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Collecting thoughts on Charlie

A collection of things, both interesting and inflammatory I've been reading over the last couple of days. Make up your mind which is which. This media coverage is disgusting and does not lead to a productive debate- between individuals or groups, ethnic or political, leading to any change in perception.

The solidarity shown by many media outlets, governments- and private people- is less than skin-deep, serving only to assuage their guilt, or to demonstrate their lack of it.

What is quickly becoming obvious is a lack of grounded understanding of a) the motivations the publishers of the news sheet had in putting out their sometimes shocking, sometimes smart, sometimes crass magazine every month b) the very real pain and mourning of family members, relatives and friends to the dead c) the risks of free speech and self-expression, which by now, I believe the above understood fully d) the recent history of the publication, going back ten years or so, and the brand of humour the authors ascribed to.

It has been reduced to a symbol to be interpreted as suits the needs of those 

who multiply it.

At this point, if I were to draw a cartoon about the event, it would reference a caricature by
Ganzeer, in which two terrorists were depicted against what I believe to be a stereotype of a Muslim cleric. I would replace the cleric by politicians, media observers, both far-right groups and Islamists, bloggers intent on hastily adding their voice to a debate they feel they have to part of, but are, in my opinion, premature in their participation. They're all smiling at the camera and exclaiming "Je suis Charlie!" happily, while standing over the bleeding, bullet-riddled corpses of the dead. Hanzala watches the scene, a silent reminder of those forgotten in the media debate.

There is no excuse for the events unfolding around us, whether it is a Boko Haram Massacre,  the recent suicide bomb attack in Lebanon, the Yemeni Car bomb attack, the Paris Murders, or the incitement to sectarian violence in European countries. 

A utopian view makes me hope that the events of January 7th will lead to a greater understanding and embracing citizens, whatever their background or ethnicity, as part of a pluralistic society, accepting differences, but also recognising the many common points and needs all members of that society have. A dystopian reality makes me question whether this utopian vision will ever happen.

Charlie Hebdo on Wikipedia / Charlie Hebdo sur Wikipedia


as of 11.01.2015

"Everything is forgiven" The day the counternarrative became the narrative.
Cover for the January 14th edition of Charlie Hebdo

The first step in fighting extremism is to break through our denial. The republic wants to think of itself as a place where minorities live in harmony with their society. “Liberty, equality, fraternity” are the principles we aspire to. Well, I’m sorry to break the news, but since the 1983 March for Equality and Against Racism—the first-ever response in France to a wave of racist crimes against people of Arab and African background—very little has changed.
Fighting Denial and Suspicion in France — OSF

Only a few credible causes have remained on the market of ideals, and the only one which seems to oppose imperialism today is the Islamic State (IS) or al-Qaeda. Besides, the way that those two organisations are depicted, like existential threats to the West, help make them credible. By exaggerating the threat of IS, we increase its attraction. Instead, I think that IS is not an existential threat; of course, we must fight it, fight its roots in the Iraqi and Syrian situations. But we have to be careful with the idea, heard these days, that we are engaged in a Third World War, this time against terrorism, thereby forgetting that the previous world wars opposed states, and not concepts.
Islamophobia becoming undeclared racism in France, says Alain Gresh — Middle East Eye

The people watching are, in some ways, imprisoned too. Gavin John Douglas Smith, in an article titled “Empowered watchers or disempowered workers”, convincingly shows how powerless most CCTV-operators feel. They are forced to look at situations without any way of influencing them, whenever something important happens they are pushed aside by somebody higher in rank, and they have zero freedom as they have to strictly follow procedure. They are actually being used as a small piece of human cognitive processing inside a giant automated surveillance system. They have to do the pattern recognition that computers aren’t capable of yet. We’ll get back to this theme later on.
Ai Weiwei is Living in Our Future —

Zwei Wochen nach den blutigen Anschlägen auf die Redaktionsräume der französischen Satirezeitschrift Charlie Hebdo in Paris werden in Europa Forderungen laut die Befugnisse der Sicherheitsbehörden weiter auszuweiten, um Terroranschläge wirksamer vereiteln zu können. So setzte die deutsche Bundesregierung die umstrittene Vorratsdatenspeicherung wieder auf die Tagesordnung, dabei hat Frankreich eine ähnliche Regelung bereits umgesetzt. Doch die Anschläge in Paris konnten nicht verhindert werden. Derweil zeigt das Beispiel Ägypten wie missbräuchlich und willkürlich ein Staat mit uneingeschränkten Befugnissen bei der Telekommunikationsüberwachung agieren kann, wenn diese mit dem Anti-Terror-Kampf legitimiert werden (in Die Wochenzeitung am 22.1.2015).
Ägyptens restriktive Netzpolitik Sofian Philip Naceur

By the same token, we can readily comprehend the comment in the New York Times of civil rights lawyer Floyd Abrams, noted for his forceful defense of freedom of expression, that the Charlie Hebdo attack is “the most threatening assault on journalism in living memory.” He is quite correct about “living memory,” which carefully assigns assaults on journalism and acts of terror to their proper categories: Theirs, which are horrendous; and Ours, which are virtuous and easily dismissed from living memory.
We Are All ... Fill in the Blank — Noam Chomsky

Mit der jüngsten Haltung, sich nicht vom IS-Terror distanzieren zu müssen, haben sie deutlich gemacht, wie tief das Gefühl der Minderwertigkeit in ihnen steckt. Denn irgendjemand könnte glauben, dass die Grausamkeiten etwas mit uns zu tun hätten. Kaum auszuhalten, wenn dieser Eindruck entstehen würde. Dumm nur, dass er sehr wohl etwas mit uns zu tun hat. Zum einen findet dieser Terror im Namen unserer Religion statt, und zum anderen sind die Männer und Frauen aus unseren Reihen – egal, ob Konvertit oder von Elternhaus – Muslime.
Die Opferrolle der Muslime in Deutschland nervt — Die Welt

I read that this is your September 11. Reading this commences a race within my own soul, between empathy and horror. Empathy for the reasons that are obvious. But why horror? Because I am an American who lived through and saw what happened to my country after that day. And I implore you, with all the authority I can muster, which isn’t much, I suppose; only the authority of an American who admires your country and its history and would rather drink a glass of good Burgundy nowhere else on Earth than the Place de la Contrescarpe: Do not do what we did, do not become what we became.
Hey France, Don’t Do What We Did After 9/11 — The Daily Beast

Interview with Makhlouf and Anwar, Caricaturists from Egypt (German)  — ORF

“The concept of radicalisation emphasises the individual and, to some extent, the ideology and the group, and significantly de-emphasises the wider circumstances – the ‘root causes’ that it became so difficult to talk about after 9/11, and that are still not brought into analyses,” writes Mark Segwick. “So long as the circumstances that produce Islamist radicals’ declared grievances are not taken into account, it is inevitable that the Islamist radical will often appear as a ‘rebel without a cause’.”
The convenient myth of radicalisation — Middle East Eye

So when the French government meets with officials from the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and other Western nations to discuss how to better cooperate on combating terrorism, they would be well-advised to focus on the causes rather than the symptoms. Resources are better spent on assisting indigenous reformers in the Middle East, whether secular or Islamist, in their efforts to create more political space for freedom of speech, association, and expression
How to prevent another Paris? Experts debate issues that divide, unite — CNN

The Egyptian grand mufti, the country’s most influential Muslim cleric, said the cover was “racist” while Dar al-Ifta, an Egyptian Islamic educational authority, described it as “an unjustified provocation against the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims”.

A leading association of Muslim academics based in Qatar and lead by preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi claimed it would “stir up hatred”.

Muslim leaders appeal for calm as Charlie Hebdo special hits the streets — The Guardian

Gerard Biard of Charlie Hebdo told AFP on Tuesday that the Turkish version was "the most important" of the five foreign versions of the weekly being published a week after 12 people were killed in a jihadist attack on its Paris offices.
Charlie Hebdo Turkish version to counter 'attack on secularism'- Yahoo News

It is thought that this sequence of events triggered something in the collective human psyche that night, as it became apparent that rather than fighting hypocrisy the answer is to simply embrace it and make it the universal norm. A still-sleepy Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations said: ‘I am happy we can all finally agree on something. The United Nations is the model for this type of thinking. I am going back to sleep now but tomorrow we will outline a new proposal to embrace this surprising turnaround in the human condition.
World Agrees Hypocrisy Is Our Only Hope — Karl reMarks

Paris - Der Trauermarsch für die Opfer der Anschläge von Paris wird in Erinnerung bleiben. Wegen der überwältigenden Solidaritätsgesten, in erster Linie. Aber auch wegen der skurrilen Details, die rund um die Aufnahmen der marschierenden Staats- und Regierungschefs bekannt werden.
Israel: Ultraorthodoxe Zeitung radiert Merkel aus Pariser Trauerfoto— Spiegel Online

More than 40 world leaders and top officials and politicians from around the world joined about 1.6 million people as they marched in Paris today [January 11] to denounce the terror attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket. The attacks, over three days, have left 17 people dead in France, including cartoonists and police officers. More than 3.7m people are estimated to have marched across the country today, making the rallies the largest in the nation's history. Similar but smaller solidarity gatherings were held in Cairo, Beirut, New York and Madrid, to name a few, in support of freedom of expression.
They Are Not Charlie: They Torture, Jail and Kill Journalists in Their Own Countries — Global Voices Online

Why? According to the lawyer, Charlie Hebdo will “cede nothing” to terrorists and extremists seeking to silence their voice.
Have Charlie Hebdo’s staff quickly forgotten the show of support from the Muslim population of France, and the Muslim world, against extremism?
From every day Muslims in Europe, children in Palestine and Lebanon, to Al-Azhar and the Arab League, Muslims across the globe joined together in declaring their stance against terrorism.
Charlie Hebdo Turns Its Back On Muslims, Plans New Prophet Muhammad Cartoons —

Audibert made it clear that in light of Netanyahu's intention to arrive, an invitation would also be extended to Abbas. And indeed, several hours after Abbas announced that he would not be traveling to Paris, his office issued a statement stating that he would in fact be at the march.
Hollande asked Netanyahu not to attend Paris memorial march— Haaretz

Reporters Without Borders singled out leaders from Egypt, Turkey, Russia, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as being responsible for particularly harsh environments for journalists. These countries rank respectively 159th, 154th, 148th, 121st and 118th out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom in a league table compiled by the group.
Presence at Paris rally of leaders with poor free press records is condemned

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the European Jewish Association, was quoted by the website as saying that he regretted that "after every anti-Semitic attack in Europe, the Israeli government issues the same statements about the importance of aliyah [immigration to Israel], rather than employ every diplomatic and informational means at its disposal to strengthen the safety of Jewish life in Europe."

European Jewish group slams Netanyahu's call for French Jews to immigrate to Israel-

Many in the past few days have pointed out that Charlie Hebdo was a racist, Islamophobic publication that perpetrated the colonial stereotypes of Muslim fanaticism. I do not want to get bogged down in “je suis Charlie/je ne suis pas Charlie,” which is proving to be a very lively debate on the limits of freedom of speech. Instead, I will say this: current events are an incentive to think beyond the colonial mindset. The colonial administrators that I read every day believed that Muslims inherently had different brains. For them, Islam clung to the skin and the genes, saturating the individual and leaving them no space to be social beings. They were “only Muslims” and nothing else, to borrow the title of Naomi Davidson’s recent book.
Charlie Hebdo and the Limits of the Republic —

Daily tabloid Hamburger Morgenpost targeted in arson attack after reprinting French magazine Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
German newspaper attacked 'over cartoons' — AlJazeera

The ideology and strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and Daesh does not advocate the creation of civil war in the ’West’, but on the contrary to create it in the “East” and hermetically separate the two worlds. Never has Sayyid Qutb, nor any of his successors, called to provoke confrontation between Muslims and non-Muslims in the territories of the latter.

Who ordered the attack against Charlie Hebdo? —

What is extraordinary, when even the most cursory consideration of recent history is taken into account, is not that this horrific incident occurred, but that such events do not happen more often. It is a great testament to the enduring humanism of the Muslim population of the world that only a tiny minority resort to such acts in the face of endless provocation.
Charlie Hebdo and the hypocrisy of pencils —

Below are cartoons drawn over the past several decades by Cabu, one of the most emblematic cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo (if not the most). Cabu was murdered along with his colleagues this past week. He was 75 years old.
The Charlie Hebdo cartoons no one is showing you.— Daily Kos

Before 10.01.2015

Is it time for me to be celebrated for my brave and noble defense of free speech rights? Have I struck a potent blow for political liberty and demonstrated solidarity with free journalism by publishing blasphemous cartoons? If, as Salman Rushdie said, it’s vital that all religions be subjected to “fearless disrespect,” have I done my part to uphold western values?

It is almost as if there is no hope. So many of us (Muslims) would rather not look in the mirror and address our shortcomings. We do not want to acknowledge our accountability for many of the problems we face in our part of the world and have exported to others. Yet those Muslims who do are finding it near to impossible to be heard.
Inner Workings of my Mind — Blog

Es klingt, als würde Heinen das in diesen Tagen inflationär benutzte Bekenntnis „Je Suis Charlie“ nicht als Zeichen der Solidarität zu verstehen, sondern als wehleidiges: Ja, uns wird auch Unrecht getan, durch diese bösen Rufe auf Demonstrationen und das alles.
Zeitungsverleger instrumentalisieren „Charlie Hebdo“-Anschlag für Kampf gegen Pegida

Les musulmans priés de condamner des terroristes : quelle folie !

But for Andeel, the outrage isn’t always just about religion.

“Part of this hatred has to do with the kind of feelings Egyptians are exposed to all the time. They hear about terrorism, death and violence on a daily basis in the media,” he said. “People have gradually lost their respect for and value of human life in general.”

“Imagine an oppressed Muslim deprived of all of his rights, someone who has not achieved a single success in his life, seeing armed men, in the name of Islam, killing those westerners who make fun of Islam,” Andeel continued. “It is a moment that this oppressed person wants to be part of. He strongly identifies with this utopia.”
Despite gov't statement, many Egyptians divided on Charlie Hebdo killings — Mada Masr

Le corolaire pratique de cette observation est que ces cérémonies de commémoration ne sont pas triviales. Derrière leur paravent de neutralité positive, elles sont des actes symboliques performatifs. Ces cérémonies nous enseignent quelles vies il convient de pleurer mais aussi et surtout quelles vies demeureront exclues de cette économie moderne et humaniste de la compassion.
Ces morts que nous n’allons pas pleurer —

Joe Sacco: On Satire – a response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks — TheGuardian

Muslim scholars responded quickly to the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which killed 12 and injured 10. Slamming the incident as un-Islamic, scholars express anger towards the perpetrators who "betrayed and tainted" Islam rather than defended it. In addition to vehemently condemning the attack, the scholars' comments reflected a concern about the damage it causes to the image of Islam and Muslims.
How Muslim Scholars View Paris Attack (In-depth) —

Charlie Hebdo was not in reality a model of freedom of speech. It has ended up, like so much of the “human rights left”, defending U.S.-led wars against “dictators”.
What to Say When You Have Nothing to Say? —

First, many of the most vocal ‘defenders’ of Charlie Hebdo are very new and selective fans of the satirist magazine. For instance, it is amazing how many Islamophobic and far right people are declaring their love for a magazine that until recently they would criticize as a ‘communist rag’ (after Charlie’s biting satire mocked their own heroes, from Jesus Christ to Marine Le Pen). These are the heroic defenders of free speech, like Geert Wilders, who want to ban the Quran because it incites violence.
No, we are NOT all Charlie (and that’s a problem) —

#JeSuisAhmed is an inspired attempt by Muslims to participate in the collective grief without capitulating to the demands that they apologize or condemn a massacre in which they had no part. It also allows them to avoid proclaiming support for a publication which routinely published extremely racist caricatures of Muslims, as well as other marginalized groups. But, perhaps more importantly, it forces non-Muslims to recognize the ways in which the crimes of religious extremists not only target them but victimize whole groups of Muslims.
“Wait, I’m Not #Charlie. I’m #Ahmed.” — Good Magazine

Here’s what’s difficult to parse in the face of tragedy: yes, Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical newspaper. Its staff is white. Its cartoons often represent a certain, virulently racist brand of French xenophobia. While they generously claim to ‘attack everyone equally,’ the cartoons they publish are intentionally anti-Islam, and frequently sexist and homophobic.
In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism —

Time and again, law-enforcement experts and civil-liberties advocates have warned about the perils of profiling based on religion or ethnicity. It goes without saying that it is morally wrong to impose guilt on individuals who happen to share the same immutable characteristics or religious faith as a criminal. But it also poses serious dangers to society.
Did Religious Profiling Allow Paris Terrorists to Proceed Undetected?

Let us not forget the pregnant Muslim woman who was attacked for wearing a Niqab in the Parisian suburb of Argenteuil. She not only suffered from anti-Islamic taunts by her attackers, but also had her veil ripped, hair cut off, and most depressingly of all, her soon-to-be born baby murdered via miscarriage.
Paris, #BlackLivesMatter, the Cultural Violence, and the White Western State —

Des petits détails encore une fois inexplicables, comment se fait-il que la chaine de la télévision d’infos en continu israélienne i24 ait annoncé les origines franco-alégrienne des assaillants dès 15 heures ? alors que aucun médias français n’étaient capable de le dire, et comment JSS annonce bien avant les médias français les noms de ceux-là ? Et comment se fait-il que le gouvernement américain relayé par CBS annonce la mort d’un terroriste et la capture de deux autres à cette heure, 1 heure du mat’ ? le scénario et l’attaque de Charlie hebdo serait ‘il déjà écrit ?
Les incohérences de l’attentat de charlie Hebdo, voici l’enquête qui va vous faire bondir —

Cartoonist promises to draw Mohamed every day for the rest of the year in protest of Charlie Hebdo attack —

But it’s wrong to approach this issue as an either-or question, to blaspheme or not blaspheme. Free speech allows us to say hateful, idiotic things without being punished by the government. But embracing that right means that we need to acknowledge when work is hateful or idiotic, and can’t be defended on its own terms. We need to recognize, as Vox’s Matt Yglesias argues today, that standing up for magazines like Charlie Hebdo is a “regrettable” necessity, in part because it provides cover for anti-Muslim backlash. “Blasphemous, mocking images cause pain in marginalized communities,” he writes. “The elevation of such images to a point of high principle will increase the burdens on those minority groups.” And the more those groups are mistreated, the more angry radicals we can expect to see.
Charlie Hebdo Is Heroic and Racist —

But rather than exulting in this, we ought to find it regrettable. The fact of the matter is that racist and Islamophobic attitudes are a huge problem in the everyday lives of Europe's Muslim population. Far-right political parties are on the rise, and mainstream parties are moving to co-opt their agendas. Blasphemous, mocking images cause pain in marginalized communities. The elevation of such images to a point of high principle will increase the burdens on those minority groups. European Muslims find themselves crushed between the actions of a tiny group of killers and the necessary response of the majority society. Problems will increase for an already put-upon group of people.
Two — but only two — cheers for blasphemy —

In real life, solidarity takes many forms, almost all of them hard. This kind of low-cost, risk-free, E-Z solidarity is only possible in a social-media age, where you can strike a pose and somebody sees it on their timeline for 15 seconds and then they move on and it’s forgotten except for the feeling of accomplishment it gave you. Solidarity is hard because it isn’t about imaginary identifications, it’s about struggling across the canyon of not being someone else: it’s about recognizing, for instance, that somebody died because they were different from you, in what they did or believed or were or wore, not because they were the same.
Why I am not Charlie —


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