The Paris Attack: Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie

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All around the world people are standing up in solidarity with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. While some people are crying for free speech, others – particularly anti racists, victims of sexual abuse, feminists, and religious groups – are more hesitant to lend solidarity to people who have made a business out of mocking their struggles. Charlie Hebdo supporters are in many cases people who would have condemned and looked down their noses at these offensive comics had there been no massacre. Of course there is no justification for wiping out half of the editorial staff of a magazine for its content, but that doesn’t make the victims heroes of free speech.

Hebdo supporters defend the comics ardently, proclaiming Charlie Hebdo to be a radical left publication. It’s common knowledge that Hebdo considered its self to be leftist and against racism. To that I must say that somewhere along the line, they lost their way. There’s nothing leftist or radical about insulting oppressed groups with islamophobic, homophobic, or anti-semitic imagery, no matter what your intentions are.

A blogger in the Middle East criticized the editorial lines of Charlie Hebdo. Yazan Al-Saadi wrote:

“I see nothing heroic about a bunch of elite white writers and artists picking on the identities and beliefs of minorities. Satire is supposed to be an act that punches up to power, and not down to the weak. The argument for “freedom of speech” and freedom of the press should not, and must not, place aside the question and understanding of privileges and differing power dynamics that are at work. By acknowledging and understanding that, perhaps we can all work to refine and develop a notion of freedoms that is truly universal and conscious of its role and duties.”

Many of us are left wondering, is this a fight for “free speech” as much as it is a fight for westerners to be provocative bigots with impunity? Are we supposed to honor the courage that it took for these cartoonists to insult oppressed groups? It’s becoming very hard to tell if people are defending their right to draw these images, or if they are defending the images themselves. For many, it is quite clear that the latter is true. Anti-Islam protesters such as the right wing “Pegida” movement in Germany are exploiting the murders to increase their already alarming number of supporters. There will be at least 13 Pegida marches in Germany in solidarity with Hebdo.

There have already been many far right attacks against Muslims since the massacre. In one instance, a grenade was hurled at a mosque in France. There also was vandalism in Vlaardingen, Netherlands on a mosque with paint. In Berlin Nazis attacked migrants at Kotti, resulting in several injuries. There have been at least fifteen, see the infographic below for more information.

antimuslimattacks

Chauvinist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda thrive off recruiting those who are most marginalized by western society. One of the Kouachi brothers involved in the Hebdo massacre who claims involvement with ISIS and to be on a mission from the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda said:

“But we are not killers. We are defenders of the prophet. We don’t kill women, we don’t kill anyone. We defend the prophet. If someone offend the prophet then there is no problem, we can kill him. But we don’t kill women. We’re not like you. You’re the ones killing the children of Muslims in Irak, in Syria, in Afghanistan. That’s you. Not us. We have honor codes in Islam.”

Multiple attacks followed the original massacre. Police have killed the Kouachi brothers who were allegedly responsible for the original massacre, after entering a print shop where they were holding a hostage. Police responded to and entered a kosher grocery store where hostages were being held in a related incident, four hostages died.

Islamists and far right protesters are not the only ones cashing in on this tragedy. Governments in Europe are already gearing up to push draconian anti-immigrant legislation. The Greek Prime minister used Charlie Hebdo in his election campaign. Samaras said:

“SYRIZA (opposition party) doesn’t live in this country. They want to give masses of illegal immigrants greek citizenship, social security and access to our healthcare system […] In Paris there was a massacre today and here some are inviting illegal immigrants and distribute passports.”

France’s own Le Pen is calling for a referendum about reintroducing the death penalty in France as a reaction to the attacks. MI-5 is demanding new powers for increased surveillance following the attack. Dutch fascist Wilders (from the PVV, biggest party in the polls in the Netherlands right now) demands an end of all immigration from muslim countries. “Its Islam that causes all problems, its Muhammed, the Quaran that causes these problems and nothing else.” Wilders also demands the deployment of the army to secure train stations, shopping malls and squares.

Predictably, anti-semitic conspiracy theorists couldn’t help themselves either. jesus2 Seemingly, there was no intent from the cartoonists to incite violence, but by design, provocative speech is meant to elicit some kind of response from it’s victim. Regardless, the outcome is incitement of violence against Muslims, Jews, and the other targets of their cartoons. One can only conclude that the winners of this situation will be reactionaries from all sides. Governments worldwide will introduce draconian laws, increasing the surveillance state and persecution of Muslims and immigrants. Pegida and movements like it will grow, as will ISIS, and through it all there will be a loud chorus of western voices proclaiming solidarity with a deeply offensive publication.

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