To be or not to be Charlie

Diversity is a healthy sign of a society, I believe. So when there is a cacophonous debate, I do make a genuine effort to expose myself to as many viewpoints as possible. Just like with the Charlie Hebdo attack on 7 January 2015.

What I first came across was the solidarity that other cartoonists and journalists as well as a crowd of Parisiens expressed after the event.

Countering the marches and the Twitter hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, however, there emerged #JeNeSuisPasCharlie. The argument put forward by it was twofold. First, the Charlie Hebdo incident is not a matter of free speech [but hate speech], and second, devastating as it surely is, it is getting disproportionate attention [due to Eurocentralism], while what’s happening in Palestine, Syria, Nigeria is hardly receiving any. As recent as the Pakistan school shooting on 16 December 2014, for that matter.

  • Why I am not Charlie (Gayeti Singh, The Citizen, 8 January 2015)
  • I am not Charlie Hebdo (David Brooks, The New York Times, 8 January 2015)
  • RT @Aboujahjah I am not Charlie, I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie ridiculed my faith and culture and I died defending his right to do so. #JesuisAhmed (8 January 2015)
  • RT @abuaardvark Glad so many world leaders could take time off jailing and torturing journalists and dissidents to march for free expression in France. (11 January 2015)
  • Media coverage of Charlie Hebdo and the Baga massacre: a study in contrasts (Ethan Zuckerman, The Conversation, 13 January 2015)
  • Who’s a Charlie? France cracks down on free speech in order to defend it (Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 14 January 2015)
  • Yes, the new Charlie Hebdo cover is offensive (Jonathan Cook, 15 January 2015)
  • RT @Akil_N_Awan Powerful cartoon in @Independent today on selective remembrance of victims #CharlieHebdo #Syria #NigerianLivesMatter (18 January 2015)
  • RT @PabloK And so, will it be #WeAreAllCharleston? Or will universalism’s mask slip, to reveal its partiality – the real politics of identity – afresh? (18 June 2015)

Then there were also a handful of articles (that I read) that attempted to link this incident to bigger discussions, particularly the important distinction between Arabs, Muslims and fundamentalists.

The whole complexity of the matter has left me with a heavy heart and confused mind. I will continue reflecting on it here, but for the time being, I think I will leave it at the following photo (originally displayed by @FrancoisF24, 11 January 2015).



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