France’s Sept 11: Kalashnikovs against humor

France’s Sept 11: Kalashnikovs against humor

“Masked gunmen shouting ‘Allahu Akbar!’ stormed the Paris offices of a satirical newspaper Wednesday, killing 12 people before escaping.”

International news agency The Associated Press started its dispatch with this sentence. These lines of a news agency aiming to be impartial actually sum up from the first sentence how the Charlie Hebdo magazine massacre is perceived in the Western world and the traumatic effect it will leave. Unfortunately, this horrendous attack will create an even bigger effect.

Everybody who is aware of the anti-Islamism soaring in the West knows only too well that this wave may soon turn into a tsunami and sweep away all kinds of moderate thoughts and reconciliation hopes, leaving a ruthless radicalism behind. I hope calls from the likes of Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik to CNN Türk and French President François Hollande at the scene of the attack, as well as the calls from many Western and Eastern intellectuals reminding people of common sense, will be effective.

Charlie Hebdo is France’s most popular satire magazine. Its editor-in-chief, Stéphane Charbonnier, who lost his life in the attack, was a well-known cartoonist by the name of Charb. The magazine, throughout its printing life, has been critical, sarcastic, and at times provocative. It is at odds with religion. Maybe it hits out at Islam a lot, but Judaism and Christianity cannot escape its sharp tongue either.

The magazine is also well-known in Turkey. In 2006 it published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and became the center of a huge crisis. It must not have been affected by all those threats and legal cases, as it continued to publish many editions that angered Muslims.
Through all these debates, Charlie Hebdo defended itself with “freedom of the press and freedom of expression.” Millions of people supported it for this reason. Thus, the attack on Wednesday, for the West, is no doubt a massacre against “freedom of the press and freedom of expression.”

The tragedy multiplies, of course, because the slain people were humorists who aimed to make people laugh, who blended the harshest criticism with a certain intelligence that transformed them into satire.

Moreover, it is an unacceptable, inexplicable incident that does not fit into any conscience that they were killed one by one “barbarically.”

Kalashnikovs against humor, a massacre against caricatures… Nobody would or could stand behind these murderers. Worse, it is obvious that this picture will sharpen everyone who has negative thoughts about Muslims and will negatively affect those who were impartial, once more making them take to the streets.

The attack was indeed very professional, and loaded with a huge political impact. It is apparent that this act was done to provoke societies and fuel clashes. It is easy to provoke people because there are an abundance of radicals who are determined to be provoked, are full of rage and prejudice, and who will not listen and understand; some of them are Muslims, others are anti-Muslims. 

It was only last week that the fact more than 100,000 people participated in anti-Islam rallies in Germany was considered an alarm bell. Now, millions will take to the streets. The Charlie Hebdo massacre will be remembered as the Sept. 11 of France.

It will be recorded in history as the biggest attack on freedom of press and on humor. And those of us who live in the East will have a more difficult future.

We will never forget that those who lost their lives at the Charlie Hedbo office in Paris were our colleagues…