I am not CHARLIE! I am CLAUDE!!!
Claude is a young professor of political philosophy, teaching in a high school of the Parisian region.
He is a loyal reader of The Maghreb and Orient Courier; and he regularly follows my debates on Facebook…
A couple of days ago, Claude discovered the poster in his newsfeed, which I had posted on my page the night before; I myself borrowed it from an Algerian friend who lives in Toulouse.
What made me do so?
Whilst looking at the last news of the day, I saw the following scene: a group of right-thinking people, in New York, who sanctimoniously stuttered “Je suis Charlie”, with a strong American accent…
Probably these U.S. Charlies had never in their lives opened a copy of the weekly French satire, neither ever seen any of Charb’s, Cabu’s or Wolinski’s caricatures; if we can believe the editorial writer James Brooks, who affirmed in an article published in The New York Times (“I’m NOT Charlie Hebdo”): “If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.”
It was pathetic; the disgusting pathos, which an idiot group movement can produce, imbecile, an epidemic reaction, where everybody does like everybody, without really understanding what is at stake, but, not be part of the rest, to not risk being wrong on your own … afraid of being wrong on your own…
But also because it is very pleasant to feel the solidarity and being part of “it”…
Especially when it does not bear any consequences!
“I am not Charlie
I am Palestine, which is being stolen …
I am Syria, which is being bombed …
I am Africa, which dies of hunger and of massacre …”
Claude printed the poster and put it up on his classroom’s blackboard.
In the evening of the same day, Claude wrote to me …
In the afternoon a small group of hateful persons had assembled in front of his classroom. Students, some of his colleagues, some parents of students …
They wanted to make him put down the poster.
Claude opposed himself.
Hearing the opposition, the group assailed the Director’s office with phone calls and his door with punches.
“Indignant”, his Director joined the hysteric group. He ordered Claude to take off the poster from the blackboard.
Again, Claude opposed himself.
“Tear up this rag!” exclaimed on of the fellows. “Weneed to defend Charlie!” he cried out loudly. “We need to defend the freedom of speech!” (sic)
The group then invaded the classroom; Claude tried to resist and was violently pushed to the ground.
The proud and brave defenders of the freedom of speech tore off the poster, that was on the blackboard.
They all, very probably, never in their existence, have put themselves in any way in danger to defend any form of freedom.
Claude wanted to ask a question about a phenomenon.
Maybe he also wanted to remind his students of the vast tragedies of the Orient, more or less forgotten in the meandering collective unconsciousness.
He did not have the right to do so.
Since this event, Claude is under a disciplinary procedure.
Perhaps he will have to definitively leave the classroom and his blackboard.
No! Certainly not! And after this, less than ever! I am not Charlie!
Because I could not associate myself with these people!
Because if Claude cried the day he heard of the assassination of the journalists of the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo, these “Charlies” who hit him, certain in their convictions, in their narrow-minded convictions, have themselves never lifted even the little finger for Syria, Palestine and Africa.
Because all the Charlies of the world who suddenly felt involved and concerned by the mission to save the “freedom of speech” by hitting Claude to make him shut up – I did not see them … I never see them … When I demonstrate so as to bring help to the thousands of Syrian refugees … When I demonstrate against the carnages happening in Gaza … When I demonstrate against the multinational corporations hungering out Africa … The Charlies that suddenly appeared everywhere have never been neither Syria, nor Gaza, nor the Ivory Coast.
Because like thousands of Arab and Muslim families who live in Occidental cities, I think about my close ones, every hour, those who die daily and ever more in the wars of the Middle East; because I cannot understand why the Charlies do not mobilise for them.
Because I refuse to participate in this collective neurosis – which does not prevent me from expressing my sadness about the suffering and the horror of the attacks in Paris, even if Charlie Hebdo was not anymore, since long, the champion of critical thought and of truth at any price, which it was back in the day. The editorial team had passed a number of compromises with the politically very correct, since Philippe Val put order in the place, an order very favourable to Israel, whose side Charlie Hebdo took in 2006 and since the committee of the newspaper had been enlarged to personalities such as Caroline Fourest, pseudo-intellectual preacher of Islamophobia…
Because I refuse to associate myself to what has rapidly transformed into a scandalous whimper, reserved to the members of the grand Western-occidental club, when, since many years, all these people could not care less about the tragedies of similar, if not more, atrocity, on the other side of the Mediterranean lake, which plunge into horror hundreds of thousands of families.
Because I do not want to be Charlie with all this unconscious people who cannot know the real value of “freedom of speech”, three words of whom they totally ignore the intrinsic realities.
Because I am afraid of their hypocritical sectarianism, by this communitarianism of the proximity, which friezes the most unbridled racism ever admitted, but not acknowledged.
Because I cannot at the same time be Palestine, Syria and Africa … and Charlie. Not that Charlie, in either case; not this indecency which, I believe, would not have appealed to one or the other of the twelve dead … which would have embarrassed them, disturbed them.
Because we are not obliged to have the same feelings as everyone else. Because we do not need to worry if, with reason and mind, we do not express the same visceral emotions as all of those, who are keen to shout the same slogan.
Because I never had a short term memory and because I remember that they themselves who today preach on all television channels and radios against a breach of the “freedom of speech”; politicians, journalists, simple people – although only few months ago, with foaming mouths, silenced without shame and with a fierce arrogance the dissident voice of another comedian, too disturbing … the freedom of speech with a variable geometry…
Because I will always oppose these policemen of the mind.
Because I do not need to give myself the impression of existing, through someone else “I am Charlie”. Even if it is eminently politically incorrect to write it, it is effectively that, which was going on in the last days – a crowd of onlookers who assembled under this epithet …
But this mass phenomenon has mostly the perverse effect of stunning the analysts and to divert the real implications of the three attacks, which struck the French capital.
Since the first hours (and too often at this point), the entire communication around these attacks was fixed around a single target and around the freedom of speech. No Western mainstream media even mentioned the claimant of the attack: the Islamic State, which the same day glorified itself for having conducted this attack – information taken up by some Algerian dailies and then in the Arabic press.
This way it is only after the third attack that certain press commentators started to take back their minds and in an able, barely noticeable shift, re-centred their views about the implication of the Islamic State. Slowly only, still, is the link being made between the Jihadist attack in the Jewish Museum of Brussels – an attack also linked to the tentacular dimension of the Islamic State.
The two attacks, which in Paris have followed the one on the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, confirm the thesis that the caricatures of Mohamed were not the only motivation of the Jihadists. Charlie Hebdo was one target amongst others, in a context of war, one of henceforth-internationalised conflict opposing the West and its Arab allies to the Islamic State, which has stained Syria and Iraq – a conflict in which France has taken sides.
Since the first moments it was quite obvious that these frontal attacks, like in Brussels, constituted a form of action and a modus operandi conducted by the Islamic State.
Yet, it is precisely in this framework of conflict that the events should have been addressed and in view of the circumstances, they should have been interpreted: it is not a question of freedom of the press (or of freedom of speech – which is not the same thing…); it is a holy war. It is one of the wars, which the West leads in the Orient, which spills over and inundates today the streets of the European metropolis. It is an inverse crusade … but not a war of civilisation …
My editorial, this month of January, was supposed to focus on new societal and media policies, which appear to take shape in the Persian Gulf – whose old monarchies, flickering, try to get inspired and to find fresh air. The focus has been pushed aside, like Claude.
Our editorial team has received many reactions – from our readers in Europe, but also in Africa and the Middle East. We could not ignore this event or, more precisely, the consequences, which already spread around the globe.
But The Courier did not lose anything. In the contrary, having entirely played its role – the one which all honest and sincere press group needs to adhere to; it accomplished its mission to fight for truth, for justice and against those who censor in the name of principles they tread on, for the freedom of speech. Not only that of some. Not only even that of a majority. But that of all. From the Occident to the Orient.