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  • on 09.01.2015
  • at 01:30 PM
  • by Kevin

Am I Charlie? 0

I am Charlie because 12 people were executed in cold blood.

I am not Charlie because I am troubled by the crowd of mostly white middle class liberals who took to the streets in Paris to protest the killings, many of whom apparently feel their culture and values are superior to others.

I am not Charlie because I am troubled by the crowd of mostly white middle class liberals who took to the streets in Paris to protest the killings, many of whom apparently feel their culture and values are superior to others. Many of them also enjoy the privileges of being white and middle class in Paris, a city where many of the lowest paid work is done by Africans, including Muslim North Africans.

I am Charlie because no one has an inherent right to the protection of the dignity of their religious or national identity, under threat of execution. For example, we should all be able to critique and even ridicule Islam, Christianity, Judaism or any faith when its scriptures are used to justify human rights abuses against women or gay and lesbian people.

I am not Charlie because racism is rife in France, and five million French people voted for the Front National last year, a far right party that blames immigrants, most of whom are black, for the ills in French society. And I believe the publishers of Charlie Hebdo played into that racism by invoking cultural stereotypes, whether intentionally or not.

I am not Charlie because I live in South Africa, and every day in this country, even in 2015, there are white people who try to erase the legacy of slavery, colonialism and Apartheid. Some of them argue against the use of affirmative action to redress past discrimination. Their aim seems to be to protect their privilege, and I believe many white liberals in France would like to do the same when it comes to their history of colonisation of North Africa

I am Charlie despite the fact that I live in South Africa, because South Africa desperately needs satirists to expose the hypocrisy of our leaders. South Africa is now more unequal than it was under Apartheid, such that two rich men have the same wealth as 50% of the entire population, and yet instead of focusing on addressing this, many of our leaders are black billionaires, preoccupied with personal self-enrichment. And when cartoonists such as Zapiro or artists such as Brett Murray have tried to use satire to criticise the corruption of our leaders, they are warned not to insult the dignity of the president or his comrades.

Continue reading at The Daily Maverick

By Ben Cashdan

Photo Credit: Thierry Caro via Wikimedia Commons

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