The one thing any historical conflict will teach you is that violence escalates. Unfortunately, we are witness to this on a daily basis, from extremists in the Middle East becoming more brazen to the recent child suicide bombers in Nigeria that killed 48 other school children. The Charlie Hebdo attacks were an appalling tragedy and attack, but can we really consider them unprovoked? If the publishers took a more diffusing stance would it be a win for the terrorist or simply the preservation of human lives?
Lives for freedom of speech
Freedom is an expensively gained commodity. The currency of struggles for independence, the abolishment of oppression and the liberty of expression is unfortunately human lives. This conflict though is more than just that. As an artist myself I would never condone the censorship of art or any type of expression by any government. These factions of extremists are not governments though and are not motivated by the preservation of power and authority, which is usually why censorship is used by governments. They are motivated by blind fanaticism, indoctrination and brainwashing.
Image source: latimes
This was not the first instance of violence against the publication
Charlie Hebdo was firebombed in 2011 after it announced that its editor-in-chief would be the Prophet Muhammad for the next issue. The attack took place during the early morning hours and no one was injured. In 2012 the publication again featured a controversial depiction of the religious figure that forced the French Government to close consulates, embassies, schools and cultural centers in many Muslim countries for safety.
As with any liberty it comes with responsibility and accountability
Humanity has been struggling for centuries to achieve religious, ethnic and racial tolerance. Even so we are still standing on unstable arid ground strife with fissures and faults. In 1981, when Charlie Hebdo republished a Danish publication’s cartoon depicting the Prophet, it created a backlash within the global Muslim community. Then President Jacques Chirac said:
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.” Source: time
A year later two French Muslim associations sued Charlie Hebdo for republishing the image but a French court threw out the case claiming it didn’t provoke religious hatred.
Is Charlie Hebdo an inflammatory publication, being provocative for the sake of being provocative?
In a recent issue of the weekly publication the Virgin Mary is depicted spread eagled giving birth to Jesus (even though the publisher claims they only satirize religion when there is a political undertone). It has featured highly vulgarized religious, anti-Semitic and racist imagery. This inflammatory imagery does offend and in many cases its only context is to offend or push the envelope.
The provocation and attack of Charlie Hebdo has become aligned with much more complex historical and global issues
The current conflict between Middle Eastern extremists and the West is seemingly about terrorism and the abolishment of totalitarian regimes that have been dominant in the area. Even so this is just a single fold of the complex blood soaked origami of the conflict between the West and Muslim extremists. Some argue that the history runs as far back as the crusades. Even in recent history with the conclusion of WWI, Britain and France were victorious through the assistance of the Arabic uprising against the Turkish Empire. In betrayal of that assistance France and Britain, in a secret agreement, designated the Middle East into areas of French or British influence. Furthermore they established the Jewish State that has been a point of bloody contention and since its inception. In modern history we have seen intervention upon intervention of the Western Powers in the region of the Middle East with the West claiming it as an attempt to democratize, and many people in the Middle East considering it a full-out invasion.
Charlie Hebdo has become almost a poster-child for how far extremists will go to preserve and proliferate the ideological and religious belief system. Extremisms can come in many forms, but violence is often the result of it.
What is your perspective on the matter? I would like to hear about your opinions and perspectives on the matter, even if they don’t align with my own. Isn’t that freedom of expression?