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"I am not Charlie": Cracks in the unity after Paris attacks

Reuters , Sunday 11 Jan 2015
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File Photo: A placard with a news cartoon by French cartoonist Plantu is seen placed amongst other tributes on the statues at the Place de la Republique in Paris, January 10, 2015, after an attack on the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo earlier this week. (Photo: Reuters)
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The world outpouring of sympathy after the deadly "Charlie Hebdo" attack has touched many in France but some either detect a note of hypocrisy or feel squeamish about supporting a satirical weekly that antagonised many.

President Francois Hollande's government insists freedom of expression must not be curtailed out of fear of further attacks, and authorities have got fully behind a spontaneous "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") social media campaign of solidarity.

But scepticism has emerged on the one hand from surviving Charlie Hebdo workers who reject some of the support for them as insincere; from others who found the weekly plain offensive; and others who question the human rights records of the 40-plus world leaders taking part in Sunday's unity march in Paris.

"There are so many big words being said about freedom of expression and democracy. But where was the support (for it) before? There wasn't that much proof," 26-year-old math student Nalo Magalhou said of some of the political and media reaction.

While far less popular than #JeSuisCharlie ("#IamCharlie"), the #IamNotCharlie hashtag has also appeared on Twitter.

To be sure, there is a fringe minority on the Internet who have praised the attacks that killed 17 in three separate attacks over three days and culminated in the siege of a kosher deli in eastern Paris.

But more significant is the body of people who say that while they outright condemn the attacks, they still cannot bring themselves to support a newspaper that mocked religions.

"It would be too easy (to say) I am Charlie," Belgian blogger Marcel Sel wrote on his website.

Horrified by the attacks he unreservedly condemns, he said it would be "cowardly" to pretend he is "Charlie" while he had harshly criticised some of its cartoons on Islam in the past.

Zakaria Moumni, a 34-year-old Franco-Moroccan draped in the French flag at the Place de la Republique rally point for Sunday's march has a very different reason to think there are cracks in the facade of unity.

"Some heads of state and government simply should not be there when they crack down on freedom of expression in their own country. It's hypocritical," said the former Thai box champion, who says he had been tortured in Morocco and had received support from NGOs such as Human Rights Watch when jailed there.
Morocco has rejected accusations of torture and last March filed a legal complaint in France against them.

For veteran Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Bernard Holtrop, the problem is with some of the paper's new "friends."

Holtrop, famous in France under the name of Willem, said he was happy if people worldwide marched to defend freedom of speech. But asked about support from Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders, he said: "We vomit on all those people who are suddenly saying they are our friends."

"We've got a lot of new friends - the pope, Queen Elizabeth, Putin. I've got to laugh about that," he said. Willem says he is alive only because he does not like going to weekly staff meetings and was not in the Paris office when two gunman erupted and killed his colleagues and two policemen.

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5



Dominique de Vallpine, Paris
12-01-2015 12:52pm
15-
3+
France killed more innocent Muslims than Hitler did Jews
It is important to be honest.
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4



Hani Azzam
12-01-2015 12:50pm
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14+
why is it there is no solidarity with Gaza?
The Jews murdered 2500 Gazans, mostly civilians, and destroyed 100,000 homes in one month. And the world stood watching.
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3



Marianne Reifers
12-01-2015 09:51am
6-
42+
not Charlie
Solidarity is a very good ethic. Humans should not abandon each other in the misery of life. But what I do not support and what seems to me antidemocratic: that suddenly there is a mass opinion and most everybody shares in it. I can hardly trust this kind of solidarity. I am not Charlie. For me it is very important to say this by fighting all kind of terrorism. I do not agree with murdering at all and with fashist ideas and with religious fanatics. And I disagree with one opinion in a pluralistic society, with one feeling and with one behaviour. There must be space for different ideas. Thats why I am not Charlie, I am Marianne, anyway.
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Bruce Macdonald
14-01-2015 11:21am
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18+
Well said
Well said. There are too many people who jump on the bandwagon to be seen as supporting a movement that they really don't understand. All killings are evil!
Bruce Macdonald
14-01-2015 11:21am
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0+
Well said
Well said. There are too many people who jump on the bandwagon to be seen as supporting a movement that they really don't understand. All killings are evil!
2



Sami Pierre
12-01-2015 09:41am
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Freedom of speech should not insult religions
I'm Catholic and I felt disgusted when I saw some of Charlie Hebdo's cartoons ridiculing Christianity in the past, such as the cartoon depicting the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in a very dirty, pornographic manner. Accordingly, I understand why Muslims would be offended by blasphemous drawings of their Prophet Mohammed. I disagree with the way the Kouachi brothers decided to avenge the Prophet (by killing 12 Charlie Hebdo staff members), but considering that the Roman Catholic Church had sued Charlie Hebdo more than 10 times in the past without any results (because of France's "holy" freedom of speech/expression law), I'm of the opinion that France (& certain other European countries) need to revise that law so as to exclude insulting religions from it. Freedom of speech/expression should not be a license for anybody to make fun of religious figures, symbols, books and teachings that are deemed sacred by billions of people.
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Rasputin
12-01-2015 02:54pm
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1+
Wise of You!
I fully agree with you. And I am disappointed to learn that Charlie Hebdo is going to publish new cartoons rediculing Prophet Mohammed...
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Rasputin
11-01-2015 08:36pm
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72+
Religion is sacred
Religion is sacred, "Charlie Hebdo"is not!
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