On the Charlie Hebdo Shootings

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.

2 responses

  1. Hi Ola Eliwat!
    I respect everything you have said in this post regarding the Charlie Hebdo shootings that took place in Paris and how this act of terrorism was produced by a conflict between two types of extremists: people who make it their purpose to ridicule and disrespect other people’s beliefs and practices, and people who stage terrorist attacks against those who ridicule beliefs they are aligned with in some aspect. I was so inspired by your post and everything you have said, especially your last sentence about how “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 other give themselves the right to kill over them, end of story.”
    I am currently taking an Arab Culture course at DePaul University in Chicago and I read your blog post out-loud to my class because your perspective is a refreshing and relevant view in relation to our class discussions.
    I really do agree with your perspective, I said something very similar to my friends when first learning of the Charlie Hebdo shootings. Have you read about over 2000 Muslims forming a ring of peace around a Jewish synagogue in Oslo? I have posted the link here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/muslims-to-form-peace-ring-around-oslo-synagogue-following-copenhagen-attacks-10061249.html
    This is exactly the type of counter-terrorism act more people need to engage in if we are going to progress beyond allowing differences in race and religion to divide us as a people. Could you possibly write a blog post about this “ring of peace,” I would love to hear what you have to say about it!

    • Thank you Rabia for your refreshing feedback. And thanks for telling me about the ring in Oslo, these are the examples we should circulate and show to the world. I will try to write something about it for sure

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