Mordor vs Gondor. Men of the West, it is time to fight or die.
Ah yes, what a lovely tune! How that breed puffs and struts when there’s nothing to do but sing! These days, with its swelling cliché chorus, how expert it is in feigning concern without taking a stand; in basking in the trumpet’s blare while marking time in place; in pouring out into the street to beat the drum for the revolution, yet never leaving the pavement hallowed with a single corpse for a single cause; in cherishing its heroic illusions, bought for a song! In no time the Council of Ministers gave their approval. Plan a welcome? Why not! With the universe all eyes and ears, think how awed and impressed it would be!
—The Camp Of The Saints, Chapter Sixteen
So, should the drawings match the description? Or maybe it would have changed something had he been replaced by an empty space, or a turban, or a question mark? This would have been the most ludicrous of caricatures, and is not how Charlie works. Must we feel morally obliged to respect Muhammed, as his most fervent followers would have us do? No more than we have moral obligation to respect Jesus or Moses. There are some in France who feel that by drawing the Islamic prophet we are pushing the boundaries too far. These are the same people who are indulgent towards Islam. Yet it is an indulgence tinged with contempt as they are convinced that this particular religion is stuck in a time well before the Enlightenment. Because they pander to the most narrow minded Muslims – those who can’t even see how they are being patronised – they lead these men and women on to chase the false hope of one day living in a France where ‘blasphemy’ is made illegal. This book is for neither group. In fact, it is for the countless more reserved individuals out there, who haven’t traded in their sense of humour for the unsmiling grouch of those self-proclaimed guardians of the truth who are ready to take up arms in defence of an unwritten law. After all, is Islam not a religion of the written word? Here’s a challenge: may he who finds the section of text within the Qur’an or the sunnah wherein it is forbidden to draw Muhammad, or anyone for that matter, cast the first stone. It’s not because Charlie is concerned with abiding by Islamic precepts, but more by dint of combing through the source material, that it turns out that this most unshakeable of taboos within Islam, a religion that relies on the written word as proof of Allah’s teachings, is based on nothing. A taboo that has people protesting in the streets, in the name of which crimes are committed; a taboo which has long seen Charlie relegated to the fires of hell by groups of Shi’ite Muslims. Yet Persian illuminations show a turbaned Muhammad sitting cross-legged as he conveys his teachings…
In France it is still considered subversive to not comply with supposed religious proscription, the same France that not too long ago was at loggerheads with the Catholics. In this book, the atheistic, secular, universalist and antiracist Charlie offers you a French-style reworking of the history of a religion that has taken root in France. Herein lies the story of Muhammad, as told by his faithful followers, because it is important for the layman to know the story of a man who changed the course of History.