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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Je suis charlie - defending French right to speech but not necessarily Charlie Hebdo magazine

Two discreet issues in the "je suis charlie" movement stand out.

One is the public bereavement for the innocent people who were murdered by Islamic extremists in France. The murderers overtly called out the name of the Prophet Mohammed, as they gunned down victims.  

On the other hand, the clarion call "je suis charlie" also supports freedom of speech, intellectual thought and even abrasive dissent against societal standards.

Muslims are apparently threatened by the "je suis charlie" public response, because fundamental Islam religion seems to squelch free speech. 

Islamic extremists killed 12 people when they attacked Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices, after its publication of satirical cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, which Islamic dogma expressly forbids.

A week after an estimated 4 million people in France held peaceful rallies for freedom of speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack, Muslims around the world are expressing concern over what they see as continued disrespect for their religion.

“Many of France’s Muslims ... abhor the violence that struck the country last week,” The Washington Post reported. “But they are also revolted by the notion that they should defend the paper.”

Millions in cities around the world rallied to defend freedom of speech, repeating the oft-cited saying, “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

In response, The Christian Science Monitor reports anti-Charlie Hebdo protests erupted from those who believe that the magazine crossed the line with its cartoons and abused the right to free speech. (Julie's note:  In my opinion, the only way to abuse the right to free speech is to obstruct it...!)

Unfortunately, "je suis charlie" seems to have become a political slogan, rather than a call to support freedom for all people against the terrorism perpetrated by extremism.  

As for me, the slogan "je suis charlie" is a tribute to the journalists who are now martyrs to the terrorism of Islamic extremists. Religious murderers have no cause to kill or harm anyone in the name of the Prophet Mohammed, because he happened to be featured in a cartoon. Regardless, if people support or disapprove of the Prophet Mohammed being portrayed in a cartoon, the fact is, killing people as a result of the publication will only cause his image to be sought after and circulated.

Although "je suis charlie" may not necessarily be a defense of "Charlie Hebdo", the magazine, it's certainly a summons against the terrorism perpetrated by Islamic extremists. These are two issues summarized in one bumper sticker phrase.  

Even those who have no understanding  of French "get" the emotion behind "je suis charlie". The phrase has taken on an identity of its own and may well be engraved on the standards of European unity flags.  

Muslim extremists can protest "je suis charlie" all they want. They won't reverse the rising tide of anti-Islamic extremism in Europe. Moreover, anti-je suis charlie responses won't solve the horror of terrorism. Freedom of speech will not be compromised.

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