Thursday, January 15, 2015

Désolé , Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie

The cowardly attack on the French satire magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' saw a wave of sympathy and disgust all over the world condemning the attack. 'Je suis Charlie' became the hashtag for this condemnation. This attack is deemed as an attack on human values and the freedom of speech. (Read: Charlie Hebdo and Rise of Right to be Offended).



One article on the topic drew my attention. Published today (11st Jan, 2015) in Times of India, the article is titled 'Why Paris is Even More Shocking Than Peshawar'. The main point of the article is - "The mowing down of schoolchildren was blood-curdling, but random. At Charlie Hebdo, the dead were chosen by name, and chosen expressly because they were a symbol of freedom".

The attack on the weekly is definitely cowardly and deplorable. But I think it can't compare to the brutality of what happened in Peshawar where 132 schoolchildren were massacred in a public school. Or, even to the brutality of the massacre of 2000 people by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Even if we neglect numbers and think only in philosophical terms, Paris attack is nowhere as deplorable as the Peshawar and Nigeria massacres. 

Why?

Because, the team at Charlie Hebdo knew what they were doing. They were fighting religious fundamentalism (not just Islamic variety). 
Check these cartoons that drew the Islamic ire. They do not mock Islam. They mock the all shades of religious fundamentalism - Islamic, Christian or Jewish. Therefore, in principle, Charlie Hebdo was at war with such fundamentalists.

A cartoonist's response after Charlie Hebdo attack.

So, one can argue that to Charlie Hebdo's literary attacks on the fundamentalists, the fundamentalists retaliated with guns. Not judging anything here.

Peshawar and Nigerian Massacres
Can same be said about what happened in Peshawar and in Nigeria? Whose war was that? Was it even a fair war? Those who lost their lives – were those even the players in the war?

The answers are NO.

Boko Haram Killings in Nigeria (Via @ianbremmer)
The attacks were random (or not). The attacks were caused to inflict pain and terror. The attacks targetted the softest sections - who were not even at war with the attackers.


So, while I sympathize with all those affected by the Charlie Hebdo attack, I am more shocked by what happened in Peshawar and Nigeria. Peshawar and Nigeria make me think that the world is not a safe place. It makes me worried about my daughter. It is frightening.




So, I must say this - Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie. Désolé. Je suis Mubeen.
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