Rabat - French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo’s latest controversial editorial places blame for the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks on the complicity of unaffiliated Muslims.
Rabat – French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo’s latest controversial editorial places blame for the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks on the complicity of unaffiliated Muslims.
Just over a week after attacks in Brussels killed 35, the newspaper is making attempts to answer how we ended up in the situation we find ourselves in today. The newspaper, which was targeted by terrorist attacks last year, claims “The attacks are merely the visible part of a very large iceberg. They are the last phase of a process of cowing and silencing, long in motion and on the widest possible scale”.
The newspaper’s latest editorial, “How Did We End Up Here?”, has been regarded by many as an extreme categorization of an entire community; being compared to Trump’s rhetoric and Nazi logic. The editorial initially suggested potential reasons for the attacks, such as widespread Islamism, unemployment and police ineptness. All of that before introducing fictional characters, such as a woman wearing a hijab and a local baker, to illustrate that there is no such thing as an innocent muslim.
“Terrorism was fomented”, the editorial claims. It also suggests innocent people died due to the public’s fear of being treated as an Islamophobe or racist, in addition to the innocent actions of a bearded man in a deli and religious scholar, Tariq Ramadan. The terrorists’ role “is simply to provide the end of a philosophical line already begun”, it added; suggesting that every unaffiliated Muslim contributes to the rest of the “iceberg” and to extremist terrorist actions. In essence, that every living, breathing, practicing Muslim is contributing to terrorism in their own way.
Charlie Hebdo concluded: “From the bakery that forbids you to eat what you like, to the woman who forbids you to admit that you are troubled by her veil, we are submerged in guilt for permitting ourselves such thoughts. And that is where and when fear has started its sapping, undermining work. And the way is marked for all that will follow.” The editorial is consistent in making similar comments throughout, suggesting the issue is not that the public isn’t Islamophobic but that they are not Islamophobic enough.
So how did we end up here, in a place where a newspaper awarded for “courageous freedom of expression” at PEN American Center’s literary gala, asks the right questions but doesn’t have the appropriate answers? The anger is understandable, after the death of colleagues and friends, but to stimulate such bigotry and prejudice is considered unacceptable by many. “What catharsis does this give you?”, is just one example of recent Twitter reactions to the editorial.
Nigerian-American writer, Teju Cole, was also quick to give an extensive response to the editorial. His reasoned criticism of the editorial included “The people of Charlie finally step away from the mask of ‘it’s satire and you don’t get it’ to state clearly that Muslims, all of them, no matter how integrated, are the enemy.” Charlie seems to want to defend “the wish to discriminate freely against Muslims without having to be called out on it”, and somehow portends to characterize the whole exercise as brave and truth-speaking. “This is precisely the logic also of the masses who praise Trump for his ‘honesty’—as though only ugliness could be honest, as though moral incontinence were any more noble than physical incontinence,” Cole states.
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