Charlie Hebdo

There’s nothing I can say to add anything to the general outpouring of grief and anger at the murders that took place within the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo yesterday.  It’s frightening though.  Acts of violence beget acts of violence. Ordinary people of Muslim heritage, in France, England and elsewhere must find it hard to get on with normal everyday life, interacting unselfconsciously  with neighbours and colleagues.  Those who fight extremism with their computers, pens and pencils may now think twice about the consequences of words and images intended only to provoke thought and debate.

I liked very much an article by Owen Jones in today’s Guardian.  He reminded us of the Oslo bombings, and the murder of dozens of young Norwegians about three and a half years ago, and pointed out that in the main, Norway responded with calmness and humanity.  No bloodbath followed, with faction set against faction.  Somehow though, things seem different now, with arguments about religious extremism set centre-stage throughout Europe. Will France be able to manage the calm and dignified reaction the Norwegians achieved  a while back?

In the community where I lived in France, there was large Muslim population, largely from North Africa.  Many had decent jobs, friends from a range of backgrounds , and were fully integrated into local life.  But in an area of high unemployment, they were often among the most likely to be jobless.  Whole blocks of council housing had only Muslim tenants, and they stuck together, supported each other.  They seemed to me to be quite vulnerable.    I wonder how things will go for them if anti-Muslim feeling rises in the aftermath of this week’s events?

Today, in France, religious leaders from all faiths met and prayed together in solidarity.  Implacable political opponents Nicholas Sarkozy and François Hollande met at the Élysée Palace to share thoughts and ideas, where however,  they were not joined by the increasingly popular and outspoken Front National leader Marine le Pen.

It feels as if we’re at a crossroads.  Do we join with those who, despite their differences, come together to seek to unite communities? Or will the violence, quite simply, spread?

From 'Je suis Charlie' Facebook page
From ‘Je suis Charlie’ Facebook page

14 thoughts on “Charlie Hebdo”

  1. I think we’re all stunned and full of admiration for the dignity being shown in France. It’s very personal terror. I’m watching the news as I respond to you and as always I am chilled when I see the British police carrying guns. I know it’s for our protection but…..

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    1. I know, I strongly dislike it too. I’ve been astonished at the way the UK too has been consumed by feelings about this tragedy. On the other hand, such things take place in the Middle East all the time, and it barely makes the headlines.

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  2. I’m sure you’re right that Muslims in France, and in Europe in general, will have many uncomfortable moments ahead of them after all this. At least that’s what’s happened here, in the wake of extremist attacks. I agree that it will be very interesting to see how the French respond–since the whole thing is still ongoing, I’m pretty nervous . . .

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  3. It’s very moving to see that in front of French Embassies in the world people meet to support France. Here I think we must be more friendly and respectful with Muslim people to avoid an amalgam with extremists for whom human person is nothing. We all knew Wolinski, Cabu, Bernard Maris and others, even without often reading Charlie Hebdo, they appeared in others medias. Despite murders I believe in human beeing for I think most of population is worthy of trust.
    For you two, I’m glad to see you feel better! Be careful and in the warm days coming go on rambling to share beautiful sights and meetings.

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    1. Les nouvelles de Paris sont vraiment choquantes. Nous en Angleterre parlent de rien d’autre que les nouvelles mauvaises chez vous, et nous pensons a vous, sachant que les mêmes choses peuvent arriver ici aussi.
      Pour l’instant, la santé est un peu améliorée. Merci, et a bientôt!

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  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on these terrible murders. It’s a complicated world we live in and trying to comprehend the level of hate that would result in these acts is impossible for most of us. The link to the Guardian article was helpful – take care xx.

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  5. It is a very difficult time right now in France, but the terrible thing is this has been building for quite a while. I know there isn’t a clear solution, but I hope the government can find some ways to appropriately manage the issues and avoid further massacres…

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  6. We have to unite, any other option is unthinkable. But it scares me the attitude of people. We were listening to the ‘sequel’ to ‘Any Questions’ on R4 yesterday. This phone in programme (also known as ‘Any Bigots’ in our house) was reasonably balanced apart from one or two people – one who decided all Muslims/Islamists should be rounded up and put in camps. That was truly frightening.

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    1. Great name for that programme, which I haven’t been able to stomach for years, much less the reprehensible ‘Any Answers’. Yes, there are way too many voices of unreason out there. It IS frightening.

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