Afolabi Adegbolu: Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie

Seventeen people were killed in France last week. It was horrific and dominated headlines all around the world. Over three million people paraded the streets of Paris last Sunday in solidarity. About forty leader leaders such as the British Prime Minister - David Cameron joined the French President, Francois Hollande to offer support and solution to counter terrorism. The act was barbaric, uncalled for and had no justification. But the media left out even larger news. This was on purpose. They wanted the world to get a message and sadly, most did. Let’s a take a look at the Charlie Hebdo saga. What did they do? Why was so much hate directed towards them? Let’s be frank, the magazine Charlie Hebdo deserved some sanctions, they were certainly on a fools ride. The praise they got isn’t deserved in any sense. Do not get me wrong; I seriously condemn the murder. It was needless, barbaric and was never the solution but I do blame the magazine for Islam-bashing and inconsiderately expressing religious intolerance, cultural ethnocentrism. It was extremely poor human judgment. Those associated with the magazine’s campaign against Islam despite the anger caused by their tasteless cartoons are guilty of promoting ethno-racial and religious tensions. These individuals ought to be condemned as race baiters, not martyred. All over the western world, there are extremely massive supports for Charlie Hebdo magazine. Millions troop out in solidarity. They totally ignore the racist cartoonists. The media is so quick to exalt the magazine to the high ignoring potential ethno-racial tension thereby promoting further anti-Muslim bigotry. Washington Post even decided to reprint the blasphemous cartoons of Muhammad. And you know what they claim? They say they feel a threat to freedom of speech.  Seriously? That’s plain ignorance. Let me tell you something brief. Racial attack on African Americans, vilifying Jews and racist cartoons of Japanese is intolerable and unacceptable while demonization of Muslims is allowed - Threat to free speech, they say. Pathetic! And it leads me to this. In the week that 17 people were killed in France, 2000 people lost their lives here in Nigeria. Amazingly, it went largely ignored by the media. Even indigenous media reported it scarcely. Charlie Hebdo (and political campaigns) still dominated the headlines in a country that lost around 2000 citizens; and hundreds of their dead bodies on the street like animals.  In every sense, boko haram’s ferocious massacre should dwarf the tragedy in France. It is one of the worst terrorist attacks in modern history. But the media doesn’t care and they sure don’t want you to care. The silence in the media isn’t accidental. Let me enlighten you- 24hours after the murder of Charlie Hebdo journalists, two Tunisia journalists were murdered (beheaded) by the Islamic State’s militants in Libya and it received practically no media coverage. It is very possible you are just getting to know about it now. Newsflash - they were Muslims! The committee to protect Journalist found that more than half of the journalists killed in 2014 were Muslims, even though the international media dialogue of the past year focused almost exclusively on the Islamic States beheading of white Americans, James Foley and Steven Scotloff. More than half of the 61 journalists killed in 2014 were Muslims and many of them were working in countries such as Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Somalia. A conservative estimate by combating terrorism center at New York’s military academy at West Point found that between 2006 and 2008, non westerners made up about 98% of Al Qaeda’s victims. A majority of those were Muslims. Coming back to home front, boko haram has killed over 50,000 people in the last 4years. More than 70% of those killed were Muslims. What exactly are you thinking about that right now? Going back to Charlie Hebdo; there was a 42 year old Algerian Muslim, Ahmed Merabet, who was a security guard for Charlie Hebdo. He was also killed in Cold blood but the media focused instead on many of the white journalists and editors who died. Also, a Malian Muslim (Lassana Bathily) who saved customers during the siege of a Jewish Kosher supermarket. Did you hear anything about him? If you did, you probably heard of the Jews more. Radicalized Westerners also needs to accept that the killing of innocent Muslims (women and children) in drones and missile attacks is an act of terrorism. Terrorism begets terrorism. It is a vicious circle. Neither form can be justified. If you really support Charlie Hebdo, you should re-consider your senseless ties to racism and racial conflicts that will only end in ethno-racial intolerance and ridicule. And to you who believe whatever the media throws at you,  it is time to be more discerning. You are no less a terrorist if you habour hate to selected people for no genuine reason. To the international media, the lives of Muslims and non western victims of terrorism matters too!

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