Radio Monte Carlo (RMC, based in Paris) has had non-stop daytime coverage of the Charlie Hebdo attack for a second day.
As I write during the afternoon of January 8, Eric Brunet is interviewing the Muslim anthropologist, author and psychoanalyst Malek Chebel.
Brunet asked why we hear about extremist Muslims but rarely the well-educated intellectuals, like Chebel.
Chebel replied that it takes 30 years to make an intellectual but only three weeks to create an extremist.
When asked if the suspects — and other terrorists — became extremists when they converted, Chebel said that, although converts do indeed exhibit more zealous behaviour, they probably already had that characteristic to begin with. Religious conversion and fundamentalist teaching nurtures it.
Chebel added that, contrary to what many non-Muslims think, Islam is not a democratic faith. Later, he said that he hoped this tragedy would serve as a wake-up call for Muslims to reflect on the future of the faith together and put a stop to such acts.
Earlier this afternoon, Brunet took calls from a number of Muslims — mostly women — who are, rightly, outraged by what happened. One said that these attacks make life more difficult as the various religious and social groups in France become increasingly more suspicious of each other. She said that life was much easier in the 1970s when religious extremism did not exist. Brunet reminded her that life in general was much easier in those final years of Les Trentes Glorieuses. He added that 1972 was the ‘last good year’ the French had in terms of prosperity, employment and standard of life.
Another Muslim rang to say that she disagreed with the caller. More diversity has made mixed French humanist/Muslim intermarriage more acceptable. She was happy to see more children from these mixed marriages.
Earlier, Brunet spoke with publisher Jean-Francois Kahn who suggested that every French cartoonist donate one of their works to Charlie Hebdo as content for next week’s issue, which the magazine staff say will be eight pages long instead of 16.
Brunet also interviewed another Charlie Hebdo editor who said he was still wrestling with the experience of talking yesterday morning at length with Stéphane ‘Charb’ Charbonnier about life in general then finding out two hours later that the editor had been gunned down. Not only that, he added, but the fact that the same happened to other cartoonists and staff whom he knew well: ‘Now I have eight funerals to attend. That won’t be easy.’
What will ultimately change after all this? It is uncertain. Perhaps what made this attack different from others is that it succeeded in its aim of murdering a magazine editor and cartoonists. It was ruthlessly cold-blooded in its calculation and execution. Perhaps everyone coming together last night and this morning — not only in France but in the UK, Spain and other countries — will help to serve as a catalyst against extremism.
It is to be hoped this proves to be the case, yet, it is too early to say.
My sincere condolences go to the friends and families of the victims.