I am Charlie vs I am not Charlie: An overview of arguments and counter arguments – by Abdul Nishapuri


There has been a plethora of articles, statements and tweets in support of the 12 journalists who was massacred by the Salafi/Wahhabi Deobandi terrorists in Paris. However, there is also a relatively tiny voice of those who condemn the massacre but refuse to identify with Charlie Hebdo. Here is an overview of arguments and counter arguments.

Asif Zaidi wrote:
“I am Charlie.
Exercise your freedom and its expression. Throw it in the face of anyone who thinks that fear and acts of violence or any means are sufficient to oppress it. Be like those who worked for Charlie Hebdo and stand against this sort of barbarism.
Live and die for the liberty of expression. The fight for freedom begins with freedom of speech.”

I agree.

In my view, the statement I am Charlie is an expression of resistance and defiance against the transnational Wahhabi and Deobandi terrorism that is massacring innocent Christians, Jews, Muslims (Sunni Sufis and Shia), Hindus, Yezidis etc from South Asia to Western Europe and from Middle East to North America on one pretext or other. It is a statement of resistance to violent Wahhabi and Deobandi ideology that massacres innocent people in France because they insulted the Prophet and massacres innocent Shia and Sunni Sufi Muslims in Pakistan and Yemen because they were praising the Prophet on his birthday (Milad). It is also an expression of resistance to the global West-Saudi partnership that has resulted in transnational investments in Wahhabi/Salafi and Deobandi Jihadist outfits from Afghanistan to Syria and Libya to Bahrain in pursuit of strategic, political and economic objectives. Clearly what the US and West tried to sow in Damascus is being reaped in Paris and elsewhere.

However, I also confess that despite clear condemantion of Wahhabi/Salafi and Deobandi terrorism in Paris, Peshawar and elsewhere, part of me refuses to be Charlie because some of the following arguments are hard to ignore.

Jahanzeb Hussain wrote:

“Je ne suis pas Charlie. I am not Charlie. And I say this as someone who is involved in journalism. Charlie Hebdo had actually closed down for years because of lack of circulation. The kind of satire it did had its day in the 70s. But to take advantage of latent anti-Muslim racism in France, it decided to start drawing insulting pictures of the Prophet in order to make business. This is crass and unethical journalism. There is no virtue, courage or honour in partaking in racist discourse. The attempt to make racism ‘edgy’ and ‘fun’ is hopelessly pathetic. Journalism should challenge power and make us reflect, instead of proudly riding the waves of xenophobia. To hide your true colours behind ‘freedom of speech’ is cowardice. No journalist should take pride in practicing such vulgar journalism.”

“So supposedly France and Charlie Hebdo are the bastions of free speech and nothing is apparently sacred for them. Still, somehow, when their cartoonist mocked Sarkozy’s son for converting to Judaism, the Sarkozy family threatened to sue the paper and the paper’s editor asked the cartoonist to take back what he said about Sarkozy’s son. The cartoonist was fired and taken to court for defaming the paper for which he worked. So that much for free speech.”

“Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that have caused a storm of protest throughout the Islamic world, refused to run drawings lampooning Jesus Christ, it has emerged today.
The Danish daily turned down the cartoons of Christ three years ago, on the grounds that they could be offensive to readers and were not funny.
In April 2003, Danish illustrator Christoffer Zieler submitted a series of unsolicited cartoons dealing with the resurrection of Christ to Jyllands-Posten.
Zieler received an email back from the paper’s Sunday editor, Jens Kaiser, which said: “I don’t think Jyllands-Posten’s readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them.””

“Freedom of speech is only applicable through the parameters of whiteness/white supremacy. Only some people get free speech. Black/Indigenous and other racialized groups get demonized, killed, detained, searched for asking questions. Organizing (could be argued a form of free speech) gets you put under surveillance. Damn, asking a police officer what he wanted resulted in a man being put in a chokehold and murdered just months ago. ‪#‎EricGarner‬

“Yet, as the staff of Charlie Hebdo was aware, there surely is a difference, in France, between mocking the pope and mocking the Prophet Muhammad. The pope is the representative of the dominant traditional religion of the majority of French citizens. The Prophet Muhammad is the revered figure of an oppressed minority. To mock the pope is to thumb one’s nose at a genuine authority, an authority of the majority. To mock the Prophet Muhammad is to add insult to abuse. The power of the majority in a liberal democracy is not the power of monarchs, to be sure. But it is power nonetheless.” – NYT

“To say that France has an integration problem, and that it’s in urgent need of repair, isn’t to let the killers – or, pace Packer, their ideology – off the hook. It is to take the full measure of the moral and political challenge at hand, rather than to indulge in self-congratulatory exercises in ‘moral clarity’. If France continues to treat French men of North African origin as if they were a threat to ‘our’ civilisation, more of them are likely to declare themselves a threat, and follow the example of the Kouachi brothers. This would be a gift both to Marine Le Pen and the jihadists, who operate from the same premise: that there is an apocalyptic war between Europe and Islam. We are far from that war, but the events of 7 January have brought us a little closer.”” – LRB

“There is something wrong with you if you are hurt by the insulting images of Prophet Mohammad but at the same time you are unmoved as Wahabi extremists in Saudi Arabia plan to go as far as exhuming the Prophet’s remains from the grave and razing his tomb because apparently any physical representation of the Prophet leads to people worshipping him instead of his creator.”
“Rather than posit that the Paris attacks are the moment of crisis in free speech—as so many commentators have done—it is necessary to understand that free speech and other expressions of liberté are already in crisis in Western societies; the crisis was not precipitated by three deranged gunmen. The U.S., for example, has consolidated its traditional monopoly on extreme violence, and, in the era of big data, has also hoarded information about its deployment of that violence. There are harsh consequences for those who interrogate this monopoly. The only person in prison for the C.I.A.’s abominable torture regime is John Kiriakou, the whistle-blower. Edward Snowden is a hunted man for divulging information about mass surveillance. Chelsea Manning is serving a thirty-five-year sentence for her role in WikiLeaks. They, too, are blasphemers, but they have not been universally valorized, as have the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo.

The killings in Paris were an appalling offence to human life and dignity. The enormity of these crimes will shock us all for a long time. But the suggestion that violence by self-proclaimed Jihadists is the only threat to liberty in Western societies ignores other, often more immediate and intimate, dangers. The U.S., the U.K., and France approach statecraft in different ways, but they are allies in a certain vision of the world, and one important thing they share is an expectation of proper respect for Western secular religion. Heresies against state power are monitored and punished. People have been arrested for making anti-military or anti-police comments on social media in the U.K. Mass surveillance has had a chilling effect on journalism and on the practice of the law in the U.S. Meanwhile, the armed forces and intelligence agencies in these countries demand, and generally receive, unwavering support from their citizens. When they commit torture or war crimes, no matter how illegal or depraved, there is little expectation of a full accounting or of the prosecution of the parties responsible.” – New Yorker


George Galloway MP said:
The [Wahhabi Deobandi] terrorist murder of French journalists and police officers in Paris this morning must like all such actions be utterly condemned. Only hypocrites decry some such murders but not others. Hypocrites like among others the French government which has been facilitating exactly such carnage, except daily, in Syria for the last four years. And through the agency of the very same kind of terrorists as murdered the French citizens today.
The provocative actions of the publication Charlie Hebdo cannot possibly be a justification for murder, mass murder. The idea that God, the master of the worlds, the creator of the universes is in need of “revenge” against a small satirical publication in Paris is absurd and makes a mockery of Islam.
It was already difficult being a Muslim in France in the teeth of ceaseless provocation and the lash of racism and Islamophobia. Today it just got more difficult. Those who hate Muslims and their religion have been strengthened by these [Wahhabi and Deobandi] murders. The west in general appears locked on a course of confrontation with much of the Muslim world. Invasion, occupation, bombardment, provocation chase and are chased by Islamist fanaticism ever more savage and dangerous. It is the road to disaster, for all of us. We must turn back before it is too late.



I am no Charlie. Because they made a mockery of the hundreds of Muslims killed by Egypt’s dictator Genera Sisi saying “the Quran is a piece shit, it doesn’t stop the bullet”. Now someone has made a parody of that saying “Charlie Hebdo is a piece of shit, it doesn’t stop the bullet.”




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