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‘Charlie Hebdo’ paid a price for its satire

The world needs to be strong and united against these so called Jehadis and religious extremists. At the same time, we journalists should also understand the difference between freedom of speech and freedom of religious criticisms. Perhaps, from now onwards, journalists might not go to sleep after they published their articles. Satire makes the mind fresh. However, it gets refreshed when somebody jokes on itself. Satire is plain heart to heart banter. Man is the only animal that can joke and convey fine sentiments through the medium of language and art. This incident would undoubtedly provoke hundreds of others to repeat the same.

There is no adventure in provoking any religion; be it Islam, Christianity, Jews or Hinduism. Religion and race are always personal and not meant to be mocked upon. Particularly, the ‘satirical’ magazines must be socially more responsible and consciously avoid overkill. I certainly feel sorry for this Paris shooting, but also realise that such incidents don’t happen without stern reasons. Humour does not generally aim to inspire feelings of hate, and satire is indeed a very high form of humour. In fact, it is a treasured tradition, where many satirised public figures collect cartoons of themselves. If we can laugh at ourselves as well as others, humour can even “advance humanity”. However, there are the limits.

Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical weekly newspaper. It was not an anti-Islamic publication, but as an anti-religion, anti-institutional, anti-extremist publication. Derisive and vociferously non-conformist in tone, the publication is strongly anti-racist and left-wing, publishing articles on the extreme right, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, politics, culture, etc. Actually, being in Media, I never heard much about this magazine. This is a low profile local magazine which gained popularity after publishing those cartoons. The problem is that Islamic terrorists and radicals’ respond to barbaric violence very quickly, while fundamentalists from other religions will protest, sometimes reacting violently. The Islamic radicals take the extreme step and gun down the accused.

As per Wikipedia, Charlie Hebdo was first published from 1969 to 1981; it folded, but was resurrected in 1992. Charb was the most recent editor, holding the post from 2009 until his death in the attack on the magazine’s offices on 7th January, 2015. It experienced two terrorist attacks, in 2011 and in 2015, which were presumed to be in response to a number of controversial ‘Muhammad’ cartoons published by the magazine. In the latter of these attacks, twelve people were killed, including several contributors, and the editor, Charb. In the early hours of 2 November 2011, the newspaper’s office in the 20th arrondissement was fire-bombed and its website was hacked.

Recently, on 7th January 2015, three gunmen opened fire at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, killing twelve, including staff cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous and Wolinski, economist Bernard Maris and two police officers standing guard at the magazine, and wounding eleven, four of them seriously. During the attack, the gunmen were heard to shout Allahu Akbar, “the Prophet is avenged”. We cannot justify this heinous, cruel and coward attack. These beasts are part of a worldwide mafia who think they can conquer the world by intimidation and terror. Their biggest allies are the shameless politicians and politically correct media that choose to vacillate and conduct endless debates but never act. Religious extremism has many faces and reasons. Some are politically motivated whereas some in the name of religioun and faith.

The magazine has ridiculed not only Islam but also Judaism and Christianity. So, why they fired and bombed and its staff killed by satirising only Islam and not Christianity or Judaism? Let us recollect and spread light on important facts. A role France has played in the Middle-East especially in Libya and Syria where-in France promoted killing of Gadhafi for nonstop oil supply. Next in Syria, France was extremely involved in funding the so-called rebels who later on formed the Islamic State. We need to understand that there are consequences if you fund and encourage terrorist ideologies — always it need not be the people in Syria, Iraq, etc who will suffer. And we hear that Kerry has given a clean certificate to Pakistan regarding Terrorism and thereby enabling further funding to Pakistan Army by the US. Unless this hypocrisy of nations like France and US don’t stop, the world will suffer from more violence. Other nations including those from Europe, Asia, etc must form a coalition to discourage and fight Islamist terrorist ideology and terrorists coming from certain nations like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan is also suffering from the same issues.

Extremism has no place in this world and so does hypocrisy. Religious extremism, intolerance and xenophobia are in some way or the other fueled by the hypocrisy, shown by the western countries. Now, they are facing the brunt and agents of free speech – such as the editors of Charlie Hebdo – are needlessly getting caught in the crossfire. Politically left-libertarian, it had gleefully fired barbs at other religions, such as the Catholic Church when it was mired in child sex abuse scandals several years ago. It looks like that this time, the magazine has paid a price for its satire.

My heart goes out to the victims. The voice of people will not succumb to violence and barbarism. These sub-human anti-social cretins need to be brought to justice. However, it is sad that these terrorists are extreme in nature. This also inevitably leads one to think: if a developed nation such as France is helpless to protect its citizens, then what we can say about developing nations such as ours where extremists and terrorists are harder to locate in such a dense populace?

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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