Wasting Charlie’s Sacrifice

It’s always easy to say you want something but to stand up and work to get it? A completely different story. And once you achieve it? Well, isn’t everything really worth having also worth dying for?


Three armed extremists were reported to have killed ten journalists for Paris based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and two Paris policemen who arrived at the scene.

The magazine was no stranger to causing controversy and had on several occasions created comics that depicted the prophet Muhammad. Something that was reportedly cause for the shootings, as according to an eye-witness, one of the gunmen was heard to say: “The Prophet is avenged.”

Despite our societal laziness every once in a while something does arise that is worth fighting for. The attack on not just the freedom of the press, but the whole freedom of speech inherent to it should be such a case. The tragedy in Paris this week has inspired many to stand up for this essential freedom.

Just like new life blossoms from burned soil, we as a people can use our outrage as fuel to overcome challenges that arise in our lives. And no, I do not mean posting #JeSuisCharlie on your Twitter. And no, I do not mean posting your opinion on Facebook. For some reason those who have adopted social media believe it to be as real as the real world. We believe that because we said something online, it matters. Newsflash: it doesn’t.

Currently the words ‘threat to society’ are thrown around like candy during Halloween (or pepernoten during Sinterklaas). It’s important to understand that despite the terrorists’ claim that they do this in the name of their religion, the large majority of those who identify with the religion despise what has happened as much as you and I. In fact, these extremists are damaging their own religion tremendously by identifying with it.

                                     Muslims denouncing the Paris attacks

But the religious character associated with these attacks is almost irrelevant as that is not where the problem lies. It is to be found in the extremist approaches that some believers have, Christian, Jewish, and Islam alike. Charlie Hebdo has been criticized by many, as its nature is to satirize everything without care. So put aside the idea of religion as the scapegoat and realize that what to condemn here is radicalism, extremism if you will, and nothing else.

Today at 6pm all over the Netherlands there will be rallies and meetings to support the freedom of speech. But remember, while extremism does not stop because you posted something on social media, it also does not stop when you meet with others who believe the same as you on a square. However it is a step in the right direction.

For once, let us take the next step and search for something we can do that has real effects. Let us work to defend something that makes this world what it is: offensive, divergent, and free. Because we might not all agree with what everyone has to say, but should defend to the death their right to say it.

What exactly can we do? No idea. I’m as lost as any of you. Welcome back to the desert of the real.

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