The attack against Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish market seem a long time ago. But it’s been only a year!
It’s clear that little has been learned since the attack. Charlie Hebdo blames God; President Obama blames guns. In between, we have seen another major attack in Paris and one in San Bernadino.
Charlie Hebdo, whose biting, often vulgar humour has spared no religion or political persuasion, has published a commemorative edition today, marking the anniversary of the attack.
The cover features a Kalashnikov-toting God figure wearing a blood-stained, white robe, under the headline: “One year on: The killer is still at large.”
In an editorial, cartoonist Riss, who survived the attack, said his colleagues had been killed “for having dared laugh at religion.”
The cover, like its past attacks, has caused Charlie Hebdo to lose some of its supporters.
Also, the Vatican deemed the cover offensive and unfair.
In a commentary, the Vatican daily Osservatore Romano said treatment of this kind toward religion “is not new” — and stressed that religious figures have repeatedly condemned violence in the name of God.
“Behind the deceptive flag of uncompromising secularism, the weekly is forgetting once more what religious leaders of every faith unceasingly repeat to reject violence in the name of religion — using God to justify hatred is a genuine blasphemy, as Pope Francis has said several times.”
The commentary added: “In Charlie Hebdo’s choice, there is the sad paradox of a world which is more and more sensitive about being politically correct, almost to the point of ridicule, yet does not wish to acknowledge or to respect believers’ faith in God, regardless of the religion.”
I support the Vatican’s view here, although Pope Francis has done little to improve much within the church–other than the fuzzy feeling non-Catholics have about him. He certainly hasn’t done much about the self-proclaimed Islamic State. He’s one of many.
I hope that 2016 brings the realization that civilization as we know it faces its most serious threat in my lifetime. Yep, that includes the Cold War because that war remained, for the most part, cold.
Christopher Harper is a longtime journalist, who reported in Europe and the Middle East. He teaches media law and international journalism. Send suggestions and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.