vendredi 9 janvier 2015

Am I Charlie ?

I am sad about the recent terrosit attack that ended the life of 12 people and injured 7. I think about their family and I shiver at their sorrow just as I shiver everytime I hear, read or see videos of murder taking place all over the world. 

My heart is heavy and I mourn with the family of the victims just as I do everytime Boko Haram attacks people in schools, villages, police stations, army barracks etc. When will it all stop? Should I cut off from television, radio, Internet and pretend that there is peace in the world? See no evil, hear no evil? Do I continue to watch and be more depressed that peace is far from the world? How do I detach myself from all these, be numb, feel no pain, no hurt, no bleeding in my heart, no silent mournings, and just act like "It's life, shit happens!"?

Three hooded gunmen, armed with Kalashnikovs and a rocket launcher stormed French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo wednesday morning. The attack took place around 10:40am at the magazine's headquarters in Paris, during their wednesday editorial meeting when all its journalists and cartoonists are present. 

They opened fire on the workers. Stephane Charbonnier known as Charb, who had a price put on his head by al-Qaeda in 2013, was shot dead, along with his police gaurd. Cartoonists Jean Cabut (aka Cabu) and Georges Wolinski (aka Wolinski) were also said to have been shot at during 5 minutes. Bernard Verlhac known (aka  Tignous) another cartoonist did not escape the horror alongside 6 others. They killed a total of 12 people, 10 journalists and two police guards. Witnesses said they shouted : “We have killed Charlie Hebdo! We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed!” before they fled the scene. The criminals are still on the run.
Charb, Cabu, Wolinski et Tignous (left to right). (SIPA)
Charlie Hebdo's website went offline after the attack, and showed the image of "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie), referring to a hashtag that is trending on Twitter in solidarity with the victims.

Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical weekly which publishes cartoons, jokes and news reports. Hebdo is short for hebdomadaire which means “weekly” in French. Their headquarters is based in the 11th arrondissement in Paris, France. It is published every Wednesday with a circulation of about 45,000 copies.

The French magazine is known for its extreme provocations : poking fun at the extreme right, mocking religious faiths of all kinds and their founders, satirising public figures such as politicians, bankers, judges, celebrities etc.. Find some of their front pages below :
Caricature of French President, François Hollande with sperm licking from his penis

Caricature representing the French extreme right-wing party

Caricature of black French Minister of Justice, Christine Taubira

Caricature of Pope Francis with French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, under his robe
Charlie Hebdo's last tweet was a cartoon mocking the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, with the caption "Meilleurs vœux, au fait" in English 'Best wishes, by the way'. Nothing provocating about it,.. Except Charlie Hebdo, Muslims and Muslim intergrists share a long history dating as far back as 2006.
Caricature of the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

For the past 8 years, Charlie Hebdo has attacked without cease different religions, and their leaders. The French embassies, consulates, schools, cultural centers and Alliances in muslims countries have had to close several times because the French controversial magazine would not stop taking a poke at the prophet of the muslims by making Mohammed cartoons.
“The aim is to laugh. We want to laugh at the extremists, every extremist. They can be Muslim, Jewish, Catholic. Everyone can be religious, but extremist thoughts and acts we cannot accept.” - ” Laurent Léger Charlie Hebdo's journalist. 
Charlie Hebdo started out as Hara-Kiri, but was banned for “offending public taste” after it published a front page appearing to mock the death of French President Charles de Gaulle.

In 1969, Charlie Hebdo in reference to Charlie Brown comics, was established. The staff of Hara-Kiri then migrated to the new publication which was edited by Francois Cavanna. 

In 1981, the magazine folded due to a lack of funds because it didn't make sales. It was resurrected in 1992 with Philippe Val as editor until 2009 when Stephanie Carbonnier then took over the editorship.

In 2005, a Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a page of 12 cartoons, drawn by various artists, caricaturing the Prophet Mohammed. Many Muslims all over the world angrily objected, accusing the paper of blasphemy.

In 2006, Charlie Hebdo ran a front page with the headline: “Mohammed overwhelmed by the fundamentalists”, and republished the controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammed by the Danish newspaper with the addition of their own work by Cabu thereby prompting fresh protests which led to violent protests.
Caricature of Prophet Mohammed 
They made a big buzz and also big success in sales therefore did not care for the lives of thousands of French people who live in countries where their lives are at risk because of their “liberté d’expression”. 

Although the magazine received several death threats that even the editor was living under police protection, it didn't scare them to silence but instead watered their bravery. "Stand for something or you fall for every thing" they say... I guess this is why the editor didn't budge to threats by Intergrists as he called them. 

He once said that there were more chances for him to be killed by a car than by extremist because in France, there were none. He believed he was safe in France.

The magazine was not also bothered about the violence that their caricatures started in other countries  such as Nigeria, as long as it was not happening in France.

According to BBC News :
Sixteen people have been killed in northern Nigeria during protests by Muslims over the cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad. Most of the deaths occurred in rioting in Maiduguri, capital of north-eastern Borno state. One person died in similar riots in north-central Katsina state. Witnesses said most of the dead were from Maiduguri's minority Christians. The Danish cartoonist (Kurt Westergaar) whose cartoons sparked off the worldwide riots told a Scottish newspaper he had "no regrets". The riots in Nigeria are the first violent protests in the country over the cartoons. Eleven churches were torched during the protests and Christian businesses targeted. 
According to IRIN Africa :
At least 123 people were been killed in four days of sectarian violence across Nigeria, after protests over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad fuelled underlying religious and ethnic tensions. 
Two-thirds of the deaths occurred in the mainly Christian southeast city of Onitsha, where groups of armed youths took to the streets to seek revenge against Muslims in reprisal for deadly attacks on Christians last weekend in the predominantly Muslim north.
Although five Muslim organisations to ban the magazine from prinitng the pictures but a French court threw out the case while Charlie Hebdo went ahead with its publication.

One would wonder why the magazine who was banned for mocking the death of  Charles de Gaulle when it was still "Hara-Kiri", should be allowed to mock the religious leader of French muslims and muslims all over the world, thereby putting every non-muslim French citizens living in Muslim countries at risk.

Charlie Hebdo gained as much notoriety as the Danish newspaper, finally making a name for itself and finding wider circulation.

The French President at that time was Jacques Chirac, unable to do anything about the publication according to the law, released a statement saying :
“Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided. Freedom of expression should be exercised in a spirit of responsibility.”
The French officials announced they would temporarily close French embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools in more than a dozen Muslim countries for safety. Despite several condemnation, the magazine continued to make Muslim extremism a frequent target because Christian and Jewish leaders who were also subject to mockery prefered to ignore them or better still were more tolerant. In one of its edition, Charlie Hebdo featured a cartoon of the Virgin Mary, spread-eagled, giving birth to Jesus.
Caricature of Mary the mother of Jesus & baby Jesus

Caricature of the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit

Caricature of Jesus nailed to the cross, and a teacher kicking him out of the school

Caricature of Jesus, a Muslim & a Jewish leader
In November 2011, Charlie Hebdo ran a special edition where it was temporarily renamed "Charia Hebdo". "Charia" means "Sharia" in English. They also announced the Prophet Mohammed as its “editor-in-chief”. The cover featured an absurd caricature of the prophet, and the caption "100 lashes if you don't die laughing".
Caricature of Prophet Mohammed 
The very week that it was released, the Paris two-storey offices of the magazine were firebombed during the early morning hours.
The editor Charb in front of the firebombed Charlie Hebdo offices
The building was completely destroyed but no one was injured. The magazine’s website was also hacked and replaced with an image of Mecca, and the words: “There is no god but Allah”. And was staff subjected to death threats.

A week later Charlie Hebdo’s front cover showed a cartoonist and a bearded man stood in front of the bombed-out offices, kissing, with the words “Love is stronger than hate”.
Caricature of Prophet Mohammed kissing Charlie Hebdo
The magazine published more images of the Prophet Mohammed, playing off the demonstrations surrounding a US-produced anti-Islamic film released at the time called ‘Innocence of Muslims’, which portrayed the Prophet as a fraud, a womaniser and a child molester.

Less than a year later, Charlie Hebdo ran a cover featuring the Prophet Mohammed in a wheelchair, being pushed by an Orthodox Jew, with both of them saying "You must not mock us."
Another cartoon on the back page, the Prophet was carricatured naked. 

The French Government once again had to shut down embassies and schools in preparation for any retaliation over the cartoons.

Despite many Muslims regarding the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed as blasphemous, Charlie Hebdo responded by publishing a letter, signed by 12 writers and intellectuals including Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, which read, in part, “We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.”

The following year, Charlie Hebdo was sued by two French Muslim associations, the Great Mosque of Paris and the Union of Islamic Organisations of France, for reprinting the Danish cartoons. A French court rejected the case, saying the publication’s decision to publish the images did not incite religious hatred.

After  receiving death threats two years ago :
"I am not afraid of retaliation. I have no children, no wife, no car, no credit. It perhaps sounds a bit pompous, but I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.’ 
"It should be as normal to criticise Islam as it is to criticise Jews or Catholics." 
In 2012, Charb said to Le Monde :
"I don’t feel as though I’m killing someone with a pen. I’m not putting lives at risk. When activists need a pretext to justify their violence, they always find it."
Despite numerous threats and condemnations from French political leaders as well as Muslim clerics, the rebellious and anti-religious magazine continued to stand by its belief that nothing should be off limits, and that their "provocations" were actually nothing of the sort.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius asked  at the time :
“Is it pertinent, intelligent in this context to pour oil on the fire? The answer is no.”
Charb relentlessly defend his right to free speech and scoffed at threats to silence him, saying that since he had no family, he feared no reprisals. 

He told ABC News, 
"I prefer to die than live like a rat." 
He actually said it gets on his nerves that the magazine is accused of fueling future violence without caring about whose nerves he gets on. He continued to insiste that art should not be constrained.

"The accusation that we are pouring oil on the flames in the current situation really gets on my nerves. After the publication of this absurd and grotesque film about Mohammed in the U.S., other newspapers have responded to the protests with cover stories. We are doing the same thing, but with drawings. And a drawing has never killed anyone ..."

"We publish caricatures every week, but people only describe them as declarations of war when it's about the person of the prophet or radical Islam. When you start saying that you can't create such drawings, then the same thing will soon apply to other, more harmless representations".

In January 2013, Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon book, The Life of Muhammad, sparking another fierce debate over the freedom of expression in France. Its cover pictured a the prophet Mohaammed leading a sweating camel through the desert. Charb said the biography the prophet was authorised by Islam since it was edited by Muslims. That same year, he was placed on a list of "al-Qaeda's Most Wanted", along with the original editors at Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Charb's final cartoon, published in the last issue released the same day he was killed read : "No attacks in France yet; No attacks in France yet; wait! There's until end of January to wish Happy New Year."
Caricature of Prophet Mohammed 
Below are some of their offensive cartoons :
Caricature of Prophet Mohammed 

Caricature of Prophet Mohammed 

Caricature of Prophet Mohammed 

Caricatures of Jewish, Christain & Muslim leaders

Caricature of Pope Francis

Caricature of a Reverend Father licking the butt of a woman from the feminist movement, FEMEN

Caricature of a Reverend Mother

Caricature of Jihadists

Caricature of FEMEN, a feminist movement

Caricature of a Muslim leader & 3 Muslim women wearing the hijab

Caricatures of Jewish, Christain & Muslim leaders

Caricature of Prophet Mohammed & a terrorist

Caricature of Prophet Mohammed

Caricatures of French Newspapers such as L'Obs, Closer, Voici, Public, Entrevue, etc..

Caricature of black French comedian, Dieudonné M'bala M'bala

Caricature of black French comedian, Dieudonné M'bala M'bala

Caricature of  Jean Le Pen, an extreme right-wing politician

Caricature of French singer, Jonny Hallyday

Caricature of Micheal Jackson

Caricature of Pope Francis

Caricature of Marie Le Pen, an extreme right-wing politician
Now, I ask myself, am I Charlie ? Should I be Charlie because that's what is trending now? Should  I be Charlie if I stand for liberty of expression ? Hosea 8:7 says, he who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind. In French, "qui sème le vent récolte la tempête".

The French are known as fighters for liberty and founders of democracy. Me, I grew up learning that the tongue is a very dangerous member of the body and that my mouth can get me into huge problem. I was told it is wrong to hurt people with my words because words are like eggs when broken, you can put it together again. I was born in a country where the liberty of expression is a very dangerous weapon that one should use wisely. If you want to use it, have dual citizenship. I went to churches were I was told God is not pleased when I hurt others verbally or physically. I learnt that that when people hurt me, I should not retaliate but take the matter to God for He is the God of vengeance. I learnt so many things and it is for this reason that you might think I am coward if I refuse a job offer for a troublemaker magazine like Charlie Hebdo.

8 years ago, Charlie Hebdo started a kind of war with crazy intergrists in the name of liberty of expression. Hitting harder every time this extremists protests. This invisible war was a sort of game to them. The French people always knew that it would end badly, one day, some day. The writers knew it also.

The cartoonist are martyrs of freedom. They are heros in their own way. They didn't give up, they died standing and not on their knees as they always wanted. Jihadists killing people as sucide bombers, also think they are martyrs, they believe that they would go to heaven and have several virgins as wives. Hostages have their heads cut off while they are on their knees, it doesn't make them any less heros. Everyone has believes. I believe that love conquers all. I choose to love. It's difficult but I have made a decision not to allow hate anywhere near my heart.

I pray these crazy people are arrested quickly before they attack more people. I hate to think they will get life imprisonnement which in France means 30 years at worse. They often get out long before.

But will France call for editorial restraint after the whole protests and marches are over so tha such horror does not repeat itself ? We know that the Kouachi brothers are not the only extremists living in France. Charlie Hebdo's website is asking all "Je suis Charlie" to buy the next edition... I was shocked not to see photos of the victims rather they are asking for people to buy the next edition. Are they profiting from this? The pictures of the the editor and cartoonist are all over the media, Out of the 12 people that died, there is one guy who isn't famous and who no one is talking about. May his soul rest in peace.

When I remember the way they shot a police officer who was injured and lying on the road outside in the head I cring. The policeman saw two of the gunmen jogging towards him, he held up his right hand and said "Ah, c'est bon chef" but they did not have mercy on him. He received a bullet in the head at close range. How heartless !!!
© Screen grab

I am Charlie not because I support provocations but because I am against self justice and barbaric acts. I support freedom of expression but I am against provocations. I am against extremists, whether provative extremists or religious extremists. I am against abuse, be it verbal or physical. I am against violence in all it forms. I believe that love conquers all. I stand for LOVE always.

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