herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

Everybody's Charlie Hebdo, but nobody's in a hurry to be the Garissa students

Not so long ago, the world went into shock after gunmen burst into the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris and shot several employees who were seated around a table having a meeting.

They were murdered because of their regular cartoon portrayals of the prophet Muhammad that some in the Muslim community found offensive.

This publication knew that extreme Islamists were not happy. They were sued twice, and Stephane Charbonnier, the editor, was under police protection.

After the massacre, people united in their support for the 11 victims. Newspapers put photos online of journalists holding up pieces of paper with the words "Je suis Charlie". People changed their Facebook photos to the same poster image.

The white middle-classes of the western world joined forces from their cosy little social media cocoons to condemn.

Last week, Islamic terrorists stormed Garissa University College in Kenya and murdered 148 people. The reason for the massacre? The Al-Shabaab group from Somalia says it is at war with Kenya.

It is astounding when you compare the reaction to the Kenya massacre with the Parisian shootings. No one has changed their Facebook photos in support. No one is holding up pieces of paper bearing the words "I am Garissa".

These people in Kenya were students going about their everyday life. The Charlie Hebdo employees were pushing the limits. Yet we care very little for those 148.

All the Charlie Hebdo and Garrisa victims are innocent people whose lives have been cut short by evil. They deserve the same degree of outrage and support. But because of our small-minded, subconscious racism, only the French victims become heroes.

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