Tag Archives: Charlie Hebdo

Bernie Sanders VS. Black Lives Matter: How Is This Helping?

I haven’t been this depressed about writing a post since the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Even as my fingers move across my keyboard I can feel my willpower just oozing right out of me. And it’s not that the issues here aren’t worth talking about- they absolutely are. It’s just that the whole affair has been so…


Let me just hit you with the hard facts before we jump into this morass of stupidity and futility.

This Saturday in Seattle Democratic-Socialist and presidential-hopeful Bernie Sanders was holding a political rally for his campaign. Shortly after beginning, a pair of protestors from Black Lives Matter (a nation-wide movement speaking out against police violence towards African Americans) climbed up on stage. The two protestors, for some twenty minutes, recounted grievances of the local black community and scolded Sanders for not having been vocal enough about police violence towards minorities. “…Join us now in holding Bernie Sanders accountable…” stated Marissa Johnson, one of the protestors.

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Je suis Miyazaki?

While the tragic terrorist attack on the offices of French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo may be a month behind us, that doesn’t mean that a lot of people aren’t still talking about it.  Most recently, one of those people is (quite surprisingly, given his reclusive reputation) famed animator and all around wonderful human being Hayao Miyazaki.

Now if you don’t already know who this guy is, you are a deprived human being.  Go watch Spirited Away, seriously.  The guy is responsible for some of the most beautiful, creative, and thought-provoking animated films of our age.  He also has some great stuff to say about the state of animation in his home country of Japan.

But anyway, Charlie Hebdo.  In case you’ve been living under a rock, a quick summary:  the aforementioned French satirical paper often featured crude, insulting cartoons mocking various religions, and recently contained a few choice ‘toons about the prophet Muhammad, which then sparked a brutal terrorist attack in which 12 of its staff were killed.  Since then, sales of the periodical have skyrocketed, and many have marched in support of Charlie Hebdo under the banner of “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”).  All in all, the victims have been seen as martyrs for “free speech.”

And what does Miyazaki have to say about all of this?  Well, basically, that the Charlie Hebdo comics were a “mistake.”

Clearly, this will not sit well with many.  But hey, let’s let the man explain.

“For me, I think it’s a mistake to make caricatures of what different cultures worship […] It’s a good idea to stop doing that.”

[via Kotaku‘s translation from Yahoo! News].”

So basically… He wants people to be respectful of the dearly held beliefs of others.

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Clarifying Charlie Hebdo

Let’s face it- there’s no way to avoid this topic. At this point, I don’t know that there’s anything I can say that hasn’t already been said in the past few days. What I’d like to do, if I can’t offer anything new, is at least offer some clarity. Here are the facts, folks:

On the 7th of this month Sayeed and Shareef Kouachi attacked satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for running cartoons deemed “insulting to Islam”. The Kouachi brothers, armed with AK-47s, a shotgun, and a grenade launcher, killed 12 individuals- most of them magazine staff and cartoonists- in addition to wounding several others. Two days later the Kouachis would be killed by French police after a protracted siege in a warehouse. Other suspects involved in the attack are currently being hunted down.

Since the 7th, we’ve seen an outpouring of indignant outrage over the killings, as well as solidarity marches, both for France and for freedom of speech. Despite the near universal solidarity behind Charlie Hebdo, a myriad of differing conclusions have been voiced in the past few days- some good, some bad, and many missing the point entirely (in spite of genuinely good intentions). Let me try to address a few of these below.

Not All Muslims Are Terrorists/Not All Terrorists Are Muslim

…But I shouldn’t have to tell you that.

At this point, parroting that line is starting to feel almost patronizing. It’s an obvious truth, and it shouldn’t need me to defend it. There are millions upon millions of Muslims in the world, the vast majority of whom want nothing more than to live their lives in peace- among them, Ahmed Merabet, a police officer and the first of the Kouachis victims. Whether the infamous 9/11 attacks (in which American Muslim Mohammad Hamdani died attempting to rescue people from the North Tower) or the thousands of Muslim Arabs and Kurds fighting against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Muslims shouldn’t have to be “rescued”. From Abdul Haji to Aitazaz Hassan Bangash to Malala Yousafzai– there are just as many heroic actions from Muslims as their are heinous ones.

But this is, again, obvious to anyone actually interested. I don’t know that there’s anybody out there who hasn’t already made up their mind about it (for better or for worse). Continue reading

The Implications of Charlie Hebdo’s Mockery of Islam and Muslims’ Response

source: gatesofvienna.blogspot.com

On the cover of Charlie Hebdo last week, Mohammed is saying (in English), "100 lashes if you don't die laughing!". Reproductions of images of Mohammed are considered particularly offensive in Islam.

Charlie Hebdo [“Charlie Weekly”], kind of The Onion of France, published an issue last week entitled “Charia Hebdo”, which featured a cartoon of Mohammed saying (in French) “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing!”. The November 2 issue was retitled “Charia Hebdo” (referring to the holy Islamic code of laws called Sharia), and listed Mohammed as “guest editor” for the issue. In response, the publication’s website was hacked, showing a picture of Mecca and the text [in English] “No God But Allah”, followed by a series of questions arguing for theism (specifically Islam, but they were pretty generally theistic questions, like “Have you seen a wonderful delicate work without a worker?”). A 20 year old IT worker in Turkey claimed responsibility for the hacking. Shortly before the issue hit the streets, Charlie Hebdo’s offices were set on fire (via a molotov cocktail, according to telegraph.co.uk) and much of the inside of them was destroyed.


The hacked Charlie Hebdo website.

Given the recent passing of the bill that banned the wearing of niqabs and burkas under penalty of monetary fine, the demonstration of further European French/Muslim French tension is unsurprising and worrisome. The demographics of France are disputed, with reports from 2009 ranging from 4%-10% of the population being Muslim, but it is agreed upon that the Muslim population in France is increasing rapidly. Muslims have expressed feelings of ostracization by Sarkozy, especially with the recent head covering bill, and it is evident from Charlie Hebdo’s publication that at least some animosity towards Islam is common among the European French.

Charlie Hebdo’s publication was specifically blasphemous to Islam – more so than, say, Christians would probably find a picture of Jesus saying the same thing [though yes that would be rather upsetting to many people] – because of the specific Islamic mandate against the reproduction of pictures of Mohammed, and the reverence with which the prophet is held.

The French government passed a similiar and vaguer bill prohibiting ‘conspicuous religious symbols’ in 2004. This is just a small demonstration of the staunch secularism in France since 1789, when the revolution removed the huge amounts of power the Roman Catholic Church had over society. After the revolution, France has made it a pretty big deal to avoid giving a religious group such power again, and so has consistently been very intentional about the individualisation of religion and maintaining the separation between church and state.

This separation has worked fairly well for the past few centuries, as devout French Christians became fewer in number and French society as a whole valued an a-religious government, but the increasing Muslim population in France is beginning to disturb that environment. Though the population of Muslims in France is small, the presence of a solid and devout minority in such a staunchly secularist country will foster discord, the beginnings of which can be seen in recent events.