News - January 15, 2015

Meanwhile in France

In the news: The bloodbath at the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo sent shockwaves around France.
Commentary by MSc student of Geo-Information Science Simon Pesnard from Brittany:

‘When I’m in France I like reading Charlie Hebdo. You can’t get it in the Netherlands. Here I read Le Monde online, but sometimes I want the more light-hearted tone that you get in cartoons that tackle sensitive issues in a humorous way. I was shocked by the news that many of these cartoonists had been shot dead.

Some people feel offended if they are ridiculed. But they should realize that this magazine ridicules everyone and everything. I can laugh at their jokes about the Catholic church, even though I was brought up as a Catholic. The drawing of editor-in-chief Charb kissing Mohammed was meant to say that no harm was intended. This attack may make writers feel less safe and be more cautious, even though they have the right to freedom of expression. But someone does not buy a gun and go out and shoot 12  people just out of indignation. Since the colonies got independence a lot of immigrants have come to Paris. The government created two new suburbs on the edge of the city. Because they live segregated from the rest of France, these communities can easily feel rejected by society. Such people can easily be brainwashed and misused by organizations like Al Quaida and IS. It is to be hoped that politicians understand where the killers came from and will focus their policies on better education and integration. But for the time being they don’t seem to see anything except an attack by Islamist extremists. And the need for more security technologies to make attacks more difficult and to detect their plans at an earlier stage.

In Brittany, immigrants and indigenous French people live side by side and there are fewer tensions. But now my friends from Morocco and Tunisia are afraid of people’s anxiety and confusion. People in the supermarket and on the street might be wondering if they are terrorists.’