I’m not one to write about these types of topics, but this recent event has really touched me. You can’t help but to see constant updates on the news. What happened at Charlie Hebdo was a horrific act against the freedom of speech. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the victims.
Last month Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that France was facing an “unprecedented” threat from terrorism. If you are living in France, then I’m sure you are well aware of the terrorist acts around Christmas. Seeing that the perpetrators against Charlie Hebdo were able to carry out a well-executed attack in Paris, of all places, Valls was correct.
Is this now a dangerous time to live in France?
Tensions between natives and Muslim immigrants (and Muslims born here) are said to have been reaching a boiling point even before this latest attack. Fears about Islam have been at the center of political debate, helping the National Front gain unprecedented support. Look at today’s article on the New York Times : ‘Dangerous Moment’ for Europe, as Fear and Resentment Grow.
I’m sure if the presidential elections were held today, Marine Le Pen would rise to the top. Le Pen’s promised today that she would reintroduce the death penalty (Paris shooting: French far-right leader Le Pen calls for death penalty).
It didn’t help matters when Soumission (Submission), a new novel by Michel Houellebecq, was released yesterday. I heard my husband talking about it, but didn’t realize it’s significance until now. Soumission imagines a future where the leader of the newly created “Muslim Fraternity” is elected president, beating the far-right Front National’s Marine Le Pen to take over from current president Francois Hollande, leader of France’s socialist party. Women then abandon western dress, and “leave the workplace in droves”, according to the Paris Review. Houellebecq claims this book was not to provoke, but to show how the demographics are changing and could affect future policies.
As the divide in France greatens, more in France are likely join ISIS, or, at least, help it’s cause. Those terrorists were born here in France. And as we saw around Christmas, even those without ties to ISIS are carrying out terrorist acts in their name. Recently, ISIS called out to those in France to kill as many as they could, whether it was one or many. Who could predict someone would take his car and drive through a Christmas marché? Even when ISIS is defeated (being optimistic here), there is still a group in France that feels isolated.
So, is this a dangerous time to live in France? I’m not sure. I think that we need to have a greater awareness now of what’s going on. We need to live our normal lives, and without fear. I’ll be keeping up with the news, politics, and try to stay up-to-date on threats. I think this is the best we can do here. There are dangers no matter where you live in the world. Look at the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
Charlie Hebdo wanted us to laugh at ourselves and each other. Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, cartoonist and editor of Charlie Hebdo had once said he would rather “die standing than live on my knees.” He was one of those targeted and murdered yesterday at Charlie Hebdo. When the French prime minister in 2012, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said that the government would block a series of protests planned by Muslims, Charb defied that, too. “Why should they prohibit these people from expressing themselves?” he said. “We have the right to express ourselves, they have the right to express themselves, too.”
#JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie) is trending now to remind us that this attack was on everyone who values a free society.
Featured Image Credit : BBC
Above Image Credit : Unknown (if you know the artist, please let me know).