God created everything, and the Torah says that after this magnificent act, God found that everything was good; the first ever art critique. Creativity belongs to divinity. God has given humanity one of the best gifts that could be considered as the crown of every gift. When we do anything creatively we are imitating God. Writers, painters, musicians and all other artists make life more meaningful.
The horrendous and inhumane act of killing the artists and staff of Charlie Hebdo reminds me of the assassination and silencing of the Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali. Their creativity had enabled them to speak so eloquently through their art about that which was never spoken; as a result they were considered by some to be dangerous. Sadly, a few decided that Charlie Hebdo needed silencing too.
Creativity can produce beauty, but it can also threaten, upset, shock and even confront. This makes artists vulnerable because the interpretation of the art is in the minds of others. Sometimes art is for art’s sake, but often, and always in the case of cartoonists, the artist uses their art as a vehicle for their message. As Jean Cabut, one of the cartoonists who was killed, said, "Sometimes laughter can hurt but laughter, humour and mockery are our only weapons." Because of that, we must defend the freedom of people to express themselves creatively. Satire is one of the most effective political forces in the world, and it can change attitudes, hearts and minds when nothing else will work.
The greatness of art is that it immortalises the artist and constantly conveys their message. It reminds us that the work of God in those special people is beyond the reach of time and of evil. Art cannot be silenced, just as God cannot be silenced!
The message of art to those who try to destroy it is that it cannot be destroyed, and there will always be others who will keep the flame of creativity alight.
This article was originally written for Faith Matters, a not for profit organisation founded in 2005 which works to reduce extremism and interfaith and intra-faith tensions around the globe.