Charlie Hebdo offices, Paris, 7th January 2015.
Another sudden intensification in our evolving multi-dimensional global conflict.
A few perspectives…
The western mainstream almost unanimously responded to events as a barbaric and failed attack on freedom. The massive, instant #JeSuisCharlie grief&solidarity movement appeared to uphold and defend the core liberal values (or rhetoric) of free speech and democracy. This cry was swiftly taken up by global politicians of all stripes – although a wide-angle shot shows their united ‘leadership of the march’ in Paris as a photo-op set-up in an empty street.
Right-wing commentators used the occasion to make absurd tragi-comic slurs about Islam, while in the real world French Muslims tried to navigate the complexity of their situation – and feelings.
It has mostly been left to Muslim and peripheral voices to interrogate the depth causes of the attacks and suggest responsibility might lie with the West’s own violence towards the Arab and Muslim world. Or that they were part of a Jihadist ‘false-flag’ strategy to radicalise European Muslims through “sharpening contradictions” – or even that this actually had nothing to do with religion, free speech or the clash of civilisations, but should be seen as a message from the dispossesed.
Meanwhile, in the quiet spaces, human beings (of liberal, Muslim, Jewish, secular and many other origins, sometimes mixed) have been reflecting on the internal and worldly challenges catalysed by the situation and meditating on the question “How do we respond?”
[image still from TV news]