Je Suis Charlie

I am an observer of world events.  Presently, I teach Social Studies to 5th graders at the Universal Creighton Charter School.  One of my assignments this weekend was to research a current event that occurred anywhere in the world. One of my students researched a town in Canada called Mayo.  Another turned in a few paragraphs on the weather in China.  The Seattle Seahawks and its playoff win was the topic of another student.  Among the many was an article on protests in Germany in solidarity with the individuals killed in Paris as a result of terrorist actions.  Violence is an unavoidable topic in our world today.

I wanted my students to focus on good news stories.  Weather was a safe topic even though we lost an elderly woman in Philadelphia due to the onslaught of frigid temperatures that we had recently.  I purposely wanted the students to stay away from the Paris massacres but you cannot shield students from what is going on.  Our current subject matter is the visits to North America from the Dutch and the French ironically.  The French have just claimed Louisiana and parts of the Mississippi River on behalf of King Louis XIV in our lesson.  There was major friction that occurred between the French and the Iroqouis during that time.  I want to now try to understand the events leading up to the murder of 17 people in France.

Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical magazine that has poked fun at social issues during its existence.  A major point of contention has been any publication of a likeness of the Prophet Muhammad.  Even though the magazine's editors and cartoonists have lampooned Christianity, politicians and other public figures, the anger generated by Muslims has caused flare ups before.  The newspaper was fire bombed in 2011 for a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad that is forbidden.  One only has to look at the plight of journalist in Mexico to realize how fortunate we are to write without fear.   As a Blogger, I just observe and stay away from condemnation.

On January 7th, 2015 the anger of a few terrorists boiled over in a horrific way.  Gunmen stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdu with AK-47's and  rocket propelled grenades.  The editor of the Newspaper, Stephonne Charbonnier, along with many top cartoonists, did not survive the massacre.  In simultaneous attacks, a gunman attacked a supermarket and killed at least 4 people.  A female police officer was also killed in this spasm of violence.  France has a very large Muslim population.  The response to the killings was a march and a call for no violence towards mosques and places of worship.  This sounded like a tempered outpouring to what is surely an attack on free speech.  The newspaper vowed to stay open and will publish an edition with a likeness of the prophet this week.  I am praying for peace.

I think back to the shootings in the West Gate Mall in Kenya in September 2013.  Individuals who could not recite verses of the Quran were mercilessly slaughtered during a day of leisurely shopping.  Religion and the divide that it creates is creating so much anger and tension throughout the world.  There are reports of a massacre by Boko Haram in Nigeria that claimed at least 2,000 lives.  This slaughter occurred in an attempt to impose Sharia law in this country.  One concern that I have as a Christian is where does it all end.  Why can't we have freedom to worship and freedom of the press?  As the world searches for answers to these questions I would like to wish Godspeed to France, Nigeria and all other countries affected by religious inspired violence.  Je Suis Charlie.

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