YESTERDAY, ‘I AM HRANT DINK,’ TODAY, ‘I AM CHARLIE’
Editorial 1-17 Jan
By Edmond Y. Azadian
Paris is in turmoil and the entire continent of Europe is similarly
agitated in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on the editorial
offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, leaving 12 people
dead, among them editorial director Stephane Charbonnier and other
An outburst of calls for solidarity with France spontaneously erupted
around the world and more than one million people marched in Paris,
led by 40 heads of state and many more diplomatic representatives. It
was an exemplary demonstration of support for freedom of speech.
The Jihadist terrorists had targeted the newspaper because of its
irreverent presentation of the Prophet Mohammed in its cartoons. Our
hearts go out to the innocent victims whose lives were snuffed by
those barbaric acts of violence.
The act hits an especially sensitive chord with the Armenians who
were the victims of jihad at the beginning of the last century.
Every time a disaster causes the loss of human lives, Armenians
instinctively look for names ending in “Ian.” This time around, by
a lucky turn of events, the Armenian name that emerged was that of
a young cartoonist, Mathieu Madenian, who had been recently hired by
Charlie Hebdo. He had missed work that day and his life was spared.
While France declared a national day of mourning and the glittering
lights of the Eifel Tower were turned off, in another part of the
world, people are being killed in droves by the same terrorists and
they are being buried unceremoniously. The latter are falling victim
to terrorist acts because their stable governments were destroyed in
Iraq, Libya and Syria. One wonders who will turn off the lights for
Forty heads of state rushed to Paris to lock arms with President
Francois Hollande and march in the streets of Paris. Armenia was
represented by Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian. The US kept a low
profile, represented on the ambassadorial level.
The show of force was solidarity for freedom of speech and against
terrorism, but it also had political fallout in France domestically.
If the deaths of the 12 victims is to mean anything, it needs to drive
home the message that terrorism is a double-edged sword: it cannot be
used against your enemies and not boomerang against you. When Osama
Bin Laden was bringing down Soviet MIG fighter planes in Afghanistan
with American-supplied shoulder held Singer rockets, he was been hailed
as a freedom fighter. As soon as he turned his guns against the West,
he became a terrorist.
By the same token, the US and the European Union are defending and
supporting medieval kingdoms on the Arabian peninsula and an Islamic
sultanate in Turkey, little realizing that those countries are the
breeding grounds for an assortment of extremist groups — Wahhabis,
Salafis, ISIS, etc., which will one day blow up in the faces of
The US and Turkey armed and supported terrorists in Chechnya until
the same terrorists detonated their bombs in Boston. All other overt
and covert terrorist plots carry the same risks. The moral of the
story is: beware of nurturing terrorist to do your dirty work.
While watching the Paris march, people could not miss the presence
of an odd couple: Prime Ministers Ahmed Davutoglu of Turkey, and
Benyamin Netanyahu of Israel. Their participation was out of place
and hypocritical, because they both carry some responsibility and
culpability for this disastrous situation. While Davutoglu was marching
in Paris against terrorism, he was allowing the girlfriend of one of
the terrorists, who herself allegedly took an active part in the attack
on the Jewish deli in Paris, Hayat Boumeddiene, safe harbor in Turkey
and later into Syria. When the case was brought to the attention of the
Turkish authorities, they blamed French intelligence agencies that had
not alerted their Turkish counterparts. Turkey in the past has boasted
that its intelligence service, with the enviable acronym based on its
Turkish name, MIT, they can detect a fly crossing over their border.
Turkey is a safe haven and training ground for ISIS terrorists and
Davutoglu’s participation in the march is disingenuous if not cynical.
Armenians have natural empathy for the Jewish people who have suffered
the same genocidal fate during the last century. But that empathy
does not translate into endorsing the Israeli government’s treatment
of the Palestinian people. The European Union has begun to understand
the difference and while paying compensation to the people of Israel,
it has begun to exercise sanctions against its government’s treatment
The origins of this huge political divide goes back to the pogroms
of Der Yessin, Sabra and Shatila camps and the killing fields in
Gaza, which have infuriated the once-powerless Muslim world and the
antagonism has mushroomed into a clash of civilizations, where the
Muslim world fights the West and Mr. Netanyahu and his predecessors
pose as innocent bystanders. Journalists and politicians of Jewish
extraction are in synch with the European Union and they have been
advising the extremists to opt for a more rational solution to the
As we mentioned above, the carnage had also its impact on local French
politics. Hollande’s poll numbers were falling drastically and he was
being rated as the weakest president of the country since World War II.
With the sagging economy and disarray in his own Socialist party,
Hollande was heading towards a defeat in the next presidential
election. But during the crisis, he demonstrated resolute leadership,
which enhanced his profile.
One decision, which he made, had a controversial impact. He failed
to invite the leader of the ultra-right-wing National Front party,
Marine Le Pen, who is gaining momentum in the polls. During the last
election, the National Front received 30 percent of the electorate,
banking on the weak economy and liberal immigration policies. Marine
Le Pen has presidential aspirations and has vowed to withdraw France
from the European Union and undo the deeds and the dreams of Gen.
Charles De Gaulle and Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who were architects
of the European Union.
Traditionally, every time the National Front gains momentum in the
presidential elections, even the Socialists abandon their party
affiliation and rally around the UMP and they elect a conservative
for the Elyse post. It is this prospect in mind that former President
Nicholas Sarkozy and the head of the UMP has thrown his hat in the
presidential ring this early.
When the French marchers were holding banners with the slogans “Je Suis
Charlie” (I am Charlie), much like when marchers in Istanbul carried
the slogans “I am Hrant Dink,” after the latter’s assassination,
Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National
Front, announced, “I am not Charlie. I am Charlie Martel.”
Those familiar with French history will grasp the double entendre
and the political significance of the statement. After the Moors
had overrun the Iberian Peninsula, they invaded the French territory
and Frankish King Charles Martel defeated the Muslim Umayyad forces
headed by Abdul Rahman, stopping the Muslim advance on the European
territory. And since then, one can read the following verse in European
history books: “In 732, Charles Martel at the battle of Tours defeated
Therefore, what Mr. Le Pen was referring to was to stop Islamic
penetration in Europe or at least in France.
We hope this tragedy will serve as a sobering lesson for all those who
count on terrorists to score political goals against their adversaries
and also close ranks among the leaders of civilized nations to say
“no to terrorism” and thus save the right for the freedom of thought
and freedom of speech.
When Turkey’s Islamist extremists silenced the Armenian journalist,
Istanbul streets were flooded with marchers holding placards with
the writing “I am Hrant Dink.” Today, the same extremists have hit
Charlie Hebdo and the world is crying, “I am Charlie.”
As victims of extremism and jihads, Armenians have all the right
reasons to join the world chorus and stand for justice.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress