Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo called out for publishing dangerously damning article connecting all Muslims to Brussels’ attacks


By Jessica Goodfellow, Media Reporter

April 5, 2016 | 4 min read

French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has worked up a storm after publishing an editorial post-Brussels’ attacks suggesting all Muslims contributed to a global fear within the wider community of being seen as Islamophobic, a climate that allowed further terrorist attacks to take place.

The editorial, entitled ‘How did we end up here?’, was published eight days after the bombings at Brussels’ airport and metro system killed more than 30 people. It said a fear of being seen as Islamophobic had inhibited the public from questioning or objecting to aspects of Islam that might condone violent acts.

It was published in English as well as French, implying it was intended for a wide audience.

The beginning of the editorial listed numerous explanations for the Brussels attacks, including police incompetence, youth unemployment, immigration and growing Islamism. However, the editorial quickly took a different stance, stating that the recent attacks are “the last phase of a process of cowing and silencing long in motion and on the widest possible scale.”

It went on to suggest the attacks “are merely the visible part of a very large iceberg indeed”, going on to describe the role of a terrorist as “simply to provide the end of a philosophical line already begun” for a society which tolerates women wearing burqas or bakers not offering pork products.

The piece concluded: “From the bakery that forbids you to eat what you like, to the woman who forbids you to admit that you are troubled by her veil, we are submerged in guilt for permitting ourselves such thoughts. And that is where and when fear has started its sapping, undermining work. And the way is marked for all that will follow.”

While authors of the article argue the piece is “not to victimise Islam particularly”, instead targeting “the opponent (and protector)” of all religions; “It is the very notion of the secular. It is secularism which is being forced into retreat.”

It’s a subject matter that is close to home for Charlie Hebdo - itself the victim of a terrorist attack in January last year, killing 12 staff.

The piece triggered a myriad of responses, including an opinion piece by the Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole, which compared the paper’s calling out of an entire community to the persecution of the Jews in the 1930s.

“Reading this extraordinary editorial by Charlie, it's hard not to recall the vicious development of "the Jewish question" in Europe and the horrifying persecution it resulted in. Charlie's logic is frighteningly similar: that there are no innocent Muslims, that "something must be done" about these people, regardless of their likeability, their peacefulness, or their personal repudiation of violence," Cole wrote.

"Such categorization of an entire community as an insidious poison is a move we have seen before.”

There was an onslaught of criticism for the piece on social media, which described the magazine as bigoted and racist.

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