Albert Francis E. Domingo, MD

my flight of ideas

Je ne suis pas Charlie (Yo no soy Charlie; I am not Charlie)

Posted on | January 9, 2015 | 1 Comment

by José Antonio Gutiérrez*

I start by clarifying, first of all, that I consider an atrocity the attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and I do not think that in any sort of circumstances it would be justifiable to turn a journalist into a military target. The same is true in France, as it is in Colombia or Palestine. Also, I do not identify myself with any fundamentalism, nor Christian, nor Jew, nor Muslim, nor with the Frenchified secularism which rises the sacred “République” as a goddess.

Thousands of people understandably affected by this attack have circulated messages in French saying “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), as if this message was the last word in defense of freedom. Well, I’m not Charlie. I do not identify with the demeaning portrayal and “caricature” that it makes of the Islamic world, at the height of the “war on terror”, with all the racist and colonialist burden this entails. I can not see with good face the constant symbolic aggression that is also balanced with real physical aggression through bombing and military occupations of countries belonging to this cultural horizon.

I can not look favorably on these cartoons and their offensive texts, when the Arabs are one of the most marginalized, impoverished and exploited in the French society, which have historically received brutal treatment: do not forget the Paris Metro incident in the early 60s, where the police massacred 200 Algerians for demanding an end to the French occupation of their country, which had already left an estimated one million deaths of “uncivilized ” Arabs.

These are no innocent cartoons made by freethinkers, but messages produced on mass media (yes, even with the alternative pose Charlie Hebdo belongs to the mass media), laden with stereotypes and hatred, which reinforce a speech that understands the Arabs as barbarians which we must contain, eradicate, control, suppress, oppress and/or kill.

I do not forget the cover of No. 1099 of Charlie Hebdo, in which the slaughter of more than a thousand Egyptians by a brutal military dictatorship, which had the blessing of France and the US, was trivialized with a cover that said something like “massacre in Egypt. The Koran is shit: it does not stop bullets”. The cartoon was that of a Muslim man shot dead while trying to protect the Quran. There will be some who think that is funny. Also, at their time, English settlers in Tierra del Fuego thought it was funny to pose for photographs with the Indians whom they had “hunted”, with broad smiles, rifle in hand, and foot above the bloody corpse still warm.

We will see speeches to defend press freedom from the same countries that in 1999 gave the blessing to the NATO bombing in Belgrade’s Serbian public TV station, calling it “the ministry of lies”; who were silent when Israel bombed Beirut’s TV station Al-Manar in 2006; who are silent about the assassinations of critical Colombian and Palestinian journalists. After the beautiful pro-freedom rhetoric will come the draconian action: more McCarthyism, supposedly “anti-terrorism”, more colonial interventions, more restrictions on these “democratic guarantees” and, of course, more racism.

Europe is consumed in a spiral of xenophobic hatred, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism (Palestinians are Semites, in fact) and this environment is becoming murkier. Muslims are the Jews in XXI century Europe and the neo-Nazi parties are becoming respected again, 80 years later. For all this, despite the repulsion I feel towards the attacks in Paris, Je ne suis pas Charlie.

*excerpts from the original (accessed 8 January 2015), translated by my flatmate Valentinapaz Aparicio with the assistance of Google Translate.

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One Response to “Je ne suis pas Charlie (Yo no soy Charlie; I am not Charlie)”

  1. ermi yap
    February 17th, 2015 @ 4:49 pm

    I agree completely.

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