Social Action Now!

An objective view to worldwide social issues

Je suis Charlie, but only for today.

It was impossible to ignore in all European countries, the murder of the 12 employees of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo by muslim extremists. The horrifying news lead to a regained interest in human rights and the freedom of speech, something which the writers and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo relied heavily on.  The following rallies in different countries, the biggest of course being in Paris near the office of the newspaper, gave new impulse to attention to the wrongs in our world. But a question mark has to be placed by some events following the massacre.

A march was organised in Paris on Sunday January 10 to honour the victims. A united front was shown against the actions of those who try to limit the freedom of speech in our modern world. Over 1.5 million people were present and amongst them many world leaders, forgetting their quarrels for a moment, walking arm in arm in front of the French public to show their support. More then 50 nations from all over the world were represented and it almost seems impossible that an extremist attack would ever be able to de-construct the strong bonds that have been formed over the years between all the people of these nations. But there was to be detected some controversy in the actions by some of the world leaders.

Observers noticed that some of the present world leaders were happily joining the march, showing their support for free speech, while at the same time being accused of acts against that same human right in their own country. A short list of whom we are talking about at the moment: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Gabonese President Ali Bongo. In all of the countries of which they form part of the government, journalists are being arrested or forced to leave the country. It is as if for them the only reason to defend freedom of speech is that it is a worldwide trend and used as a vague concept which somehow doesn’t apply to the situation in their own countries.

You can almost hear them thinking: “Je suis Charlie, but only if I don’t have change my own policies.”

Sources:

  • Posetti J., “The Paris unity march shows we must protect freedom of expression, not curtail it further” for The Guardian. Last modified on Monday 12 January, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/12/the-paris-unity-march-shows-we-must-protect-freedom-of-expression-not-curtail-it-further
  • Taylor A., “The free-speech hipocrisy of some world leaders marching in Paris” for The Washington Post. Last modified on Sunday 11 January, 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/01/11/the-free-speech-hypocrisy-of-some-world-leaders-marching-in-paris/
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