Keith Gascoigne

Contentious Blog Post


Charlie Hebdo

Like many, if not most people, I was shocked and horrified by the tragic events in Paris on January 7th. The cold-blooded killing of staff at the Charlie Hebdo office by two young men armed with automatic rifles took me some time to take-in - in a way similar to watching the images of the Twin Towers in America being destroyed. Initially it felt like a fiction but then reality cut in and also the horror.

I felt a mixture of horror and sadness that this had happened. I have spent time in Paris, have visited France quite a lot, I have some french blood in my veins and I felt that a part of me had died.

The ensuing reportage, the chase through the north, the cornering and killing of the two men added to the disbelief and horror. How could this happen in a civilized country?

I heard many discussions on the radio, read many newspaper reports and although there was much discussion about the actual killings and who did it and why I heard no mention of the basic cause - the obvious root.

This has been building up for many years. It was obvious when I used to visit France often during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was obvious to me while in Paris in the mid 1990s that all was not well there. Anyone like me - a naïve englishman (at the time), who accidentally strayed into the down-at-heel suburbs of Paris (especially Paris), in Rouen, Poitiers, even Perigueux in the south, could feel or sense the anger, the jealousy, the discontent in many people - especially nonwhite, young etrangers from the South.

I am not alone. In a radio program in early 2013 there was a report of a man who went to France to interview some of these etrangers in various cities and the complaint was always the same, ‘The government say that they will help us but do nothing. We are excluded and the french - especially the young men - dislike us.’ Few of them could get work and the ones who could had to accept menial jobs.

This awful event in Paris - the political heart of France - happened because people with the power to prevent it happening refused see it coming; they ignored it and got on with, apparently to them, ‘more important matters’. The biggest surprise to me, after I got over the shock and horror, is that it was such a long time coming. I feel no pride, no goodness in stating this - only sadness.

Nothing can bring the dead back, nothing can heal the mental wounds of their associates and loved ones, their families, the people affected by this tragedy that could have been prevented. It is over.

Unless the people with the power in France do something intelligent about the dispossessed, the ignored, the poor, the disadvantaged, the poorly educated, the ghettoed, the groups they prefer not to see, then this will happen again and again.

Why do we leave it to the people with power? They have done little or nothing to prevent this sort of event happening. We, all of us are responsible because few of us stood up and shouted from the roof-tops, ‘This behavior has to stop! It is wrong to treat people like this. We are all one society. There should be no ‘them and us.’’ but few, if any, said this and the people at Charlie Hebdo suffered the results.

The unknowing ignorance and the uncaring stupidity still goes on. In an understandable emotional state, people declared, ‘Je suis Charlie Hebdo’, either identifying with the victims or trying to share the sadness but now that we are calmer, emotionally distanced from the horror of the event it is time to start saying and seeing something else, something that will pull us all together as one, not separate us unto one group and another group - divided from each other and forever in conflict.

Je ne suis pas Charlie
Je ne suis pas Chrétien
Je ne suis pas Musulman
Je ne suis pas Juif
I am not English
I am not French
I am not Turkish
I am not black
I am not brown
I am not white ...

I am a Human Being
like you, like everyone

Until we all see this there is no hope for peace among us. Please think about this.


Class: Failing political system.

Tags: responsibility, caring, compassion, understanding, seeing the truth, world society as a whole.

Date: 2015-01-10.

Posted by Keith Gascoigne at

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