Je suis… I am who I am.

by Mini on September 12, 2016 - 12:59am

Je suis Charlie.


          We have seen this slogan through media, and many of us posted it on all types of social media such as Facebook and Instagram. However, what does it actually mean?  The word “Charlie” became a symbol of freedom after the horrid massacre occurred in Paris on January 7th 2015. Twelve people were killed in the Charlie Hebdo office by three Islamic militants during a shooting. Among the twelve deaths, five were cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that uses cartoons to express certain issues in the society. They lost their lives for the freedom to express on religion through art.  The drawings regarding the depiction of Muhammed were the reason of the tragedy. The art attacks directly to Islam by making jokes of the leader by drawing him naked with words that say “My ass? And you love it, my ass?"  Muslims were offended.


          There are a lot of controversies around the slogan.  Some people agree with the idea behind it which is to have the right of expression. They think that all individuals should be allowed to express freely. However, some groups share the opposite idea, since they believe that this freedom of speech can be used to support racist claims about other cultures. Should there be limits on the freedom of expression in order to avoid conflicts between different groups of people?


          The article “The Right and Wrong Reasons for Outrage: What if the Paris attackers had been Christian or Jewish? Would we all be "Je Suis Charlie"-ing? No, and we must admit it and realize why” written by Tomasky presents an important issue of the conflict. People all over the world from diverse religions to non-religions share the same idea by claiming that they all are Charlie. They support the right of freedom of speech. How would the situation be if most of the drawings are against Christianity or even other religions? Imagine if the cover of the magazine is not about Muhammed, but Jesus with his disciples? According to the author, people will not be united as they were in the case of Charlie since Christianity is one of the biggest religion in the world. Also, Christians are believed to be more opened and not as extreme as some Muslims. They would not support Charlie as much as they are today in this case. The strong criticism of Islam presented in the cartoons has offended some Muslims. However, putting an end to someone’s life is immoral and unethical. Hebdo has the right to express their ideas.


          The conflicting values presented in this ethical issue are freedom of speech and respect. One might argue that we are free to express our thoughts. They did nothing wrong by simply saying what they think of the religion, and show what they believe is wrong in that religion. Obviously, I am not debating whether killing was appropriate, what I am focusing on is whether or not there should be limits on freedom of expression. People neither deserve death nor physical harm.  On the other side, the cartoons were disrespectful toward others’ beliefs and religion. The ideas presented by the drawings attack those Islamic terrorists mentally.  Everybody’s interests ought to be considered equally.


          Freedom of expression is important, especially in a society that supports democracy. We need to spread out our knowledge to others to make them realize certain issues in the world. Also, it helps the world to change. Without people who speak up for themselves, the world would not evolve to what it is today. However, the meaning of freedom of expression changes nowadays. Charlie Hebdo was a good example.


          I do not support Charlie Hebdo because of the lack of respect toward others. The idea behind the drawing was offensive to Islam. It is true that we are free to express what we want, but degrading a religion in a press is not a good idea. It attacks people indirectly by criticizing violently by judging their religious leader. Who would like to see their idol being defamed publically? Yet, Muslims should not use killing as the way to manifest their frustration toward the magazine. Massacre is not the way to end a problem. It creates more hatred among groups in the society. I support the right of freedom of speech, however, there must be restrictions. People should learn to respect one another. Words can hurt more than sticks and stones.


Works Cited

Tomasky, Michael. "The Right and Wrong Reasons for Outrage." The Daily Beast. Jan 12 2015. ProQuest. Web. 7 Sep. 2016.

Eggerton, John. "On Speaking Freely." Broadcasting & Cable, vol. 140, no. 40, 2010., pp. 18.



I never thought about the ethical issue in this particular subject, and it was very interesting reading about both sides. When the massacre happened, like most people, I focused on the ones who died, yet now that I can sit back and think, I believe I agree with you. People should indeed learn to respect one another. I have often said that one's liberties and rights stop where someone else's liberties and rights begin, and I think this is particularly true in this case. Yes, the people from Charlie Hebdo had the right to express themselves, but once they started insulting another religion and culture, then their rights stop. Muslims have the right to be respected, even if some people do not agree with their religion, it gives them no right to insult them. I believe that respect is above freedom of speech. This does not justify their death, but it does tells us that what they did was morally wrong. Their article promoted hate towards Muslims, and yet, most Muslims are good people. Insulting their religious prophet is not okay. I particularly liked the comparison you made with the Catholic religion. If it was Jesus who was depicted like Muhammad was, I believe people would have complained about the cartoons. Therefore, why is it that it is okay to insult other religions, but not our own? When will people learn tolerance and respect?

The title of your entry was what caught my attention. I though you clearly explained the issue and presented well the positive and negative side of it. I strongly believe that even though we all have the right to express ourselves freely, there are times when maybe limits should be made. If we are for the right of freedom of speech, then we should all agree not to overreact in a negatively to the way other people use to express their beliefs. We all have the right to think what we want and to express it how we want it. However, it is true that sometimes people take it too far. No one likes it when their beliefs are being made jokes of. In Charlie’s case, I believe they were playing with fire. Even though they had the rights to illustrate Muslims in bad way because of freedom of speech and expression, they could have given more thoughts on the repercussion their actions could bring. Religious people are all very sensitive when it comes to their beliefs, which can explain why they reacted so strongly to Charlie Hebdo publications. Charlie Hebdo caricatures of the Muslims religion was disrespecting their beliefs and religion. Even though, they were morally wrong to do so, that did not give Muslim the right to kill. I believe it was ok for them to do so, as it is ok for people to practice religion and share it with the world. If we accept one, we have to accept them all. Which is why we should ask ourselves: should we put some limits to freedom of speech?

Personally, i strongly disagree with you. I think the subject you chose was very good and strong, but I do not think we should limit our freedom of speech. You talk about what if a magazine was to have a caricature of Jesus or god, well it already happened in the past and we laugh at it. We have the right to express ourselves. In the case of Charlie Hebdo, they did not want to attack Muslim religion, it is in our culture to make fun of all kind of subjects. It is more intolerance from Muslim that led to that. When you go in other countries, you adapt yourself to your surroundings. If we were to go in their country, we are forced to wear the Hijab even if it is not our culture, then when you come to France, understand it is our culture to make sad jokes. If i can't have my freedom of expression, what did we fight for all those years? we should still be a Britain colony, no?