The attack targeting Charlie Hebdo should be condemned in the fiercest manner. I think if I did not form this sentence just before using my right to express the hypocrisy that was displayed within the concept of this attack I would be added to the "terrorist" list of some people any moment, just as the comedian Dieudonne Mbala Mbala has faced. He is partly African and I wear a headscarf, which makes me a good fit with Europe's terror criterion.
On Jan. 7, the day the Charlie Hebdo shooting took place, 18 and 38 people lost their lives during terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Yemen, respectively. As is known, again, "Islamist terror" kills Muslims most of all. As these deaths merely have a statistical value in the eyes of Europe even on an ordinary day, they barely made the news, let alone hit the headlines. The day after, we followed the demise of the Paris attackers, rather than Boko Haram's mass killings in Nigeria, which was in the thousands. However, we have limited information about the attackers who were captured dead, who had masks on their faces, automatic guns in their hands, who carried out a 20-minute shooting spree in the heart of Paris in broad daylight and both of whom were careless enough to drop their passports in the car as they escaped.
Even though France is the country where the Kouachi brothers were born and grew up, where they were educated, imprisoned and became radicals, their ancestry is from Algeria, which had been under French occupation for 132 years. Sources say that throughout this long century of occupation France slaughtered around 1.5 million people. I think this reality is somehow engraved in the memories of all Algerian-born French citizens. Add to this the fact that Muslims, although they constitute 7.5 percent of the country's population, come first in rates of unemployment and imprisonment. And then remember how EU countries and the U.S., although they impose democracy on Muslims, subverted Egypt's one-year democratic experience by joining hands with the Egyptian army and the dictators of the Arabian Peninsula. Or recall how Europe acts as if it had no part while the genocide of this century is being experienced in Syria.
Or put all this aside and look at what happened after the attack. Within the seven days that followed the attack, a total of 50 acts of violence were carried out against France's mosques including throwing grenades and drawing swastikas as reported by France 24. What did the French authorities do in the face of escalating "anti-Muslim" assaults?
According to the Associated Press, France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and the glorification of terrorism, announcing Wednesday that 54 people had been arrested for those offenses since last week. The fact that anti-Semitism is highlighted while anti-Islamism is not mentioned here explains why French Muslims do not feel themselves equal citizens in French society.
In a piece by Anthony Faiola in the Washington Post, Mohamed Binakdan, 32, captured these feelings in a nutshell.
"'You go to a nightclub, and they don't let you in,' said Binakdan, a transit worker in Paris. 'You go to a party, they look at your beard, and say, 'Oh, when are you going to Syria to join the jihad?' Charlie Hebdo is a part of that, too. Those who are stronger than us are mocking us. We have high unemployment, high poverty. Religion is all we have left. This is sacred to us. And yes, we have a hard time laughing about it.'"
As long as the stronger keeps invading, killing, humiliating, exploiting, excluding and mocking those weaker, we are bound to live in this vicious cycle.
About the author
Hilal Kaplan is a journalist and columnist. Kaplan is also board member of TRT, the national public broadcaster of Turkey.