What Charlie Hebdo has showed the world
Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French magazine that published cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, suffered an attack on its offices a few weeks ago. Now related events have shed light on many important issues such as identity and immigration. In addition to spawning debates regarding free speech in the media, people are now reconsidering what it means to be part of a particular culture. As protests erupted worldwide, people expressed their discontent with the current state of affairs.
Defined by hate in Paris
CNN recently interviewed Hatouma Diarra, a woman who lives in Viry-Chatillon, one of the working class suburbs of a Paris that is home to many immigrants. Hatouma expressed her disappointment following the attacks, saying people increasingly viewed her and her culture as hateful.
"It's hard to dream when everyone says the place you come from only spawns 'jihadists, terrorists and delinquents,'" Hattoma said, according to the news source. "You end up feeling completely isolated."
Viry-Chatillon is close to Grigny, the town where Amedy Coulibaly lived – the one who killed a policewoman as well as four other people at a supermarket in Paris two weeks ago. Coulibaly's associates also shot 12 people at the office of Charlie Hebdo. Some believe these were the worst terrorist attacks in recent French history.
CNN also noted that much of the negative press that has circulated the media in recent weeks has brought up many prejudices and cultural stereotypes that immigrants in France have tried to disprove.
"Yes, we need better education and, yes, delinquency exists in these towns, but the government tarnishes us all with the same brush. You stop feeling like an individual and begin to think you're reduced to a crime-ridden town," Diarra added.
Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the controversial Charlie Hebdo cover has been given new life. The Guardian reported that as many as 15,000 copies of the magazine will go on sale in the U.K. over the next few days. Demand for the magazine has not seemed to wane despite the violent protests that have erupted around the world.
Does media perpetuate stereotypes?
Diarra argued that the media has perpetuated cliches about certain cultures and about her French town. Many point to the fact that the media overlooks success stories of people who were raised in immigrant areas considered to be terrorist breeding grounds. Some of those immigrants grew up to become successful and hardworking people. Philippe Rio, the mayor of Grigny, is working to change the perception of his town as a crime-producing ghetto. Coulibaly's sister, Maimouna Coulibaly echoed these sentiments.
"When you are in the projects, they want you to shut your mouth, to stay here, to grow up complacent. For me, the way that people in the projects are portrayed so negatively in the media really hurt me a lot," Maimouna said, according to CNN.
Some people blame Charlie Hebdo for all that has happened. The New York Times reported that while the Kremlin was quick to express solidarity with France and condemn terrorism, media in Russia placed equal blame on the satirical French Magazine for provocation with their cartoon depiction. The Kremlin also blamed Western liberalism for allowing the republishing of the offensive images.
The Guardian indicated that as many as 12,000 more copies will be made available across the U.K. in the next few days, and in the United States, 20,000 copies of this week's issue will be distributed in major cities. Only 300 copies were reported to have reached the U.S. last week.
While all this is going on, Hatouma Diarra hopes the opportunity will present itself for an internship this summer so she can pursue a career in journalism.
"To have a future you need to believe in yourself, but you also need others to believe in you," she said, according to CNN.