Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Charlie Hebdo: thoughts

My thoughts on the incident

For everyone who doesn't know it already: Two armed men have attacked the headquarter of the French satirical magazine 'Charlie Hebdo'. They have killed 12 people and injured seven. They are still escaping. It is all over the media. And Francois Hollande, the French president, has already addressed the nation.

The attack came just a few hours after the magazine had tweeted a cartoon mocking ISIS leader Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi: https://twitter.com/Charlie_Hebdo_/status/552773881283764224/photo/1 .

It is probably important to say a few things about the magazine: 'Charlie Hebdo' is a satirical magazine that has ever represented a very left-wing point of view and has been critical of religion. Its cartoons do often mock religious personalities. For example, the magazine published a cartoon in 2006 about the Muslim prophet Muhammad which evoked huge criticism.

Last but not least, it is to say that the today's attack was not the first on the magazine. The 2nd November 2011, its headquarters in Paris had been firebombed and its website hacked. The attack in November 2011 was assumed to be in connection with the Nov. 3 2011 issue. This issue had been renamed 'Charia Hebdo', a reference to the Islamic Sharia law and was 'guest-edited' by the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The magazine does not only criticize the Islam, but those are the cartoons wich get by far the most attention.

The attacks on the headquarters of the magazine are vicious. We have freedom of speech and the freedom of expression. No one should have to fear anything, definitely not death or violence because of what he said. It is an important part of a nation of law that the laws are respected. People as those attackers, who don't respect the lives and rights of others and who deliberately put themselves against our system of human rights and laws deserve the strongest punishment the law has to offer them. They will be sentenced to a lifelong prison sentence. We have to fight against every attempt to destroy the law-and-order we built over many centuries that protect our citizens. As Hollande said in a statement just after the attack, we will 'faire bloc', we will stand together. For our rights.

In the moment, the attackers are likely to be Islamists. Some people who witnessed or filmed the attack reported the attackers shouted 'Allahu akbar', Arabic for god is great and 'the prophet has avenged'.

The attack may strike a nerve. Muslim communities all over the world have been in a bad light recently. This is because of the rise of the violent Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq and some militant Islamic attacks in the last time. For example, in October, there was a shooting at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada. One victim died, 3 were injured. France has also suffered from some attacks. In Canada, the general public reacted very positively. There were no anti-islam resentments. However, the situation in Europe is a little bit different. Many far right parties are on the rise and there are anti-islam streamings in European societies, as in Germany with a group called Pegida. For those people, the attacks on 'Charlie Hebdo', if they turn out to be by militant Islamists, will just again reinstate what they believe: The Islam is a violent religion and Muslims bad for Europe.

The Islam is not vicious. We know that. Its believers are as peaceful as the rest of us and they enrich our communities. The attackers are not representative for the rest of the Muslims. Bad things are done by bad people, not by the religion they believe in.

The next weeks will be difficult for the French. An attack is something very emotional. But we cannot let emotion control us. We will have to be prepared better for the next time, but we can't start vilifying the 99.9 % who have nothing to do with the attack. 

And, maybe, we have to ask ourselves why people get so angry that they attack our society. A criminal, if terrorist or robber, is always a victim himself. His anger does not come from nowhere. And only when we understand the criminal, we can prevent further crimes. 


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