A few thoughts on the Paris attacks:

On freedom of speech: Charlie Hebdo did not exist in a vacuum.  The idea of freedom of speech as it exists in Europe, is that of an inalienable right.

Under the auspices of this near-absolute right, *everyone*, from far-right political leaders peddling xenophobia, to hateful Salafist preachers (watch) – get to say what they want to . In such an environment, the content of Charlie’s cartoons (many of which can be offensive) become irrelevant.

Anyone post-humously critiquing the publication’s work or examining the purported racism of the creators is completely failing to take the cultural context of western Europe into account, where literally anything goes, and the State has to uphold the right of real political and religious  leaders, who say far more offensive , scary and consequential things than a cartoon could ever hope to.

Having said that, the right to offend is balanced by the right to be offended.

In India, the law falls on the side of those who are offended, in Europe, the right to offend is upheld more.Either way, the tilt  is a reflection of the values of the society as a whole . While the feelings of those who are offended are very valid, I do believe that democratic recourse- giving back in kind/calling for boycott/street and social media protests and so on- are enough and inundating the legal system for relief is silly.

A cartoon for a cartoon, not a bullet.

On the attacks themselves: I wish everyone would stop with the ‘terror has no religion’ caveating. The attack had nothing to do with the vast majority of our planet’s Muslims, but to argue it had *nothing* to do with Islam and instead delve into examining the history of the magazine, or France’s colonial past or immigrant issues is to indulge in sophistry. For a definitive clarification, the words of the men who carried out the attacks should be enough.


One thought on “Charlie

  1. Desi Daaru, great piece. One point – it is possible you are overestimating the extent to which freedom is an inalienable right in France. For example, to some extent anti-semitic jokes are banned in France due to the regional bad experience with the holocaust. So it’s not like you can literally make fun of everybody and their religion.


Go on, you know you want to say it :)

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