To be or not to be Charlie

-A Senegalese perspective on the Charlie Hebdo massacre…

When, on the 7th of January 2015, I heard what had happened in Paris, my throat felt dry and for a few moments I couldn’t speak. I hoped that if I closed my eyes…

The Charlie Hebdo massacre touched me not because I believe in the freedom of press, but because people, innocent people had been killed in my own country. It scared me as well. How could Paris, our city, my city, have been attacked?

My eyes followed the video on TV- Was this truly Paris, where people killed with such cold-blooded steel?

When I arrived in Senegal on the 19th of January, I knew that the massacre would be a delicate subject to talk about. All over Dakar, protests took place. On TV, the Senegalese were angry; the prophet Mohammed is not supposed to be made fun in this way. In some way I completely understand them. Islam is their religion, Mohammed is in their hearts and should be respected.

Religion has always been a delicate subject. Even though I myself believe in the freedom of press, I understand why the Senegalese do not agree with the publications of Charlie Hebdo.

Every time I talked with Senegalese about the massacre, I felt a pinch in my heart. I felt as if the fact that innocent people had died was a completely oblivious fact, become unimportant, invisible. It was wierd to talk about the massacre from such a different perspective in which people didn’t see death, but an attack upon their religion.

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