Even in the face of death threats

Zineb El Rhazoui is still speaking out.

Zineb El Rhazoui was 1,500 miles away, on vacation in Morocco, when gunmen forced their way into the Paris offices of the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, fatally shooting nine people. As the publication’s religion writer, she would ordinarily have also been present at the editorial meeting which was targeted by terrorists Saïd and Chérif Kouachi — motivated, it is thought, by the magazine’s controversial depictions of Muhammad and various Muslim clerics.

For the 20 months since the massacre of her colleagues, El Rhazoui has remained steadfast in her critiques of extremist Islamism, including publishing two books — even in the face of death threats.

She has a baby now…but she still doesn’t see backing down as an option.

“After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, when I started to be targeted by all of those fatwas, a lot of people told me, ‘Why don’t you go somewhere in the world, change your name, and live happily with your family?’ and I thought about it. But I felt that if I go somewhere, if I stop being the person I am, if I change my name and hide my identity, it’s exactly like I was killed also on the 7th of January.”

Hundreds of thousands of people are waging the same battle against oppression that she is, she reasons, and without protections — just as journalists around the world are remaining courageous in the face of threats to their lives.

“I don’t have the right to shut my mouth,” she said.

“I don’t have the right to be silent.”

All this terrorizing for the sake of an imagined jealous god.

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