On Charlie Hebdo, Islamophobia And ISIS


It is still too early to have a complete picture of the attacks at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. At this point, all we can do is to reaffirm again and again that no terrorist attack can be justified, that all of them are illegitimate and that freedom of expression must be always defended.

We can talk about how abhorrent the killings of these journalists are and how violence always brings more violence. I think a large majority of the population will agree on the answers to these questions. Murder is bad, freedom of expression is good. But this is really not the point we are debating.

If we continue to put our focus on the moral debate of, “Is killing people okay?” or “Is freedom of expression legitimate?”, then we are distracting ourselves from other underlying – and currently more relevant – questions behind the attacks.

Islamophobia is on the rise in Europe.
Islamophobia is on the rise in Europe.

We don’t always realise the tendency of politicians and leaders to draw the population into these moral discussions in order to try to keep us from asking other questions and bringing to the table issues that might affect or jeopardize their political agenda. And this is dangerous, because as long as we keep taking part in this game, then nothing will change and no solutions will be provided.

Claiming that the attacks are all about “Muslims vs. freedom of expression” or “They vs. Us” blatantly ignores the sociopolitical context in which these attacks have taken place.

The Charlie Hebdo episode is not just an isolated response to a certain cartoon by the French magazine, but rather seems to be part of a bigger campaign following the Islamic State’s call for French Muslims to seek revenge. This call to violence occurred after France agreed to participate in the airstrikes led by the U.S. against IS.

I insist to put this into context because I am afraid that these attacks will provoke even more intolerance in a country where Muslims have been racialized and demonized.

For decades, Muslims in France, and we could say all of Europe, are not considered believers of a certain creed, but rather a race that appears as a threat to “European White Supremacy”.

Charlie Hebdo on the Islamic State.
Charlie Hebdo‘s recent cover on the Islamic State.

And Charlie Hebdo is an example of this intolerance. For years the magazine has been known for inciting hatred towards immigrants – especially Muslims – in France.

One one occasion, Charlie Hebdo accused one of its journalists of anti-Semitism and fired him. So we should also question if the magazine is a representative of the “Western values” we heatedly defend.

True, many Muslims fall for the narrative of victimization, hatred and violence against whoever criticizes Islam. And that needs to change for the sake of their own future and against the stagnation in which many of these countries live.

But, obviously, terrorists among Muslims are not a majority. Sadly, in our world the bad makes more noise than the good.

This is what these terrorists want: more violence. They want to plant the seed of hatred in the heads of the French. They want to alienate as many Muslims as possible and encourage them to become active terrorists because Islamophobia becomes a “valid” reason for their inhuman attacks.

And governments, instead of fighting the marginalization and demonization of minorities – in the case of France, the Muslim community – encourage this. Politicians – we can see this very clearly among the French right wing – work hard to create an imaginary enemy with a sole, clear feature: he/she is a Muslim. “The Other”.

They play with people’s fears and need for security, reinforcing a national identity to gain and secure their votes. The imperial ideology of “divide and rule” is once more at play. The human rights and physical safety of immigrants in Europe are once more at stake.



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