Charlie Hebdo attack

On 7/1/2015 terrorists attacked Charlie Hebdo office and murdered two policemen and ten others; according to one report all of them journalists, according to another report eight of them journalists, one maintenance worker and one visitor. Charlie Hebdo is a magazine known for cartoons that offended many people. Some cartoons offended Muslims. The terrorists had masked their faces. They claimed to be members of Al Qaeda. After murders they left in a car.
Leaders of different countries and Muslims leaders in France condemned the attack. John Kerry said the journalists were martyrs for liberty. People demonstrated against the attack and many carried badges with the slogan Je Suis Charlie (I Am Charlie.) Marie Le Pen demanded institution of death penalty.
Charlie Hebdo journalists knew their cartoons offended Muslims. They did not care. French law gave them liberty to draw those cartoons and they used it. They reprinted Danish cartoons. Many other newspapers and magazines had reprinted Danish cartoons. Charlie Hebdo’s previous office was fire bombed.
Terrorists kill many people. Some attacks make news. This attack made news because it happened in Paris and targets were famous people.
Many condemned the killings. Some of them said freedom of speech and expression should be limited and people should not do that offends others. Indirectly they blame Charlie Hebdo journalists for offensive cartoons. Some others said the magazine provoked Muslims. French ambassador Francois Richter said no one has to buy the magazine.
Laws regarding freedom of speech and expression differ from country to country. In some European countries denial of holocaust is forbidden. Muslims want ban on cartoons that offend them.
Charlie Hebdo had security but that was not enough. Policemen should have been bulletproof from head to toe.
Charlie Hebdo’s usual circulation is 60,000 copies. They want to print a million copies for next issue.
Offence is subjective. What offends one can be funny to another and vice versa. The Interview was a funny film for many Americans but offensive for many North Koreans. North Korea’s comparison of Barack Obama to an African monkey was offensive for many Americans but funny for many North Koreans. In India there were TV ads which were funny for Indians and offensive for Africans.
In India constitution and law limit the freedom of speech and expression. Many times what is legally permissible is banned because some people take offence and resort to violence. However if there is support from others there is no ban. Some people found PK offensive and wanted a ban on the film. They belonged to RSS group. Then Akhilesh Yadav said PK is a good film and made it tax free in UP. After that Nitish Kumar praised the film. There was no ban.
Some people in film industry who were vociferous votaries of freedom of speech and expression and were against censorship changed their views when they joined political parties. Khushboo and Mahesh Bhatt are examples.

Two terror attacks

On 15/12/2014 Man Haron Monis held 17 people as hostages in Lindt Chocolat Café, Marin Place, Sydney. He was the lone gunman. He made some people stand near the window. Some hostages escaped during the day. At night there was gunfire in the café. Commandos went in and shot him. Two others died. One was Tori Johnson, 34, manager of the café, and the second, Katrina Dawson, 38, an attorney. Some were injured. The siege was over by 2.15 a.m. on 16/12/2014.
Australians had first experience of terror in their country. It was by an Iranian who had sought asylum in Australia in 1996 and later became citizen. There were many criminal cases against him. He was charged with murder of his ex-wife Noleen Hayson Pal. He had a case of sexual assault against him. He was out on bail. It reflects poorly on Australian judicial system and badly on unscrupulous lawyers who represented Monis. This is a lesson to people who praise the policy “bail, not jail”.
Iran had warned Australia about criminal background of Monis. Monis’ original name was Manteghi Bourjerdi. Monis was on watch list of Australian Security Intelligence Oragnaisation in 2008 and 2009 and later his name was dropped. He was 49 or 50 years old. He claimed to be a cleric and had assumed the title of Sheikh. He had written to offensive letters to families of eight Australian soldiers who had died in Afghanistan. He wanted ISIS flag and wanted to talk to Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Abbott.
Many placed flowers outside the café. Abbott and his wife Margie were among them.
On 16/12/2014 terrorists attacked Army Public School in Peshawar and killed teachers and students. Many were injured. By evening 132 students and nine teachers had died. Few more succumbed to injuries later on. Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility and said it was revenge for attack on the Taliban.
In Pakistan many schools and students had been attacked before, mostly in tribal regions. This happened in Peshawar and on a large scale. In 2012 Malala Yousafzai was shot at. She survived the attack. The attack boomeranged on the Taliban. Malala became famous and at 17 went on to become the youngest recipient of Nobel Peace Prize.
Nawaz Sharif declared three days mourning. He convened all party meeting in Peshawar. He said there is no good Taliban and bad Taliban. He revoked stay on death penalty.
Pakistan’s army chief Raheel Sharif went to Kabul and demanded the extradition of Mulla Fazlullah. Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of abetting terrorism in Pakistan and wants extradition of Mulla Omar.
In India Parliament and schools observed two minutes silence. On #IndiaWithPakistan many Indians condemned Peshawar attack and offered condolences.
On 18/12/2014 there was outrage in India as Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi got bail in 26/11 case. India made it displeasure known to Pakistan. Pakistan put Lakhvi under three month detention.
Media persons should refer to terrorists as such and not as extremists and militants.
The children and teachers who died in terror attack in Peshawar are murder victims and not martyrs.
Some other incidents happened during those days but they did not get much publicity. There was terror attack in Saudi Arabia and kidnapping of girls in Nigeria.
It is foolish to show mercy to murderers and high criminals.
There are people who say a terrorist is a terrorist, he has no religion. Their ignorance is profound. There are passages in different scriptures that justify killing and violence. In Pakistan’s case it is an Islamic Republic. Non-Muslims are second class citizens. Some Muslims consider themselves true Muslims and others as infidels or false Muslims. They do not want democracy. Pakistan has to come hard on terrorism. Otherwise it may end like Libya.

Death of Phillip Hughes

On 25/11/2014 Phillip Joel Hughes was felled by a bouncer bowled by Sean Abbott. He was playing for South Australia against New South Wales in Sheffield Shield at Sydney Cricket Ground and was 63 not out. It was 2.23 p.m. local time. The ball hit him behind the ear where there was no protection from helmet. He was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. He did not recover and died on 27/11/2014. He would have been 26 on 30/11/2014.
Many players have been hit by bouncers. Some were out of action for some time. In 1962 Nari Contractor was hit by a bouncer bowled by Charles Griffith. He was conscious for six days and retired from Test cricket. In 1975 Ewen Chatfield was hit by a bouncer bowled by Peter Lever. That time batsmen did not wear helmets.
Geoffrey Boycott was the first to wear helmet. People laughed at the time but soon others followed. Chest guards and other protective gear came in.
Rahul Dravid and Stuart Broad had to miss Tests due to injuries caused by bouncers even though they were wearing helmets.
Phillip Hughes was wearing helmet. The company that produced the helmet said Phillip Hughes was wearing old helmet. If he had worn new helmet he would have been saved.
Phillip Hughes’ funeral is on 3/12/2014. Brisbane Test was to begin on 4/12/2014. It has been postponed. Dates are not decided. Australian cricketers are devastated. David Warner, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Nathan Lyon were present when Phillip Hughes fell down. Michael Clarke was at the hospital.
Phillip Hughes’ death shows the frailty and fragility of human existence. A healthy young man falls while playing cricket and in two days he is dead.
Some will call for ban on bouncers. Phillip Hughes had faced bouncers before. This was a freak accident. For some time bowlers will be hesitant to bowl bouncers.
Numbers 63, 64 and 408 are associated with Phillip Hughes. He was 63 not out in his last Innings. 408 was his Test cap number and 64 was his ODI jersey number.