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Je ne suis pas Charlie.
Here’s why. I have only recently become familiar with Charlie Hebdo’s work, thanks to the inexcusable act of violence in Paris. I am a fan of satire, but Hebdo seems to focus its energies on vilely provoking the Islamic community. Hebdo’s cartoons have much in common with the depictions of the Irish in Punch cartoons of the 19th century. No doubt, many non-Irish people found them funny at the time, too.
So, is it about ‘freedom of expression’? That’s a bit rich in a country where questioning of the official accounts of the Holocaust will land you in jail, and where the genocide in Armenia was recently added to the list of ‘unquestionable topics’. Where were the mass protests then? Ironic, too, are the words of support from Barack Obama, president of the US, where a journalist lost her job, and her newspaper was censured, for publishing a photo of the real cost of the Iraqi war, in terms of US soldiers’ lives. In the US, the muzzling Patriot Act still holds sway.
Even our words of support seem hollow, when we recall that for 30 years any honest questioning of British policy in Northern Ireland was effectively stifled by Section 31.
Where was je suis Charlie then?
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