Why Charlie Hebdo Is Unlike Anything Else We’ve Ever Seen


A few days ago, the world was rocked by news of an attack on the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a “satirical” magazine that uses its pages to mock and ridicule everything and anything worth ridiculing, with a special emphasis on Islam and Muslims across the world.

But that’s besides the point here. Almost every piece of writing I’ve seen since that day has been about whether Charlie Hebdo is satirical or bigoted. Whether they were somehow responsible for what happened or not. Whether this had to do with freedom of speech or it was retaliation for massive scale bullying of an entire belief system, that of Islam.

I don’t care for the particulars of the incident or the reasons behind it. I don’t even care that this whole thing stinks to high heaven, given the fact that France had publicly announced its endorsement of the establishment of a Palestinian state. Hell, I don’t even care about the convenient end of the whole situation with the death of the alleged perpetrators. What I really care about, though, is the aftermath more than anything – and this is where things get really interesting.

Boko Haram in Nigeria
Boko Haram in Nigeria

To backtrack, that very same day, news outlets started posting and publishing in the smallest of fonts about an “alleged” massacre in which Boko Haram murdered 2,000 people in Nigeria. What’s even more striking is that as the days went by, the font remained the same size and the font used in covering the Paris incident kept getting larger and larger and larger.

Which brings me to a rather disturbing discrepancy. Are 12 people in Europe more newsworthy than 2,000 people in Nigeria? Here’s an even more interesting question: Are 12 people who work for an establishment that depicts offensive cartoons in a very clear-cut methodical manner in Europe more newsworthy than 2,000 whose only crime was to be alive in Nigeria?

We know that humanity went to shit a long time ago. That’s a given, especially after the events of 2014 and the worldwide reactions to them, it is fair to say that the world has collectively suffered a stroke that has left its morality in bits.

Drone attacks that kill innocent children with not a shred of public outcry, meanwhile back in some “civilized” part of the world, Malala – our media-polished, trained darling – wins a Nobel Prize for being a girl who wanted an education and got shot for it.

Then we had the Gaza fiasco, where hundreds of children were being dug out from under the rubble, shot by the Israeli IDF with High Explosive Incendiary/Armor Piercing Ammunition (HEIAP) and all Obama and the rest of the world could do about it was be “appalled” and “very concerned” at the unfolding situation.

But it seems that we’ve reached a point where the insanity is becoming increasingly limitless. Where editors deem 12 dead people who work for a hate mongering establishment as a massacre and deem another 2,000 who were murdered in cold blood as inconsequential.

When the Islamic world itself uses the #jesuischarlie hashtag to show solidarity with the victims of this abhorrent attack and doesn’t even bother mentioning 2,000 people of its own belief system in a few words.

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.15.00 PMOr even better, when a Muslim shop worker risks his life to save hostages at the Kosher market where the alleged perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo murders made their last stand, and almost everybody fails to mention it.

All that aside, there is something of potential good starting to fight its way through the cracks. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, the rage and public outcry was the exact same as with every incident perpetuated on U.S. and European soil before it. Yet, this time, something changed a couple of days later.

Voices of reason began to emerge calling for equitable blame. Voices in major news establishments are saying enough of the one-sided offensive on Muslims and let’s take a step back and bring context to the situation before making even more rash, idiotic and shortsighted catastrophic decisions and let’s look at the reasons behind the incident.

cnncharlieReasons such as the unbridled hate Charlie Hebdo dishes out under the guise of “free speech”. The double standards that it applies, the most striking of which was the firing of one of its employees in 2009 for being anti Semitic. The amount of rage, or lack thereof, that the media shows according to topic, be it women’s rights (high), immigration to France (medium) or hate speech against Muslims (low).

Maybe under the overbearing insanity we live in today, there is a shred of sanity coming into the light. It’s still premature to tell, but the reactions I’m seeing after Charlie Hebdo and the Sydney hostage situation a few weeks ago – the #IllRideWithYou Twitter campaign that trended after an Australian man saw a veiled woman trying to cautiously remove her veil on a bus after she had heard the news of the situation and approached her and told her not to take it off – some of the preconceived notions that are being solidified by the media are being revised.

I’m not deluded or anything to think that this revision of sorts is going to bring about any change anytime soon. But I’m seeing something here that’s never happened before.

charliehebdoCompare today to post 9/11 persecution and the ensuing frenzy and there is no doubt in my mind there is a change. Slowly but surely, it’s coming to light that incidents such as Charlie Hebdo or Sydney cannot be treated like isolated incidents anymore, and more and more voices are now giving these incidents what really matters the most, and that is context.

Something we have been lacking for years and years now and a key ingredient in clearing up a very hazy big picture that is deliberately being blurred to serve the interests of a few.

I’m not big on hope, but nonetheless, here’s to hope!



WE SAID THIS: Don’t miss Charlie Hebdo: Apology Vs. Agency.