This is the strange world we live in. Philippe Val, the editor of Charlie Hebdo magazine, is the ultimate hero of free speech. Ah yes, apart from that time he sacked Maurice Sinet for penning an allegedly anti-Semitic column about Nicolas Sarkozy’s son. Marc Bonnant, champion of rhetoric and polemic, is a terrible and bigoted Islamophobe, hater of Muslims and critic of Islam. Ah, but no matter: he must now act on behalf of Tariq Ramadan in his defamation suit against his four Swiss accusers.

Yes, and Jonas Haddad is definitely suspect, having accepted an invitation to visit Israel from the Union of Jewish Students of France four years ago: clear evidence, if ever it were needed, that the client he represents is part of an awful Zionist conspiracy. Ah, but don’t worry: we won’t use Yaël Hayat’s membership of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists as clear evidence of a Zionist conspiracy on the other side, because the client she represents is on record as saying he’s not very keen on Zionists.

Doublespeak at its finest: for our enemies we will pursue every tenuous connection we can find. For our friends, thankfully, we are fine rationalists: who in their right mind would make political capital from tenuous connections like these? Left and right, religious and secular, we all do it: there is one standard for ourselves and another for our enemies.

I do not blame these purported great men so much as I blame their followers, who ascribe grandeur and piety to them far beyond their due. True, some are narcissists of the highest order, but others are simply victims of the portraits we ourselves project onto them. It is their hyper-zealous followers who will attack the enemy for taking a Jewish lawyer as their council, invoking a sinister anti-Muslim plot; the great leader they adore has no such qualms: he simply engages the best lawyer in the land, irregardless. These men to whom we have attributed eminence and renown are free of the idiocy of their admirers.

Do we not recall those people in the Qur’an who will protest, “Our Lord, indeed we obeyed our masters and our dignitaries, and they led us astray from the way”? Do we not recall the response of those they took as lords? Alas, to their sudden shock and horror, they will find those they blindly followed denying them. They will not benefit us at all, because each soul carries the burden of their own actions on their own soul: “Then every soul will be compensated for what it earned, and they will not be treated unjustly.”

In truth, those we champion or attack are merely useful idiots, just as biased and compromised as the rest of us. Our masters and dignitaries will be held to account for their own actions, but they are free of what we falsely ascribe to them. On that awesome Day, when every soul is gathered, will Philippe Val come to the aid of the secularist masses who turned him into a heroic saint? And the scholars and monks we took as lords beside Allah?

To our immense regret, the answer is no. They will deny us and, ultimately, we will deny them. And so, surely it is better that we abandon our foolish doublespeak, through which we praise or demonise our friends and foes, depending on the demands of the moment. Every soul will be compensated for what it earned, and no amount of doublespeak on that Day will be our rescue.

“And fear a Day when you will be returned to God. Then every soul will be compensated for what it earned, and they will not be treated unjustly.” — Qur’an 2:281


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