Words: Lewis Waller
The explosion of unity the world has seen on this tragic Parisian day should be seen as a victory in the fight against totalitarianism, in defense of prevailing freedom.
You may be tempted to believe that the actions of the gunmen will strike fear into the hearts of anyone thinking of publicly denouncing or mocking groups linked to extremism. But after a firebombing in 2011 the brave journalists at Charlie Hebdo knew they were at risk, and they carried on anyway; as many journalists do every day.
Ironically, the alleged gunmen will have inadvertently furthered the cause of the ridicule of fundamentalism.
The proliferation of satirical cartoons and condemning prose in the single day that the events occurred is a testament to the will and liberalism of the world.
The outpouring of disgust and unification of France, the Islamic community and the rest of the world will do nothing but strengthen the bonds of free speech and liberty. Such a show of strength is an homage to the irrepressible fallen.
When the European Editor of the Financial Times, Tony Barber, accused Charlie Hebdo of Muslim baiting he had a point; if we’re talking about a dictatorial bear that wants to make you eat baby seals and live in the arctic.
We’re not talking about the large majority of bears – everyone knows that – but sometimes a rogue bear needs baiting. And let’s be clear that it’s not just the bears.
Animals of all colours, creed and fur length have been targets of comedy for Charlie Hebdo.
If you want to call a publication out on its content then fine – that’s part of the package – but it seems in bad taste to do so on the day its staff have been murdered. “It’s not to justify the actions of the killers but…” Fuck off.
Sadly, being on the front line in the war against freedom of expression has its inherent risks. The brave martyrs at Charlie Hebdo will be remembered for expressing the right to ridicule and stand up to totalitarianism, and the murderers will be remembered for being symptomatic of an ideological poison that can only be cured through ideals expressed by the likes of those killed.
However, the heinous fact that one of the gunmen stopped to put a bullet in the head of an injured policeman may demonstrate that these men had motivations not of an entirely Islamic nature.
The rumour that an 18-year-old gunman smoked, drunk and had premarital sex is evidence that this problem isn’t inherent in the Quran– it’s an age old one that has reared its head recently with an Islamic face.
Are these events much different to the lone American high school gunmen?
To pin tragedies like this solely on religious doctrine would be a mistake that plays into the hands of the killers and to extremist Islam everywhere.
Let’s recognise these events for what they are: callous murders by horribly misguided individuals. The smaller tragedy of yesterday’s events is that they’ll also play into the hands of FN, the French far-right, and even UKIP here at home. Far right groups capitalising on the acts of a few will create a divide that will only help to fuel extremism on both sides.
It is vital, then, that we remember to promote the necessity of Liberté, égalité, fraternité; which is exactly what the world is doing.
Je Suis Charlie.