It’s a very sad moment for the world as we mourn the death of some of France’s top cartoonists, after twelve people were shot dead in a ruthless attack on the headquarters of France’s satirical weekly magazine, Charlie Hebdo (Hebdo is French slang for weekly) by alleged ISIS militants. It is even graver a fact when we realize that we have lost a dozen of creative people (who constantly advocated freedom of speech through their lampoons), an original type we so rarely find among ourselves. Moreover, it’s a checkpoint to a world we have always feared. A world that will harvest anarchy, as more and more self-righteous factions will dilute the controlled fantasy we now live in.
The cause of the attack is believed to be the rampant publications of cartoons by Charlie Hebdo that apparently mocked some religious idols and ideologies. While people debate that Charlie Hebdo kept pushing the envelope too far even after being harmlessly attacked by religious militants back in 2009, what we decipher from this incident is that we no longer thrive on warnings. Actions are wildly instantaneous, and the aftermath always constitutes of loss, be it people’s lives or ideas and, in this case, freedom of speech. Here in India, since cartoons are limited only to last pages and below the no-longer-read classifieds of newspapers, and certain unpopular digital platforms, there is not much furore when creativity is used for mocking. No one pays heed to these cartoons, except in few cases which are probably part of publicity stunts. Contrary to the popular myth about Indians that we take the minutest things very seriously, when it comes to cartoons, we dust it off as mere children’s source of entertainment. India doesn’t have a Charlie Hebdo. Instead, we Indians spare the drama and take everything on our own hands. The result is a society confused of its actions and reactions.
The aftermath points attention at the fate of Charlie Hebdo. Will it resume publishing without amending their policy? Or, will it give in and try to avoid future provocations? Either way, France has already been shattered. In the worst terrorist attack it has witnessed in over twenty years, the French press and entertainment fraternity WILL revise their courses affecting the way publications are construed not only at home, but around the world. People around the world have supported, promoted, and lauded the difficult road Charlie Hebdo took in terms of utilizing cartoons for satire, but it is obvious that one will think twice before creating another snippet that mocks a subject, at a time when it takes only seconds for something to go viral. As the French capitulate, it will be only a matter of years that other European countries follow suit. I say this because of the conceptual fact that if we look at the statistics, terrorism has only grown in the past few decades, with no foolproof solution in sight. The brave may try their luck, but Charlie Hebdo was major, and so, other major satirists will take note. If not the agencies, at least the cartoonists will dilute their cartoons.
A terrible start for 2015 as the issue we are dealing with here not only restricts to terrorism, but the imminent death of the beloved freedom of speech. No wonder, a friend speaks the truth when he says that World War III will be sadly related to religion, if it does ever happen.