Just Cause

Julia Esparza, Editor in Chief

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The news has frequently advertised the French words, “Je suis Charlie” meaning I am Charlie. These simple words have sparked debate across the entire world, but in order to understand the controversy, the story behind it plays a crucial role.

On January 7, 2014, three gun men entered the offices of a French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. They open fired and killed 12 people. It was one of the deadliest attacks in decades. The killers are allegedly associated with Al-Qaeda. The men’s heinous actions were allegedly in retaliation for several cartoons portraying the Muslim’s chief religious figure, the Prophet Muhammad, in a negative and offensive light.  One of the gun men surrendered and underwent interrogation, while the other two fled to a nearby French town, taking hostages and increasing the death toll to 17.

Now, back to why being Charlie has caused protests worldwide. The phrase ‘je suis Charlie’ was coined by men and women adamantly defending the rights of the magazine, championing freedom of speech. On the other side of the argument are the men and women, who though whole-heartedly condemn the attacks of the Muslim radicals, agree that the ‘jokes’ made by Charlie Hebdo went too far.  One side of the argument asserts that freedom of speech is fine so long that it doesn’t offend someone’s lifestyle or religious affiliations.

This event and ‘je sui Charlie’ amplifies the ongoing struggle between Muslims and non-Muslims. The divide has widened; concurrently challenging the limits of freedom. The conflict, fundamentally, does not concern religion, but rather cultural differences that prevent understanding and reconciliation. One thing is for sure, as the conflict heightens so does the death toll across both sides.

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