I guess by now everyone has heard of the Charlie Hebdo shootings that took place in Paris last week. To avoid any confusion let me start by making a clear point: I do not condone the attack in anyway and there is no reason in my mind to justify it. It was an act of terrorism, and a stupid one for that matter.
Having established that let me move on to what I found mind boggling about this whole thing. People have been dealing with the issue as a matter of terrorism against freedom of speech, but I really couldn’t see it that way. This was a conflict of extremes. A clash between 2 kind of extremists: On the one obvious side of course we have the killers, those who planned and carried out the armed attack on the newspaper. However, on the other side we have another kind of extremists, those who took it upon themselves to ridicule the beliefs and culture of a large part of the French population, let alone the world, and hence alienate and humiliate them by insulting what they choose to believe in. And in between these two extremes we have hundreds of thousands of French people, Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists, people of all faiths and ideologies who don’t make it their life quest to insult and ridicule other people’s beliefs or stage terrorist attacks on them.
You cannot ask for a peaceful world if you are not willing to respect other people and their right to believe in whatever they believe in. Again, I’m against terrorism and violence, but I’m also against disrespect and alienation. You know what I’m also against? Double standards. When a person like Netanyahu who killed 17 journalists in Gaza last year goes to Paris to participate in a march for freedom of speech then you know it’s an utter farce. When this same newspaper pretending to defend freedom of speech has fired a cartoonist in 2009 over “anti-Semitic” cartoons then you see that this is a march for elective freedom, one that agrees with the current world order and which the powers that be approve of.
But was it really a shock for this to happen in a country like France? Think about it. A country that keeps bragging about being the land of freedom and equality while continuing to issue discriminatory laws and regulations limiting the freedoms of certain groups of its population, giving way for more resentment and feelings of injustice to build among these groups and giving other groups more reason to be racists and hateful on the micro level, creating a fertile soil for hate and sectarian grudges to thrive in all directions.
Hate breeds hate, and violence breeds even more violence, and people everywhere continue to pay the ultimate price because other people won’t let go of their prejudices, and others give themselves the right to kill over them, end of story.