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#AreWeAllReallyCharlie? ‘’I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’’ – Voltaire.

In a world following Voltaire’s words the disagreements would arise but everyone would always respect the diversity of stances as one can’t and should not expect every living soul to be in accordance with their ideas at all times. However, we live in a world where the ISIS beheads journalists on a weekly basis, where newspapers are shut down for refusing to abide to the government propaganda and where a press team gets massacred for publishing a cartoon. Ten journalists and two policemen were killed on January 7th by two gunmen who attacked the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France. The assailants were quickly identified as French-born Muslim Jihadists of Algerian descent who had once attempted to join Bashar al-Assad’s army in Syria prior to the attack.

In the aftermath of the tragedy millions of citizens around the world gathered in the streets to express solidarity towards the victims while emphasising the needs to defend freedom of speech and freedom of press. Moreover, terms “Je suis Charlie’’ (I am Charlie) and “We are all Charlie’’ started trending on the social media and became especially popular among youngsters. As nice as the sentiments behind the aforementioned slogans sound, the obvious question of whether we all really are Charlie or not begs to be asked and the answer is unfortunately negative.

First of all, even though social media is the best at putting light on current socio-political issues as it might be the only relevant source of news for the younger generation, the said trends die off rather easily as people forget about and get bored with even the most serious issues and the Charlie Hebdo incident will not be an exception. Thus, the first reason why we are not all Charlie is because soon we probably will not even want to be Charlie as we will all have forgotten about the tragedy. Second of all, the fact that Charlie Hebdo criticises all religions and not just Islam, puts many of us off, especially the islamophobes. Mulsims and their portrayal in western media has been a subject of controversy for a long time now. While it is rather obvious that they have a more violent history than your next religion and that a number of crimes are fairly associated with extremist followers of their beliefs, Muslim extremists are not the only violent religious group in the world. For instance, two French members of the Jewish defence league were convicted for placing a bomb under the car of anti-Zionist journalist. Moreover, in our very own Georgia there have been a number of violent attacks initiated by extremist orthodox Christians with the incident of May 17th being one of them. Thus, we are not all Charlie because we are selective while Charlie did not discriminate. Finally, the main reason why we are not Charlie is that we are too scared to be it. Political correctness and self-censorship are becoming so intervened with our lives that we are never allowing ourselves to actually ensue freedom of speech – a value we are so keen on protecting. To sum it all up, we will never be Charlie but we can at least try to support the ones who are ready to die in the name of freedom of expression and if making a new hashtag trend or changing a profile picture in the name of solidarity is all we can do for now, then so be it .

Teona Sekhniashvili


Back to School - 1st Issue of TSS'15  

1st Issue of TSS'15 - Tbilisi School Session of EYP Georgia