Are we all Charlie?


Illustration by Lucille Clerc


I walked home feeling numb. As I stepped out of the bitter cold into the familiar warmth, I thought of those who wouldn’t go home last night.  As a ”radical pacifist”, an advocate of freedom, democracy and equality, the cold-blooded attack of the Charlie Hebdo magazine was a blow, not only to my most fundamental beliefs and principles, but – and most significantly of all – to everything a democratic society stands for.

So, reading today an article by radical Muslim cleric and lecturer in sharia, Anjem Choudary, in which he is questioning ‘why did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims, thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk?” came as an earthquake aftershock: equally frightening but totally expected.

Charlie Hebdo was ”allowed” to provoke because that is what they are there to do: commenting on society’s shortcomings using satire, giant doses of humour and absurd cartoons. That much is clear.

The question should therefore be, whether the followers of the esteemed Muslim preacher should be ”allowed” to shoot point-blank in the name of sanctity. Is Islam nothing but a belief system perpetually stuck in pre-adolescent, oversimplifying and absolutist rage – in a seemingly permanent state of immaturity?

Where does one’s liberty become another’s oppression?

Could there – will there – ever be a meeting point?

I don’t want to change the world here and, indeed, I wouldn’t know how. But if  adding my voice against society’s absurd, hypocritical ways would help sketch it a little bit better, then I raise my voice for Charlie.

And so should we all!






23 thoughts on “Are we all Charlie?

    • Among countless articles and posts I read over the last few days, I came across this one – the summary says it all: [We strive to find words strong enough to convey our outrage at the obscene atrocity committed in Paris last Wednesday morning. But it is easy to overlook the most apt word: stupid. Incredibly, imponderably, staggeringly, bowel-shatteringly dumb. ‘Clear flaws in intelligence’ indeed.]
      From the blog of Stephen Fry:

  1. These incidents have only made that newspaper, which was on the verge of bankruptcy, famous on a worldwide level. As a person who chose to become a French citizen, I’m surprised and now filled with hope after seeing the images of so many people in the streets. Together and peaceful. I just hope everyone keeps a clear focus.

    • So sad, the death of its core staff ensured the life of the paper. I’m reading that the next issue will come out in 1 mio copies compared to the usual 60K – and we can probably expect more Muhammad cartoons. It was really moving to see so many come together in Paris and elsewhere; I just wish the march had not been hijacked by politicians for the sake of appearance – especially by those representing countries where freedom of speech is a punishable offence…

      So you are French by choice? I had no idea you had France so close to your heart. My hat off to you Madame!

      • The politicians made me ill, too. Hyenas.

        Merci. 🙂 My husband is French and we have a small place in Angers. I feel very much at home there, when we visit. More at home than I ever felt in America. Vive La France.

  2. Hi Lia,

    Well said. Well “felt” on this end. Did you create the pencil image? Now I understand the Twin Pencil cartoon. The other cartoon is brilliant too.

    Love from Pennsylvania – Jo

    • It is saddening and maddening to live through such violence in the name of religion. For better or worse, we live in pluralistic, multi ethnic and multi cultural societies. Offences, disagreements or clashes are inevitable and even to be expected. We all need to be able to take criticism and argue our case back, without fear for our LIVES. This attack has been a worse offence to Islam than any cartoon could ever have been, it seems to me…

  3. It’s really sad what happened! 😦 I have noticed a huge increase of police all around Vienna after this incident, especially in the underground stations, there are big patrols all the time and i heard that there is a code red for a possible attack. Also in London and some other big cities…I hope nothing more will happen…No religion should be responsible for the death of innocent people!

  4. Very good. I was attracted by the title, because every time I read “I am Charlie” in a social media wall I ask myself, whether I am Charlie too. And the answer is “no”. Unfortunately I am not that courageous. If anybody attacked me for what I draw, I would stop drawing it. That is the sad true in my case. And that is also why I respect and admire so much the people who are afraid too, for sure, but keep on doing what they mean. Even if that is “just” drawing. So, I am not Charlie in that way. But we all are Charlie in the way that the society we (or some among us) constructed was attacked yesterday, once again.

    • Precisely, I totally agree. And that’s exactly the point: a cartoonist, or any artist for that matter, should never be a hero or a martyr in doing what they do. They should be free to express themselves and their ideas without fear for their lives – right? That’s what we take for granted here in our democratic societies. It was this principle, the very core of freedom of expression that was attacked in Paris – but what frustrates me most is the blatant attempt by the Islamic hierarchy to make it seem like it’s the fault of the victims; like those careless French, they stepped into the bullets and got hurt – how careless of them!

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