An attack on any organization is unacceptable. Especially when that organization is in the business of Freedom of Speech and Expression.
Charlie Hebdo is a satirical French magazine and on Wednesday 7th January at a usual editorial meeting around 1130hrs gunmen broke in and opened fire on the team. How did things get this far?
The magazine had printed a cartoon on the Islamic State militant group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and has in the past, created cartoons on the Prophet Mohammed. Under the French law, there is no restriction on what it can draw or print and what it cannot.
It was clear that this was a terrorist attack and French President Francois Hollande called for “unity, solidarity and vigil” to his citizens. “Those who committed these acts have nothing to do with the Muslim religion” he added on his National address after the two hostage situations on Dammartin-en-Goele and the Kosher store in Porte de Vincennes on Friday 9th January were brought to an end.
The brothers Cherif Kouachi and Said Kouachi led these attacks and their accomplice Amedy Coulibaly had recorded a video “declaring war on France for their alliance in the fight against Syria”.
Should a “satirical magazine” pay the price for its freedom of expression like this? Blood, lives lost, innocent bodies? Charlie Hebdo was just doing their job, which is to poke a cruel joke at a situation or person. If it is shut down, that closes the movement for freedom of press in many forms. Just like an individual is entitled to his or her opinion so should a “satirical magazine”. The Islamic terrorists need to see beyond the cartoon and see that this magazine indulges in “satire”. What is that? Why does it exist and how much personally to take it? When they post their videos showing off their machine guns, slogans from the Koran, call for war, exercise and prepare for so called martyrdom, does that not mislead people to see and think that this is what Islam is about?
They are using the videos as their Freedom of Speech, but does the police or army come to their home in France, Sweden, Germany or wherever they live and open fire on them?
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has made it clear that “France is in a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islamism, against everything that is intended to break fraternity, liberty, solidarity.”
What about the 200,000 lives lost in Syria because of their internal conflict between President Bashar al-Assad’s loyal forces and the opposition? Are the Islamic terrorists not counting those lives and want to send a message to President Bashar al-Assad to stop?
This attack is an attack on democracy. France has one of the largest living population of Muslims and hurting Charlie Hebdo is fuelling racism and anti-semitism. #JeSuisCharlie which means “I am Charlie” is a powerful slogan standing united with the journalists, media personalities and those who value freedom of speech and expression that we are allowed to say what we want in the context of “satire”, make the difference and don’t let the bullets shower for nothing.