By Léo Azambuja
On Jan. 7, two heavily armed cowards entered the office of the satirical weekly Parisian newspaper Charlie Hebdo and executed a dozen people, including several editorial staff members.
The motives are clear; Charlie Hebdo had been publishing satirical content portraying prophet Mohammed since 2006 and editor in chief Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier had been on Al Qaeda’s most-wanted list since 2013.
Though the Quran does not explicitly ban images of Mohammed — it condemns idolatry — Islamic authorities have long discouraged images of God, Mohammed and his family members, and other prophets.
But it’s not like Charlie Hebdo is in a war against Islam. It is actually a secularist, anti-religious newspaper that has mocked extreme Islamism, as well as Catholicism and Judaism. It has also mocked Israel, far-right politics and anything else they felt like. That’s what satirical newspapers do, they mock.
After all, separation of church and state is unambiguously protected by a 1905 French law, therefore granting freedom of speech to those who want to mock religion, any religion, as long as it is not defamation.
Soon after the attack, the slogan “Je suis Charlie” — which means “I am Charlie” — spread all over the world as a sign of solidarity to the French. Not too long after that, “Je ne suis pas Charlie” — or “I am not Charlie” — had its turn.
The “Je ne suis pas Charlie” crowd argued Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons were disrespectful and insensitive to Islam, and the French weekly shouldn’t be publishing them.
I say they weren’t disrespectful, and I say they should be published.
The cartoons mocked terrorists. They mocked leaders of terrorist organizations using organized religion to instill fear, hatred and violence to promote themselves.
Muslims are not violent. It’s those in control of certain Islamic states and terrorist organizations who are violent.
Centuries ago, Catholicism was a tool used by European empires to instill fear and use violence on their own people and kill and pillage North, Central and South American indigenous people. Christians were peaceful, but their greedy, self-serving leaders were not.
Saying Charlie Hebdo should not be making fun of coward terrorists is the same as bowing down to tyranny. Their staff members were heroes who refused to see a world controlled by greed and violence.
Seconds before being gunned down, Charb apparently declined to obey a command to go on his knees, and was quoted as repeating a famous phrase originally attributed to early 20th century Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata:
“I would rather die on my feet that live on my knees.”
Even if you found Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons distasteful, I bet you would not want to become a servant to coward terrorists, in principle or in practice. And Charlie Hebdo’s irreverent style was a weapon just against that; coward terrorists.
Je suis Charlie!