On Charlie Hebdo, Values, and Lives

by    /  January 22, 2015  / No comments

Turkish secularists show solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, but murderers are “martyrs” for some. In Istanbul, the Aczmendi (“Adjzmandee”) sect leader Müslim Gündüz tweets that “Europe is the new area for jihad, from now on.”

For Charlie, by Tan Oral. Photo provided by the author.

Hezbollah and Hamas Condemn the Attack on Charlie Hebdo
The Al Qaeda terrorist group, which is based in Yemen, took responsibility for the January 7 massacre at the offices of the French satirical magazine. Perhaps surprisingly for many, Hasan Nasrallah, the chief of the Lebanese military faction Hezbollah, commented: “Islamic extremists are more offensive to the Prophet Mohammed than Western satirical cartoons.”

Hamas also condemned the attack: “Differences of opinion and thought cannot justify murder,” the group said in a statement, quoted on RT News.

But Some in Turkey Praise the Massacre!
The Aczmendi sect in Turkey has expressed support for the attack. Their website, Haber Cedid (which means “New News” in Ottoman Turkish) provides a narrative of the shooting in which the attackers are praised as jihadists who enacted the Prophet’s revenge. How could the AKP government allow such a site to provoke new attacks? The ideas published on Haber Cedid are against secularism and democracy. Its writers believe that “the greatest freedom is slavery to God.” Members of the Aczmendi order hate Atatürk, and consider Kemalism “a religion now mercifully dead.” They are against the pro-Western Reformation (Tanzimat) period that occurred during the 19th Century Ottoman regime.

Secularist Newspaper Searched for Publishing Charlie Cartoons
After the terrorist attack, as a sign of solidarity, the leading secularist newspaper Cumhuriyet (Republic) published a selection of cartoons from Charlie Hebdo Hebdo –not including the cover of the post-attack edition. But just after midnight, police stopped the distribution trucks for 40 minutes to check the cartoons. When they had made sure that the post-attack edition of Charlie Hebdo, with Muhammed’s image on the cover, was not included, the police allowed the distribution of the newspaper. Mr. Utku Çakırözer, the Editor-in Chief of Cumhuriyet, tweeted: “When preparing this supplement and while holding up our editorial guidelines, we have been attentive to religious sensitivities and freedom of religion in our society. Following long consultations we decided not to include the magazine’s cover.” The newspaper has been condemned by Prime Minister Davutoğlu and then by President Erdoğan.

This is an unfortunate but understandable case of self-censorship. Some people – as implied by the Adjzmandee leader Müslim Gündüz — are ready to kill. And have no respect for human rights.

Why is the magazine called Charlie?
The national war hero Charles De Gaulle could also be a topic for cartoons. The name Charlie refers to the great leader of French liberation and Charlie Brown.

Reporters Without Borders Criticizes Solidarity Rally in Paris
Reporters Without Borders has strongly criticized the participation of leaders of countries where freedom of expression is restricted in the solidarity rally held in Paris on January 11. In a statement, Reporters Without Borders said it is “appalled by the presence of leaders from countries where journalists and bloggers are systematically persecuted such as Egypt (which is ranked 159th out of 180 countries in RWB’s press freedom index), Russia (148th), Turkey (154th), and United Arab Emirates (118th).” Christophe Deloire, the General Director of the organization, said, “We must not let predators of press freedom spit on the graves of Charlie Hebdo.”

Warning
Fuat Avni,” the unidentified anti-Erdoğan tweeter who is an inside informant, warns that an attack similar to what happened to Charlie Hebdo will take place in Turkey on Erdoğan’s orders, and that the Gülen movement will be held responsible.

Global Civil War
I borrow this term from the Marxist thinker Etienne Balibar’s article in Liberation. Balibar agrees with Edgar Morin, who advocated cosmopolitanism. Balibar cautions against nationalism and the term “national unity.” Both democratic Muslims and non-Muslims must be able to cooperate all over the world.

Anonymous Will Avenge
RT News reported, “Hacktivist group Anonymous has threatened to avenge the terrorist attacks in Paris by tracking and bringing down jihadist websites. The group’s YouTube message directly confronts Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State over the Charlie Hebdo massacre.”

Neo-Ottoman PM’s Attendance: Hypocrisy!
Ms. Figen Yüksekdağ, co-president of the Kurdish-oriented left wing HDP (People’s Democracy Party), criticized the AK Party government for attending the solidarity march: “Mr. Davutoğlu goes to the rally in Paris and expresses his political stance against terror. Mr. Davutoğlu joins rallies against mass murder gangs if it takes place in Paris. However, in Turkey, he sets the police on demonstrators who rally against these mass murder gangs. This is called hypocrisy in Turkish, I don’t know what it is in French.”

President Erdoğan said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no right to participate in the protest. But if Netanyahu had no right, than neither did Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

Three Turkish Humor Magazines Express Solidarity for Charlie Hebdo
Leman, Penguen and Uykusuz shared similar messages on their covers: “Je suis Charlie.” Je suis Charlie, aussi.

The new issue of Charlie Hebdo has been published in various languages. The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Gerard Biard, thinks that the Turkish publication is the most significant one because secularism is under attack in Turkey.

Professor Murat Belge, who supported the AK Party government until the Gezi Park protests, wrote in his column that the aim of Erdoğan is “plebiscitarian dictatorship,” in which the head of the government confirms his position by popular vote, but he has all the powers at his command to make certain that the vote will go in the direction he desires.

Asymmetrical Struggle
Erdoğan and some others argue that terrorists are not Muslims. But that does not solve the problem. Rumi – Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi, the great Sufi poet and thinker of the 13th century — was a Muslim. But Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban, and other similar groups are also part of Islam. That is sad for most Muslims, but it is a bitter fact. Some believers attack and kill, convinced that the victims will go to hell and they will go to heaven. Some values cost lives.

No Reaction to Boko Haram’s Massacre
The Islamist organization’s recent massacre of 2,000 people in northern Nigeria has not received a significant reaction. Boko Haram (which means “Western Education is a Sin”) has grown from a small terror group to a mini-country with its own territory, an area roughly the size of Slovakia.

Thanks to scientists, we know that humanity evolved in Africa. Don’t we owe everything to our home continent?

ECP Network Encourages Human Rights Course in Schools
A comprehensive struggle against oppression is necessary. The Earth Civilization Project Network, of which I am a co-founder, encourages the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to invite all member states to provide Human Rights courses in schools. Some may believe our mission naïve because some governments will not be willing to cooperate, but shouldn’t we raise our standards, express demands and push for them to be met, and thereby activate ourselves as citizens of the world?

About the Author

Poet, playwright, actor, and director Tarık Günersel worked at Istanbul City Theater as a dramaturg. His works include Breaths of Infinity (a mosaic of poems) and My 300th Birthday Speech (short stories). His Becoming consists of his aphorisms and various ideas from world wisdom. His plays include Billennium, Nero and Agrippina, Sociology of Shit, Threat and Virtually Yours. He has written four libretti for the composer Selman Ada: Ali Baba & 40, Blue Dot, Forbidden Love, and Another Planet. His translations into Turkish include works by Arthur Miller, Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel and Savyon Liebrecht. His presentation of World Poetry Day to PEN International in 1997 led to its adoption by UNESCO. As the former president of PEN Turkey Center he was elected to PEN International Board in Tokyo from 2010 to 2012. In 2013 he initiated the Earth Civilization Project with the collaboration of several intellectuals from around the planet.

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