Charlie Hebdo, a non-clash of civilisations (DAVID KRIVANEK, 8 January 2015, Open Democracy)

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David Krivanek is a former Associate Editor of openDemocracy and editor of the Can Europe Make It?debate. He currently lives in Beirut, Lebanon, where he works for an international organisation.

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The Charlie Hebdo attack was an act of violence by deranged individuals. It should not be interpreted as a replay of the Huntingtonian clash of civilisations, somehow justifying past stigmatisation and future backslash against Muslim populations.

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In one day, four of France’s most talented cartoonists slaughtered, alongside six of the journalists who made Charlie Hebdo an outlet famous for investigative journalism alongside sharp caricature. Disturbing videos of the attack in which the two assaillants coldly execute a policeman pleading for his life have been widely shared on social media. Facebook’s video autoplay feature has ensured that most of us have seen these images, even unwillingly.

Accusations of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism… were regularly rejected by Charlie Hebdo staff and their supporters, who claimed that their only prejudice was against religion, whatever its form. This stance directly stemmed from Charlie Hebdo’s origins as a continuation of the weekly Hara-Kiri, the embodiment of post-May 1968 libertarian sentiment, as embodied in its tagline of bête et méchant, “dumb and mean”. Both magazines would regularly lampoon religious authorities and their believers.

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