Art by Sacha Irick
The phrase “Je suis Charlie,” meaning “I am Charlie,” has gone viral around the world since two weeks ago when a radical Islamic group of terrorists attacked the Charlie Hebdo newspaper office in Paris, France.
Since then, more than 40 presidents and prime ministers marched together with more than a million people to defend and promote what this phrase stands for: freedom of expression and free speech. However, there are two major issues that arise regarding this campaign, that reveal a truth that is frequently overlooked.
First, as stated in an article called “LSE Student Daniel Wickham’s Epic Tweets Expose Hypocritical World Leaders Who Attendended Charlie Hebdo Rally,” published Jan. 13 in the United Kingdom Huffington Post, David Wickham, a student from the London School of Economics, argued that many of these world leaders who seem to promote and encourage freedom and peace represent the complete opposite. Most leaders who marched have all either imprisoned, tortured or condemned freedom of expression and speech in their own countries. Amazing, right?
Secondly, an issue that reveals a hurtful truth, is regarding a forgotten town in Nigeria. I am sure that you have seen endless news coverage on this Paris terrorist attack, but have seen little, if any, coverage on the massive terrorist attack that occurred in Nigeria only four days before the Charlie Hebdo attack.
It is estimated by CNN that 2,000 were killed during this attack by Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgent group that has been terrorizing Nigeria since 2009. Boko Haram managed to wipe a fishing town called Baga off the map almost entirely, slaughtering innocent citizens, destroying thousands of homes and businesses and leaving the streets of Baga entirely bathed in blood. Not that I am deeming the attack against Charlie Hebdo less important, but how is it possible that the death of 12 people in Paris reach headlines and produce a mass world rally against terrorism, while a massive terrorist attack killing 2,000 helpless Nigerians did not even make it to national headlines?
It is time we all open our eyes to the reality of the entire situation revolving around the “Je suis Charlie” campaign. First of all, let it be clear that what this slogan really stands for is truly incredible, as it promotes the freedom we should all have in being able to express whatever we think. Sadly, however, the slogan has already been tainted by the hypocrisy of power-hungry world leaders who claim to promote it and how, by the fault of our media, the Nigerian terrorist attack is being forgotten.
So what am I getting at? Simply, have all the facts straight so that you are not misled by the injustice that is arising next to a slogan with such great potential to represent change.
Know the truth. Know that, according to Wickham, leaders who attended the Je suis Charlie march should not be praised, as they represent the complete opposite of freedom.
These leaders include Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, who imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who was recently held to account for deliberately bombing and killing 16 Serbian journalists, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, who allowed authorities to destroy documents obtained by the Guardian and threatened prosecution, the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who has had several journalists jailed for insulting him, or the Prime Ministers of Georgia and Bulgaria, Irakli Garibashvili and Boyko Borisov, who both have a record of attacking and beating journalists.
The list goes on and on as Wickham does an excellent job shining a true light on these powerful world figures and how they tried to fool the world into believing they were advocates for what this movement represents.
In the end, we should all open our eyes to the hidden and real truth of everything that is going on with regard to this movement. We must learn to see this situation in a more realistic way. It is time to stop praising world leaders who say they have come together to promote freedom of expression while, in reality, they practice the opposite.
It is time to turn our eyes and hearts to the forgotten country of Nigeria. It is time that we all bring more justice to this issue and spread the real truth connected to the famous “Je suis Charlie” slogan. After all, as stated by William Faulkner, “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world … would do this, it would change the earth.”
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