Je Suis Charlie: How The Issue Was Commercialized!

Act of terrorism has perpetrated in the name of Jihad, the holy battle, and has been responsible for the death of thousands of innocent children. Those of sane mind condemn any riot or attack of the terrorist nature. However, what has infiltrated isn’t condemnation of these attacks but a constant fear of death. Consider the countries like Iran, Iraq, Istanbul or even Pakistan; such attacks have become a part of public’s daily life. ‘Inane how people get so fundamentalist that they consider bombing and open firing as the only option! Recently when an army-run school in Pakistan was attacked we all took to social media condemning the attack. Not that protests can help or social condemnations can make a difference. However on January 7th when a newspaper office was attacked, it attracted attention from all corners of the globe. The attackers with the hatred for a weekly, Charlie Hebdo, which published satirical posts about their prophet, gunned down 12 people in the office. They let go a lady who was visiting the office but not before dispensing a threatening that she ought to convert to Islam and read Quran!

Charlie Hebdo, the magazine had been embroiled in some such attacks way back in 2011 as well. During that attack there was a case of open fire and the newspaper website was hacked. The 2011 attack was proposed to be provoked by the newspaper makers as said by the terrorist outfits. Since the newspaper had carried a special edition called as “Charia Hebdo” in reference to the Sharia Law and which was said to be edited by “Muhammed.” The issue guaranteed laughter however fundamentalist outfits considered it as provocation. Something similar was repeated in 2012 when a series of nude images of Prophet were published in the newspapers and the newspaper was lashed from all sides for publishing provocative matter. In response to such attacks newspaper’s editor said, “We do caricatures of everyone, and above all every week, and when we do it with the Prophet, it’s called provocation.” However, when the newspaper was attacked on 7th January 2015, the attack earned the wrath of the entire globe.


The world was critical of this attack on freedom of speech. While the aim of the attackers was to forewarn other institutes from publishing such anti-religious matter, the attack did the exactly opposite! Within few hours of the attack the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie) trended on Twitter. It appeared more than 3.4 million times and was used nearly 6,500 times per minute. By Friday the hashtag had been appeared from more than 5 million times! In fact the trend of Charlie Hebdo still continues to be amongst top most trends on Facebook as well. Cartoonists, celebrities even the cartoon shows had the placards put up saying #JeSuisCharlie. An image comparing the power of gun with the power of free speech was released by cartoonist James MacLeod. Soshy put out an image depicting blood-dripping Je suis Charlie in front of the French flag! Profile pics across the social media profiles changed within hours and there were protests from around the globe.

On January 8th musician JB Bullet performed a song called Je suis Charlie which garnered over  By 12 11 million views on Facebook and 2.5 million views on YouTube. On the same day a rapper Oxmo Puccino performed the rap of Je Suis Charlie. Similar was seen in the performances of Grand Corps Malade and French reggae group called Tryo.

On the television, The Daily Show concluded Je Suis Charlie depicted in a cartoon. In The Simpsons’ episode Bart’s New Friend Maggie Simpson is showed holding a banner that read the slogan.


The slogan became a rage post 71st Golden Globe Awards. Solidarity was definitely seen in the event since it was one massive entertainment event post the attacks. To make sure that solidarity is maintained throughout the event Harvey Weinstein, film producer penned an open letter to Hollywood in Variety speaking about the attacks and the importance of freedom of speech. The phrase got used multiple times as celebs like George Clooney, his wife Amal, Kathy Bates, Helen Mirren, Diane Kruger, Joshua Jackson and William H. Macy pinned it to their suits or handbags and used it in their red carpet interviews. While accepting his lifetime achievement award, Clooney wasquoted saying, “Millions of people – not just in Paris but around the world, Christians and Jews and Muslims, leaders of countries all over the world – they didn’t march in protest, they marched in support of the idea that we will not walk in fear. We won’t do it. So Je suis Charlie

While this was entertainment, sports and technology too voiced condemnation. During the pre-game warmup two NBA players wore the T-shirts reading out the slogan. Italian football club S.S. Lazio had the slogan embellished on their uniforms. Even the name of a place was changed to Je Suis Charlie in France. A public square was renamed after the Paris attacks. The phrase became so famous that there were number of merchandising manufactured overnight. eBay displayed over 5000 items dominated by the slogan. An android and iOS app was specially made to jot down the supporters for the cause in and around your vicinity. The world didn’t stop at this, there were several websites registered with the slogan name on the day of the attack.

While many presume that social media is but an insignificant asset, the trend of this slogan proves otherwise. However with this post we merely don’t condemn the attacks but also condemn the commercialization of a sensitive issue!

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