Like the rest of the world I am shocked and saddened by the terror attack in Paris yesterday, on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. It is hard to believe that this is what some Muslims think their religion is about – killing others, even if they don’t share your beliefs, even if they mock your God. Just as I am shamed by the fact that Westboro Baptist Church peddle the message of hate for homosexuals in the name of the Christian God, I am sure many Muslims are ashamed that extremists are carrying out terror attacks in the name of Allah.
In France, and throughout the world, there has been a twitterstorm and FB of people tweeting, posting, holding banners saying “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) One of my students had it as his background on his phone. It is a sign of solidarity with those who were killed or injured in this attack.
But I’m not sure about identifying myself with an organisation who considered it acceptable to depict a black politician as a monkey…While I certainly believe we should uphold the right to freedom of speech, without fear of being indiscriminately slaughtered, I do wonder where freedom of speech ends and racism begins. Is it ok to depict someone as a monkey and cry “But it’s freedom of speech!” Is it ok to state that “God hates fags” and then play the freedom of speech card.
I don’t know. I haven’t got any answer. But – while I do weep with those who lost loved ones, while I do decry the slaughter of journalists, while I cannot defend the actions of these murderers – I’m not sure I want to say that I am Charlie…because I don’t think that it is right to mock other people’s beliefs, nor depict black people as monkeys.