Monthly Archives: January 2015

Nous sommes tous Charlie – why it matters

Over the past few days, I’ve had several discussions with friends about the attacks in Paris. I thought I would just write down my analysis in an effort to articulate how I see this situation.

Yes this attack happened on French soil, but it has nothing to do with France as a territory. I’ve heard too many “they hate the French”. Sorry, this is not about French people only. They attacked a symbol of democracy, the freedom of speech, in a country that helped defined democracy as we know it in many places.

Journal+Le+Monde+%2B+Monde+des+Livres+%2B+dossier+du+vendredi+09+janvier+2015+2015-01-09+10-42-53Le Monde had an amazing cover the day after the attacks, which I believe summarize really well what’s going on. Yes, this attack is the French sept 11th. It is also similar to the attacks in London, on July 7th 2005 and similar to the Madrid bombings in 2004.

France, Spain, UK, USA etc… We’re all fighting the same enemy. And that enemy sees us as “one”. They don’t care about borders. They don’t attack a country, nor a religion, or a race. They attack a way of life. It’s the fight between “freedom” and “obscurantism”. It makes me scratch my head when I write this because you could hear those words in the mouth of Georges Bush Jr, but this is really what is happening.

pDmwwtNckuBEpPETpt1JQZZN2xTOyVIt even goes further than just removing borders: it’s beyond religion. Those terrorists have killed more Muslims than any other religion. This is a photo of one of the two attackers, walking towards Ahmed Merabet, a policeman that got injured during the gun fight. Merabet is a Muslim, and yet, he’s about to be shot in the head.

To those who think this is a religion battle, it is just simply not. Jews, christians, muslims, hindus, buddhists, atheists… We’re all victims of that small group of extremists who don’t want a world where people are free to do whatever they want, living together in peace.

You basically have a group of people, from many different religions, in many different countries who want to live “freely”. And you have that small group of people, from many different countries as well, and in some cases from different religions (even though they may convert on the way) who want to live in a world of fear, punishment, and intolerance.

There will be more of those attacks, we should get prepared. They might happen in France, in the US, in England, in Denmark, in Germany.. wherever they happen, it is against us. That’s why “Je suis Charlie” is so powerful. Of course we won’t know the pain of losing a love one, like Charlie did. But this attack on Charlie, is an attack on all us, who believe in freedom, regardless of our country or religion or race. Because in this war, there is no more USA, France, Germany… There is “us” and there is “them”. Them being this small group of extremists who have no respect for life, and who are spread in many countries around the world.

Of course we’ll start seeing some isolated act of violence against Muslims. It’s unfortunate, and we should do all we can to limit them, but at the end of the day, there are idiots everywhere. Some folks may even be attracted by some extreme political party (for ex, Front National) that will piggy back on the fear of others to drive votes. They will play the card of immigration, because you know, when things go wrong, it has to be the fault of the people who are different from you. Guess what? All the attackers in Paris were French. The Boston bombers were Americans. Immigration is not the problem. You can stop all the immigration in the world you want, those attacks will still occur. Because the concept of immigration is based on borders, and the terrorists don’t care about borders.

I don’t know how we win that fight, against an enemy which is not a state, nor a religion, and doesn’t have clear revendication. I believe thought that the first step is to recognize who is “we” and realize that we’re all in this together: Americans, French, Germans, Japanese etc… Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc… and have a clear pact of solidarity.

My thoughts on today’s attacks in Paris

This morning, 3 men stormed Charlie Hebdo’s office and killed 12 people, including some of the most famous French journalists.

coran-merdeCharlie Hebdo is a satirical newspaper, who is very well known for its drawings, often shocking. At several occasions, they portrayed Mahomet in a way that was very controversial. At the time, it triggered many debates, and even threats, but Charlie Hebdo always stood for the freedom of speech against fear.

In today’s attacks, two gunmen were filmed leaving the building and claiming they “killed Charlie Hebdo, they avenged Mahomet”. Apparently, they claimed to be from Al Qaida, but this still has to be confirmed.

Those attacks weren’t against France. If you want to attack France, you attack French symbols such as Champs Elysees, Tour Eiffel, Air France plane etc… Those attack were against freedom of the press, which is a key pillar of democracy. Those attacks are really against our way of life and our freedom.

I think it’s really the symbol of what’s happening in today’s world: a deadly fight between two conceptions of the human society: freedom vs obscurantism. It goes well beyond borders, political parties, and it actually goes beyond religions.

The way to answer those attacks is very clear:

1/ Charlie Hebdo will continue to live. Ideally, they will publish their next issue on time and they will continue their work as if nothing happened, despite their despair and sadness.

2/ No fear: in the face of terror, you can’t show fear, and must continue to do what you’re doing. To see all those people get together in Paris, Lyon and Lille is exactly the right answer. We are not afraid.

3/ Bring people together, not divide. It’s too easy to isolate a group of people and blame them for it. The world is actually more complex than that. You don’t respond to extremism by extremism. You bring people together, and together you fight the extremisms. Living together is the solution, not the problem: it’s the foundation of our society, and what those extremists are trying to break.

I’m really sad today, but as John Kerry stated (in perfect French), freedom has a price. It’s a very high price, but we must defend our freedom. Our freedom to be who we want, to believe in whomever, to wear whatever, to love whomever, to say whatever, and to write whatever.

Nous sommes tous Charlie.