Monday, January 12, 2015

#Je Suis Juive, #Je Suis Charlie

This afternoon (January 11) I attended a vigil at San Francisco's Civic Center to demonstrate solidarity with the French people, to commemorate the 17 murdered in Paris this week by Islamist terrorists, and to support freedom of the press.  

Police closed off the street in front of City Hall in order to accommodate the 2,000 people who came from different parts of the Bay Area to attend the rally.  Participants - most of whom were French - stood on the steps of City Hall in front of the gilded doors and held "Je suis Charlie" signs and pens (as symbolic of press freedom and Charlie Hebdo, the satirical paper whose editor, cartoonists and writers were killed on January 7 by Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, French-born radical Islamists who also killed Charlie Hebdo's maintenance worker and 2 policemen). 

Hand-made signs stood out, such as "Je pense donc je suis Charlie" (I think, therefore I'm Charlie) and "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" (in French) held on a giant pencil, and one small "Je suis Juif" (I'm a Jew). 


I had thought more Bay Area Jews would be attending this rally and not seeing anyone I knew from the Jewish community disappointed me, although I did meet two people from San Mateo, south of San Francisco, who held signs made by one of them, a French Jew named Michael.  One side said "Je suis Charlie" and the other side read "Je suis Hyper Cacher" - in reference to the kosher supermarket where another Islamist terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, killed four Jewish shoppers on Friday, January 9, as well as a policewoman named Clarissa Jean-Philippe.

France has seen its share of anti-Semitic incidents which have been carried out by Islamists, many who were born in France to North African immigrant parents and who live in the banlieus, the suburban slums where gangs, drugs, delinquency, and despair rule.  These young men see no future for themselves, are not integrated into French society, and fall prey to the preaching of Islamists.  They are the perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence in France, such as the murders in Toulouse in 2012 and the attacks on a synagogue and Jewish shops this past July.  

This violence is frightening.  I wish that the hundreds of millions of Muslims who are embarrassed and appalled that ISIS, al Qaida, Boko Haram, the Taliban and others are hijacking their religion would stop shaking their heads and saying that these terrorists aren't Muslims, because they are.  My wish is to see hundreds of millions of Muslims marching in the streets wherever they live - France, Germany, Denmark, the US, Egypt, Iran, India, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Mali - to condemn the terrorism that has been plaguing their religion. 

In Paris today over a million Muslims, Christians, Jews, and atheists marched against terrorism.  And in San Francisco today one young Frenchman held his unique hand-drawn placard that expressed hope for humanity. 

May peace be upon us all.


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