Je ne suis pas Charlie…

stand-together

We live in a world of reactions and responses. In many ways, our opinions define us. Opinions define who we are, and what we believe in. Opinion is a right that is given to us. We have our rights to free speech. Freedom of speech is absolutely necessary to liberal democracy for the preservation of all our other liberties, and because it makes possible debates and exchange of opinions. Words are important. They carry meaning and purpose. They matter. They can build up, or tear down. They represent us, and our ideas. Words should be our only weapons, and they should be used carefully. The right of free speech is not itself absolute. It protects dissenters by giving them the right to speak out, but it doesn’t guarantee them any support. In my opinion, lots of people mix up free speech and hate speech. Having the right to speak, does not say you are immune from the consequences, if you offend people, you must be condemned for it. Yes, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism are not okay. Our world has become intolerant. This is something that people prefer to ignore. There is a rise of racism, even neo-nazism, antisemitism, and especially islamophobia. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that islamophobia is justified; it is pure racism. Islamophobia is a fear or hatred of Muslims or the religion of Islam. It is shaped in the post-9/11 era. Many women are discriminated for wearing the hijab, why is there such a controversy? Why is it more acceptable in France to exclude a part of the society, identify them as “arabs” or “blacks” when they’re as much French as the others, rather than let people wear whatever they want to wear, for whatever reasons they want.

I don’t really know why I’m writing this. I wanted to react, I have things to say. Right now, I don’t know how to feel, how to react. I’m sick of this world. You all know what I am talking about. I don’t think I need to remind you what happened on January 7th. This day will probably be marked forever. Medias and authorities identified the event as a terrorist attack. It is not easy to accept that. I don’t know how to react to that. It feels… strange. I’m not afraid. Well, that is a lie because I am afraid, but I’m not afraid of what you might think. I’m afraid to see history repeat itself. I don’t want France to do what the US did back then. I don’t want people to feel afraid of muslims because the people who killed those journalists were not muslims. They were terrorists. I’m not fond of religion (of any kind). I do accept the fact that there are lots of religious people, and I know what is because my parents are religious. I come from a bicultural family, I have already been discriminated, which was surprising because I look white. Every day, many people are treated differently because of their color, their gender, their origin, their sexual orientation… What is sad is the fact that it became usual. Discrimination is commonplace.

What happened today was terrible. All my compassion goes to the families of the victims. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for them. I don’t want anyone to suffer that much pain. I hope that the injured people will recover. I really feel sorry for them. And that is probably one of the only things I’m sure. I feel sorry for them, not for their satirical newspaper. I am NOT Charlie. I entirely support freedom of the media, and today has been an attack to the press and the French Republic. I condemn these acts of violence. My voice won’t be heard, I’m no one, but I had to say something. I could not remain silent, behind my laptop, reading racist comments. I’m used to racism because it is everywhere, especially right now. Don’t forget that black lives matter. I say “black” and not “all”, because people seem to have a tendency to say otherwise. Don’t forget that white people don’t struggle with the same things that non-white people struggle with.

I’m not going to be hypocrite and say that “I am Charlie”, because, clearly, I’m not. I don’t like what they do, it is often racist, sexist, homophobic, vulgar, and I don’t consider those things as funny. It is just my opinion. I know that Charlie Hebdo is the child of May ’68 and that they don’t consider themselves racist, but I don’t approve what they do, or say. It feeds racism, grows racism and ultimately leads to segregation, and social isolation. They never shut their mouth, and stood beside their values. This is what freedom is. Though, stigmatizing people is not. They say that they are not racist because they attack everyone equally, but I don’t think that attacking everyone equally stops the racism, it does not undo what they do, it is far worse. I don’t sympathize with the terrorists, but I don’t think that accusing an entire religion is the answer. Terrorism isn’t a religion. Islam condemns violence, murder, and terrorism. I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed to see that Muslims have to explain themselves, once again, explain that they are not responsible for what happened today. Everyone should know that it was not in their name. I’m just going to quote you Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic opinion leader: “Any form of attack, suppression or persecution of minorities or innocent civilians is an act that contradicts the principles of the Qur’an and the tradition of our Prophet upon whom be peace and blessings (…) An individual who accepts Islam from the heart will never knowingly take part in terrorism”.

I already know that many people won’t agree what I said, others will say that it is not the moment to say those things, but it is not what I think, and as I said, it is only my opinion, you don’t have follow to it, or even read my thoughts. This is not an essay, there is a clear lack of structure because I’m just writing what comes to my mind without rereading what I wrote. I really think that is important to remind people that muslims did not do it, do not mix up religion with terrorism. Then, I am sorry to say that, but I truly believe that Charlie Hebdo white editors amplifies the stigma against muslims, and it’s getting worse and worse. I’m not saying that they are the only one responsible. I’m not saying that they deserved what happened, and this is clearly not what I want to say because you don’t imagine how bad I feel, and how bad I felt all day. Their satire were racist, and remain so. Racism is not funny. Rape culture is not funny. LGBTQ-phobia is not funny. Sexism is not funny. Victimization is not funny. And, they never have been. This is also why I won’t use the “Je suis Charlie” statement. I really want to honor their deaths, but I won’t do it by using that statement. Rest in peace, may your families be blessed. Your battle will not be forgotten, and I am sure that your courage and strength have inspired so many. Your murderers will be found and punished. They did not have the right to do what they did. It is naïve to write it like that, but killing is the worst crime you can do. It is barbaric. Let’s let the justice do its work. I won’t make any comment on the terrorists because I have already said enough. You know what I think. These two shooters do not represent the muslim population. I just hope that people will understand that. I hope that we won’t have marches against Islam, or a restrictiveness of rights for immigrants because even if it has nothing to do with what happened, it is what some politicians declared today. I’m sorry, but closing the frontiers is not the solution. Now, people are going to gather around the nation, citizenship will become mobilized politically, and because it is a pragmatic issue, politicians won’t do anything because history proved that when there is the presence of a far-right movement, pressures for liberalization of rights are blocked. I’m afraid of what’s next.

It never should have happened. They should not have been killed for their cartoons, despite the fact they were racist. Free speech is a very important part of our society, but it does not mean freedom from criticism. Now, let’s all rally around liberty, equality and brotherhood to give a true meaning to our democracy.

RIP.

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