Hassan Yousefi Eskhevari is an Iranian dissident religious intellectual who has spent four years in prison. He now lives in exile in Germany, where he has advocated the establishment of a secular government in Iran and remains a prominent critic of the Iranian regime. Below is a translation to English of his 1/7/2015 statement about the #CharlieHebdo terror attacks, “No! This is No Longer My God!”
No! This Is No Longer My God!
Crime, cruelty, and evil once again produced a tragedy today (Wednesday, January 7, 2015) when a number of French citizens and artists were killed in a volley of bullets by a group of terrorists who claim to be Muslims. Things are going from bad to worse.
What a surprise! There was once a time when the call “Allah-o-Akbar” (God is great!) was a sacred cry for the freedom and liberation of mankind from the evil trifecta of “gold, force, and deception.” In the days of the Iranian revolution — and even within the past few years, at the height of the Green Movement — the Muslim people of our nation, who live under autocratic conditions without freedom of the press, gathered on rooftops on dark nights to call out “Allah-o-Akbar.” Even their non-religious, liberal-minded peers accompanied them. Whether religious or not, whether in Iran or abroad, everyone could smell that scent of living well, of freedom and liberation, and of the rejection of cruelty and violence.
But what now? In the global public square — including the Muslim world — Islam is a faith in question. Being Muslim has acquired the connotation of an accusation. Nowadays, slaughter, terror, and tragedy are carried out everywhere under the slogan “Allah-o-Akbar,” in the name of Islam, or in the name of defending the Prophet and the Quran. Let me speak frankly: Allah-o-Akbar no longer has any personal or spiritual meaning for me. Rather, when I hear that criminal, inhumane terrorists who claim to be Muslim have cut out the liver from someone’s body in Syria and then chanted “Allah-o-Akbar” with wholehearted emotion and even with some pleasure, I feel overwhelmed by aversion and disgust.
Or, when I hear that these corrupt and evil terrorists, under the refrain of Allah-o-Akbar, stormed the offices of a publication (even if that publication may have committed ethical misjudgments) to shoot and kill people there, then “Allah-o-Akbar” becomes twinned with cruelty and crime. And, of course, that Allah is no longer my Allah and he can only be considered “the greatest” insofar as he is the most criminal and the most violent.
What strange times, what irony!