About this iReport
  • Approved for CNN

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    Posted January 8, 2015 by
    Baltimore, Maryland
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    I am a Muslim in America

    More from amaramaj

    Freedom of Speech Infringed Upon in France: My Perspective as a 17-Year-Old Muslim American


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     “As a Muslim American, the attack on France deeply distresses me,” says 17-year-old high school student Amara Majeed. “Infringing upon an individual’s freedom of speech is a regression into history; it is a shame on a global scale that murder was resorted to after cartoonists legally used their liberties.”
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    My senior year of high school: fruitlessly attempting to wrap my developing 17-year-old brain around the abstract concepts of ‘comparative advantage’ and ‘aggregate supply’ in my AP Econ class, requesting transcripts and frantically typing writing supplements while impatiently anticipating acceptances into my dream universities, and competing against the intellectual prowess of Yuzhu Shi, my ulta-competitive and exceptionally brilliant opponent in a game of Trivia Crack.


    As I merge seamlessly into the seemingly unknown realms of young adulthood, I am gradually feeling increasingly appreciative of the freedoms I have as an American citizen. My Facebook news feed regularly displays the denial of these rights that I take for granted: women forced to be covered, their trailing black garments failing to conceal the injustice stricken in their beautiful eyes, young men mercilessly killed for speaking out against their governments, and homosexuals facing unimaginable intolerance and ruthless persecution in Africa.


    Living in my worry-less western world, the internet is a small, intriguing window that I use to peer into the corruption and injustice of the rest of the world. I have never been deprived of something that was truly mine—I would never know the feeling of being denied my freedom to speak, to express, to live happily. For this reason, previously, I have never truly acknowledged or appreciated the liberties I have as an American individual. As Scout observed in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”


    As a Muslim American, the attack on France deeply distresses me. Infringing upon an individual’s freedom of speech is a regression into history; it is a shame on a global scale that murder was resorted to after cartoonists legally used their liberties. Every time we as a society regress into history and deny individuals of their human rights, we are essentially undoing the tireless efforts of the people in the past who have worked so hard to establish the freedoms that we take for granted today. We are dragging ourselves back into the past, failing to move forward into the future. In turn, we are hindering progression, halting the advancement of modern society.


    All ideologies—Christianity, Buddhism, feminism, democracy, Judaism, capitalism—are susceptible to criticism. Islam is no exception to this. While I find Charlie Hebdo to be crass and disrespectful, I support the magazine’s right to uphold their ideas. As the French writer Voltaire once said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”


    As a result of this horrifying loss of innocent lives and infringement of basic freedoms, it is critical that society does not turn its hatred for terrorism into a hatred for Muslims. It is extremely disheartening to see hashtags such as #KillAllMuslims on Twitter. Time and time again, Muslims from across the globe, myself included, listen to the horrific stories on the news with disgust. Despite the irrationality of it all, we feel guilt; we feel shame; we feel apologetic. There are Muslims around the world that touch their heads to the ground while prostrating to their God with humility, silently praying for an end to this heartless violence. In our collective outrage towards the injustice of the situation, we mustn’t deprive Muslims of the very rights to life that were denied to the twelve beautiful lives that were taken so prematurely.


    We must continue to contribute to the advancement of modern society—continue to progress and validate the people of the past who have sacrificed their lives for the rights and liberties we know today.


    We must keep moving through the present and forward into the future without regressing into the deep realms of history, without pointlessly repeating the past.

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