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Charlie Hebdo: Putting Things Into Context

cciba charlie hebdo contextualising the tragedy 2    cciba charlie hebdo contextualising the tragedy 1

Over one million people marched the streets of Paris Sunday evening in solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack that killed 12 people including five of France's most popular satirical cartoonists/journalists. A total of seventeen civilians were murdered after two separate attacks over the following two days including a hostage take-over of a grocery store and the shooting of a female police officer.

After the initial shock and widespread condemnation of the attack had set in, a variety of responses to the event and the nature of the publication itself became more apparent to those living outside of France. One of three prominent reactions include a perceived sacralising of the publication, as well as the cartoonists. The core intention of the publication, many have argued, was to make fun of anything that may have been deemed culturally sacred (see Arthur Goldhammer's article on Aljazeera) and has been hailed, however crude, for it's courage to freely express itself and satirise its subjects. By default this included mocking public religious figures, cultural icons, political heads and more, which brings us to a second prominent response to the nature of the publication leading up to the attack. The question of whether or not Charlie Hebdo endorsed racial stereotypes, Islamaphobia and other forms of bigotry through forms of visual representation has remained in the headlines. It's interesting to note award-winning "Palestine" and "Footnotes in Gaza" comic book journalist, Joe Sacco's illustrated reaction to the shootings in the following comic.

cciba charlie hebdo contextualising the tragedy joe sacco

It is for this reason there are a number of people who have refused to participate in the "I am Charlie" campaign on social media, individuals who have regardless strongly condemned the attacks and have marched in solidarity with the rest of Paris. Thirdly and most importantly, much criticism has been geared towards the fact that international media has given precedence to the Paris terrorist attacks while almost completely ignoring what may have been one of the deadliest terror attacks in in Baga, Nigeria, where reports (only now starting to become more visible days after the Charlie Hebdo attacks) claim that it is possible that close to two-thousand people have been murdered by terrorist group Boko Haram (exact numbers still remain uncorroborated). The question of whether or not certain bodies are more important in the media than others has made itself apparent allowing for a more candid dialogue regarding what the international community deems to be more important.

That said, the outpouring of solidarity towards those murdered at Charlie Hebdo among others has been overwhelming with heads of state, cartoonists, religious groups (including some of the biggest Islamic organisations in France) and the world at large rallying in defiance against the attack.

Article by Roberto Millan.

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