I am NOT Charlie Hebdo

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I’m not insensitive to what’s going on in the world around me. The Paris attacks on the satirist cartoon and subsequent killing of the attackers in a showdown, their friend holding people hostage at a kosher deli and now the search for the friend’s girlfriend has been the stuff of media fodder’s dreams.

It’s all so sad, like all of it. I am made to remember my first master’s program, where my thesis dealt with Muslim immigration and integration in Europe. The words written by those Academics still ring true: France’s Philosophy of integration needs help. However, the specificities of the French cultural and political tradition blinds them to the fact that racism is alive and well. That Fraternity, Egalitarianism and Liberty are rights only truly enjoyed by those of European decent.

And so, for me at least, these attacks, much like the protests in Ferguson come as no surprise. The same goes for the myopic discussions I have read and listened to over the last few days. Until being French (or for that matter, German, British, Spanish, Dutch etc.) is not primarily tied to being a white European of Christian stock (in terms of ancestry, not necessarily current practice), we will continue to see these choques: hopefully not as ghastly and deadly attacks like the ones in Madrid, London and Now Paris… but the discussion about Muslim integration in Europe is a moot point, a dead one. Muslims don’t need to be integrated into Europe. Europe needs to acknowledge that Muslims are there, and will remain.

Like my Christian cousin who lives in London said once, “Do you know how tiresome it is for people to ask you ‘where are you from’ even though you dress and speak just like they do?”

This entry is written in sadness, because events like these are flashpoints, watershed moments, but forgotten all too soon. And history again, repeats itself. Charlie Abdo like Theo van Goh’s film submission, is offensive and not my cup of tea. But NEITHER is an excuse to kill.

It’s no wonder, when terrorism is not a local issue but a global one, with its roots in Paris just as they are in Yemen, New York, London, Kano or Chechnya. It’s a hard thing to parcel out and make headway out of.

But for the sake of the future, for the sake of the blood that has been shed far too often, for the sake of the promising futures and lives cut short, I hope we figure it out.

So no, I am NOT Charlie Hebdo, I am a global citizen in a state of shock after a brutal attack, followed by another even more brutal one that gets a lot less attention (Boko Haram— in Nigeria). I just want to close my ears and eyes and forget about all the craziness for just a little bit.

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