same week of Charlie Hebdo attack. The same week!
I have yet to see a similar solidarity to the one given -- rightly as it is -- to victims of Charlie Hebdo attack. Extend to these Nigerians the same respect! Be outraged!
It is not their numbers; it is not the color of the victims; it is not their nationality -- African or European. It's the human faces that matter.
A human was murdered because of a global threat. That should matter. The threat is real and it concerns us all. It has a name: violent Islamist extremism. We are all in this together, like it or not.
It is here where Raif Badawi enters in the picture. It is here where the dots connect.
His case, like that of the Charlie Hebdo's journalists, is a case of freedom of expression. Raif Badwai was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticizing the excess of the religious establishment in the Saudi Kingdom. He created a liberal forum, wrote a blog, and for that he was flogged.
Both, Charlie Hebdo and Raif Badawi, were expressing an opinion. Both were exercising a universal human right to freedom of press and freedom of opinion.
No Room here for Cultural Relativism
There is no room here for cultural relativism. Without the freedom of expression there is no freedom at all. Think of all the authoritarian and theocratic states in the world and the one thing that brings them together, in addition to their human rights violations, is the absence of freedom of expression.
Other dots are also here to connect.
Those who killed the journalists in Paris were followers of violent Islamist extremism. Those who lashed Raif are followers of non-violent Islamist extremism. The first kills in the name of God and the second violates in the name of God.
The two -- violent and non-violent Islamist extremisms are connected on a global level. The Kingdom has been exporting through its transnational arms its line of non-violent extremism, poisoning the well of Islam and radicalizing young men and women across the globe. It is this line of interpretation that paves the ground for the message of political Islam and in a latter stage to the resort of violence.
When we call on Saudi Arabia to free Raif Badawi and his lawyer Waleed Abulkhair, when we insist that the Kingdom should abide by international human rights conventions and treat its citizens, men and women, as citizens with dignity and rights. When we do that, we are also demanding an end to its exportation of global non-violent extremism.
Too much harm has been done by its ideology in many parts of the globe, North and South alike.
Connect the dots to see the global danger we are facing. Connect them to see the face of a human being. Yours. We are one, like it or not. United in humanity and destiny.
This post was first published by Qantara.