“Je Suis Charlie. Et Toi?”

10 January 2015
People gather at the Place de la Republique in Paris on 7 January 2015 to pay tribute to the staffers of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo who were killed in an attack by gunmen earlier that day.
REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
People gather at the Place de la Republique in Paris on 7 January 2015 to pay tribute to the staffers of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo who were killed in an attack by gunmen earlier that day.
REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris, proclamations of “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) started trending across social media. But left silent was the roaring and implicit question, “Et toi?” (And you?).

How does one answer that question as a Western Muslim? What does it mean? What was I supposed to say? Is there any option available, save a full-throated “Mais oui”—but yes? Of course, that proclamation alone is insufficient. As after any such incident, I find myself having to prove my bona fides, to respond to demands that I choose sides in this war. My answer is determined by the nature of the unfolding war.

The murders in Paris represent one of the many battles being waged in a larger war. It is a war I’ve grown up with most of my adult life. It has no real name. Some would deny it is happening at all. But through the fog of this war and its complexity, it’s possible to discern two distinct sides “in dubious battle on the plains of Heaven.

Zaid Hassan is a strategist, writer and facilitator. He is author of The Social Labs Revolution: A New Approach To Solving Our Most Complex Challenges (2014 Berrett-Koehler). He is based in Oxford, England. Follow him on @zaidhassan.

Keywords: France Muslims freedom of speech and expression conflict resolution
COMMENT