Je suis Charlie, nous sommes Charlie.

What is there to say? Two or three violent young males shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) murder twelve people in Paris simply because some of the twelve produced a few fairly predictable cartoons about a religion and some of its well-known religious figures, past and present. The cartoonists worked for “Charlie Hebdo”, a magazine just a notch or two more “daring” than the UK’s “Private Eye” (which also takes the view, correctly, that those who engage in reprehensible behaviour – and who has not engaged in reprehensible behaviour at some point in their lives? – deserve to be mocked).

“Faith and Belief Forum” has sought twice already to confound the stereotypes about Islam being a warlike, an extremist or an intolerant religion. With timing that is nothing less than impeccable, people who reveal themselves to be Muslim act in ways that confirm the stereotypes.

Perhaps at a moment such as this, silence is the only appropriate response. There are times when one can do none other than despair about how religion generates problems the contemporary world can do without. If you have a faith of your own, please subject that faith to scrutiny to ensure it does not possess within itself the potential that might lead to similar crimes against humanity.

The candles and the arti lamps have been blown out. The scriptures have been wrapped in their protective covers and buried from view. The pious rhetoric of the devout has been drowned out by the last screams of those who have so needlessly died from their gunshot wounds. Yes: Je suis Charlie, nous sommes Charlie. In a world in which it seems the only certainty is death itself, we must defy those who believe they possess the truth (poor, misguided, tyrannical, ill-informed and life-fearing fools), because those who believe they possess the truth do nothing but burn, burn rather than build, build. Protect us from the bigots (of all religions and beliefs) who would kill us for nothing more than their contemptible “truths”.

Are any of the bigots’ “truths” worth a human life? Of course not. Get real.

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6 thoughts on “Je suis Charlie, nous sommes Charlie.

  1. olivierlehe

    There is no way forward without integration, only the destruction of people and ideas. There is no innovation without the free exchange of ideas and people being able to think without fear of death. There is no possible solution to our present problems unless we harness the indignation of every citizen facing barbarity.

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    1. philandre Post author

      Dear Olivier,
      Thank you for your perceptive comment. In common with all reasonable and responsible global citizens (whether with a religious conviction or not), my thoughts are with you and all the fair-minded French people committed to an integrated society which values diversity while subscribing to a common set of laws, values and principles. Because of the extremists, we all face very difficult times ahead. Let us hope none of us lose sight of our respect for individual and civil liberties, freedom of speech included. In memory of the excellent “Charlie Hebdo” cartoonists, the police officers caught in the crossfire and the hostages at the kosher supermarket: you will not be forgotten. You have not died in vain.

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      1. philandre Post author

        Dear Olivier,
        Thank you for the photos: they are excellent. I feel as if I am with you in Paris! We watched the TV pictures for over two hours on Sunday and felt inspired by what we saw. Many more difficult days lie ahead, of course, but unity, solidarity and revulsion for the murders have been expressed by the French people with remarkable dignity and restraint. All good wishes to you and the French people at this very difficult time, Phil.

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      2. olivierlehe

        Dear Phil,
        Thank you for your feedback. Yes, we are in difficult days in Europe and I’m happy to have your support. On one side, we have to be very pro-active to destroy all people that try to make terrorist acts. On the other side, we need to encourage tolerance and protect all communities from all possible racism. Fundamentalism is on the side of racism, but unfortunately it pushes all other racism to be more present in society. Thank you for your support.

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  2. philandre Post author

    Dear Olivier,
    As ever, it is good to hear from you. Things have moved so fast since we last spoke: the siege in the small Belgian town near the German border; armed soldiers guarding potential terrorist targets in France and Belgium; police guarding potential terrorist targets in the UK; French Jews expressing the desire to escape anti-Semitism in larger numbers than ever before; the latest “Charlie Hebdo” cartoons provoking riots, deaths and the destruction of churches in Niger – your words about maintaining a balance are very timely. You are wise.
    Too many people are acting in ways not in proportion. Yet, at this difficult time for the world as a whole, what does a Sunni Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia do? He issues a fatwa against people making snowmen because, by making snowmen, people run the risk of idolatry. Do we laugh or cry?
    Last week, we had an act of remembrance in one of our cathedrals in North-East England. About 60 people of different religions and no religion attended, including Jewish and Muslim people. My message to everyone (on a piece of card) was: “Je suis Charlie, je suis Ahmed, je suis Juif. What offends more, a cartoon about a mere human being long dead, or 17 innocent people murdered in Paris last week? Or 2,000 people murdered by Boko Haram in Nigeria?”
    Once again, my best wishes to you and all the French people at this worrying time, Phil.

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