Publishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons again is seen as a sign of defiance, but it’s deliberately offensive to Muslims

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Thursday 03 September 2020 11:42 BST
From the Charlie Hebdo attack to Nice - the moments that have rocked France

It is disgraceful to see Prophet Mohammad being used in such a derogatory way. The Charlie Hebdo attack was a tragedy, but these terrorists are not representative of Islam. Muslims should not be scapegoated into this category. Publishing the cartoons again is being paraded as a sign of defiance to terrorists but it is deliberately insulting and offensive.

Like others, we as Muslims respect freedom of speech, but not when it incites hatred. There are other ways to show solidarity and unity against the 2015 attack. As an imam, I am urging everyone to work together to counter this false narrative and not give rise to those that seek to exploit it. Extremists look to divide us, but we must not play into hateful rhetoric.

Imam Qari Asim
Islamophobia adviser to the UK government

Belarus protester rights

Your coverage of the recent protests in Belarus raises some important points about the protesters’ rights to access to justice and a fair trial.

Since the presidential elections took place last month, over 6,000 citizens have been arrested and detained – often with excessive use of force – for taking part in largely peaceful protests or voicing criticism of the government.

Many are being held in poor conditions, face ill-treatment and are being denied access to a lawyer. When protesters are allowed to meet with a lawyer, the principle of lawyer-client confidentiality is rarely upheld and lawyers are not given access to the information they need to adequately represent clients and defend their rights.

This directly contravenes the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is legally binding on Belarus, as well as the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

The independence of the legal profession is of the upmost importance in upholding the rule of law. If lawyers are hindered and harassed in carrying out their professional duties, as is currently the case in Belarus, and citizens cannot receive legal advice to enforce their rights, then effectively there is no access to justice.

We urge the Belarusian authorities to ensure that all citizens have access to legal representation and that all lawyers are allowed to carry out their work without undue external interference, so that the rule of law can be upheld and access to justice allowed.

Simon Davis, Law Society of England and Wales president
Sophie de Graaf, Lawyers for Lawyers executive director

Jacqueline R Scott, Institute for the Rule of Law of the International Association of Lawyers executive director and director general

Covid collaboration

Twenty-six million people worldwide have tested positive for Covid-19 and 863,000 have died. There is an enormous amount of data available to governments and scientists. Increasing social distancing has worked – dramatically at the early stages of infection in a population. Relaxing social distancing has increased the number of new infections. Clearly if the objective is to control the number of new infections the rules for social distancing need to be fine-tuned rather than abandoned. The hard way to do this is for each country to do its own thing on a trial and error basis. A better way is to learn from each other.

Full cooperation between governments and scientists should by now be giving every government sound advice on what works and what does not. It should be telling us what the best practice is, what social distancing policy is needed to control the number of new infections, the best approach to trace and test to complement social distancing, and whether economic recovery is compatible with the measures needed to control the number of new infections.

If the conclusion is that economic recovery is more important than controlling the number of new infections then a concerted effort will be needed to protect the vulnerable. The message to governments and scientists is straightforward – work together. The message to the public is straightforward – protect the vulnerable – stay apart – work together.

It will be arrogance that kills people, the arrogance of politicians that they know best without learning from others. The arrogance of individuals that they can do what they want because the risk to themselves is small.

Jon Hawksley

Europe can 'learn to live with' coronavirus says WHO director

In management theory, there is such a thing as a “halo effect”: management see something outstanding in what an employee does and they then generalise, believing that he or she is excellent in all respects (I would also posit the existence of a “horns” effect, but that’s for another day).

I think it likely that Dominic Cummings’s downright brilliance at creating simple if misleading slogans, which do actually win elections, has been extrapolated to the point of believing that he is also indispensable for the running of the government. Although there are of course actual members of the government who may be blamed, I would nevertheless suggest that the evidence thus far is that Cummings couldn’t advise the effective running of the proverbial whelk-stall.

Cole Davis

Wildlife cruelty

Reading of the desperately sad details of the last two Northern White rhinos in existence, I could not help but reflect on the global tragedies occurring which, it seems, receive little or no condemnation or consequences towards the nations responsible for the devastation.

Is it actually not allowed to criticise the countries that have inflicted near-extinction on colossally important species? To condemn them for their hideously cruel treatment of animals which has possibly created a global pandemic that has had immensely serious consequences, and killed hundreds of thousands of people? This is simply unbelievable.

The countries that allow such appalling things as the exploitation of elephants, rhino and pangolin to go on unchecked, without clamping down ruthlessly to exterminate the trade that is the whole reason for the wholesale destruction, should be the subject of absolute global condemnation and, if necessary, sanctions, until they effectively deal with their staggeringly cruel approach to animals.

Penny Little
Great Haseley, Oxfordshire

PM’s orgy of embarrassment

Our prime minister has apparently said the country is going through “an orgy of national embarrassment” about its traditions and history. I’m not sure about that, but the country is certainly going through a pandemic which has resulted in some 41,000 deaths – most likely more. That’s as well as a backlog of essential cancer and other medical treatments, widespread unemployment – which can only get worse – and as yet unmeasured resultant mental health problems, disruption (through clear government incompetence) to education, and more. We are also facing a no-deal Brexit.

And yet the prime minister finds the time to pontificate about the BBC’s Proms. That simply highlights the PM’s lack of focus and ability to govern, alongside his immature love of his own voice when pontificating about (diverting, he hopes) irrelevances.

Beryl Wall

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