In the light of today’s atrocity, as an occasional cartoonist, the very least I can do is to re-publish Charlie Hebdo’s last tweet. Particularly since the artist, Philippe Honore, was one of the casualties:
Et surtout la santé, “And especially health”, eh? Just before I heard the news from Paris, I’d read a comment by Harley pointing out another barbarity. ISIL’s Al-Baghdadi is indeed very much concerned with “health”. Both ISIL and Al Qaeda ban smoking. Particularly among their own members, it seems:
In a grotesque twist of the saying “live by the sword, die by the sword”, an Islamic State executioner in Syria who carried out beheadings for the jihadist group has been found with his head cut off.
The body of Egyptian-born Abu Zaid al-Masri, the deputy emir of the feared al-Hesbah (or Hisbah) force in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, was recovered near a power plant in al-Mayadeen city, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The corpse showed signs of torture and carried the message “This is evil, you Sheikh” written on it. The severed head also had a cigarette in its mouth. It is unclear who carried out the decapitation but the message was obvious.
Islamic State’s (formerly known as Isis) ban on cigarettes is one of its signature polices. It has imposed a strict set of Sharia laws barring the use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes in the territories it has conquered across a swathe of Iraq and Syria.
IS has declared smoking “slow suicide” and demands that “every smoker should be aware that with every cigarette he smokes in a state of trance and vanity is disobeying God”.
Hisbah is IS’s religious police who perform the role of enforcing the group’s twisted version of sharia in the self-styled caliphate.
On a day when everyone is (very properly) denouncing the day’s Paris terrorism as an “attack on freedom and an attack on our values”, it ought to be pointed out that the antismoking terrorism visited upon hundreds of millions of smokers by Western antismoking zealots isn’t very different from the antismoking terrorism of Al Qaeda and ISIL. This also is an attack on freedom and an attack on values.
In their hatred of smoking, there really isn’t a cigarette paper between the attitudes of ASH and the WHO and most Western governments to smoking, and the attitudes of ISIL and Al Qaeda to smoking. They are both utterly intolerant, divisive, and bullying.
But I somehow doubt that Al Qaeda’s intolerance of smoking is going to be set beside its intolerance of satirical journalism. For while the latter intolerance is almost universally regarded as twisted and evil, the former intolerance is almost equally universally regarded as enlightened and progressive.
Incidentally, a smoker appears on the latest Charlie Hebdo front cover. It features the predictions by toothless, smoking Michel Houellebecq in his latest novel, Submission, (published this morning) of the coming islamisation of the EU: