Leave it to
the French Charlie Hebdo to stir the pot during this time of worldwide tension. Just one year ago the weekly journal published a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed which led to their studio being caught on fire. And if you think they’ve learned their lesson, guess again. It seems that Charlie Hebdo, a liberal, French satirical newspaper, just can’t help but come back for more.
Charlie Hebdo has, metaphorically speaking, added fury to last year’s fire with an even more offensive cartoons this year. When the U.S. ambassador to Lybia and three other Americans were shot in response to the anti-Islamic film, Innocence of Muslims, people near and far were ringing in to voice their opinions about the situation. One such response came from by Charlie Hebdo. It arrived in the form of a series of cartoons, which mocked the Muslim extremists, once again depicting the Prophet Mohammed in a crude and blasphemous manner.
The issue of Charlie Hebdo containing the chariactures of Mohammed was released, conveniently, one week after the angry protests in Lybia of the movie Innocence of Muslims led to the deaths of four Americans. Charlie Hebdo must have thought the increasingly violent situation was an opportune time to practice their freedom of
speech drawing, which is protected in the French constitution.
(Warning: Explicit Content) This YouTube video is a slide show of the various
cartoons issued by Charlie Hebdo along with approximate English translations
If a reaction was what Charlie Hebdo was seeking by publishing the mockery of Prophet Mohammed, that’s exactly what it got.
Many people called Charlie Hebdo’s actions irresponsible. Why would they publish something that could potentially ignite a violent reaction from those in French. Since France has the highest population of any western European country, the journal seems to be asking for trouble. And with violence already breaking out after the killings in Lybia, why would they do something that could potentially provoke more violence?
The French government was actually so fearful of violence that they shut down 20 French Embassies during the Islamic day of prayer as a preventative measure and had the Charlie Hebdo property guarded by police.
One American had his own opinion about why the police stepped in. “THE MOVE on the part of French officials to pre-emptively outlaw demonstrations against such racist caricatures shows that the key issues here have nothing to do with free speech or a defense of enlightenment values against reactionary extremism–and everything to do with the increasing prevalence of racism and Islamophobia, in France as well as in Europe more generally.”
-American Jonah Birch of Socialistworker.org
Still yet, other French citizens sang the praises of Charlie Hebdo for fearlessly practicing the right to of freedom of expression.
Some cartoon artists even responded with their own drawing to counter those of Charlie Hebdo.
Regardless of the numerous opinions presented on the subject, I noticed that I was actually unable to find the response of the group that I was looking for: French, Muslims. And then I got to thinking, isn’t it ironic that the free speech debate sparked by Charlie Hebdo is summoning the opinions of multiple French perspectives in the media, but excluding those in the potentially offended party? In fact, the only media reporting that I could find that interviewed muslims in France about their reactions to Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons was done by a non-French news source and thus the language was incomprehensible to me.
I personally felt very irritated about the lack of Muslim voice in French reports over the Charlie Hebdo conflict. From an outsider’s perspective it just seems so blatantly obvious to me that the group of people whose opinion we should be seeking is the group that is being insulted. Is it that Muslims in France are denied a voice, or are they choosing not to respond?
While I was unable to dig up any responses from the muslim community in France, there was a global response by Muslims that perhaps reflects the attitude of some of the Muslim population in France. On twitter a hash tag was started, #MuslimRage, as a platform for Muslims to speak out about what actually makes them mad, in a humorous manner. This non-violent reaction by Muslims is the way in which mainstream Islam is peacefully standing up, both against Islamophobia and religious extremism.
I will leave you now, with some of those tweets:
- “I’m having such a good hair day. No one even knows.#MuslimRage” — Hend (retweeted 2900 times).
- Lost your kid Jihad at the airport. Can’t yell for him.#MuslimRage — Leila (retweeted 1000 times).
- “When you realize that if you have a 5 o’clock shadow it can be deemed a security threat.” — Taufiq Rahim.
- “#muslimrage when you order halal chicken and find out the chef cooked it in alcohol!” — Hassan Sultan.
- “You go to a football watch party and all these is to eat is pepperoni pizza and beer battered chicken wings#MuslimRage” — Waliya.
- “i dont feel any rage….does that mean i am not muslim?#someonegetmeadrink #MuslimRage ” — Ramah Kudaimi.
Muslim Rage Explodes on Twitter: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/09/17/161315765/muslim-rage-explodes-on-twitter-but-in-a-funny-way-yes-really
The Charlie Hebdo Affair: :Laughing at Blasphemy: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/09/the-charlie-hebdo-affair-laughing-at-blasphemy.html
U.S. Ambassador Killed: http://rt.com/news/us-ambassador-libya-killed-946/