The Paris Attacks Are an Insult to the Prophet Mohamad

Terrorism struck in the heart of Paris on Wednesday, Jan. 7, when three masked gunmen killed 12 people at the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Media reports rushed to describe the crime as “an apparent militant Islamist attack” because the paper had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohamad, even though the suspects, who fled the scene of the massacre, were still at large.

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The Root, Commentary, Kirsten West Savali, Posted: Jan 13, 2015 From a bombed NAACP office in Colorado to the decimated town of Baga, Nigeria, acts of terrorism against black people and institutions have failed to generate much attention in the United States this past week. Most of the Western world and its political leaders have, instead, turned their eyes to No. 10 rue Nicolas-Appert, Paris, France—the location of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. As most of the world now knows, an al-Qaida-led terrorist attack left 12 people dead there last Wednesday. And in a separate, related terrorist attack on Friday in Paris, four hostages were killed by a gunman at a kosher supermarket. Following in the footsteps of civil rights marchers in the United States on Sunday, world leaders, such as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba, linked arms in unity and led an estimated 3.7 million people in a march to show solidarity with Charlie—a magazine whose Islamophobic bent has been largely underplayed in a broader debate about free speech. The hypocrisy of certain world leaders attending the march, while maintaining a vise grip on free speech in their own countries, has been well-documented. But the relative silence surrounding the horrific, nearly contemporaneous attack that took place in Baga has been deafening. In Baga and the surrounding area, it’s estimated that 2,000 people were killed last week—mostly the elderly, women and children—when Boko Haram, the same terrorist organization responsible for kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls last April, methodically massacred them and set the town on fire. And this weekend, Boko Haram also used three 10-year-old girls to blow up markets in the towns of Potiskum and Maiduguri, leaving more than 20 people dead. “This marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught,” said Amnesty International’s Daniel Eyre several days after the bloody attacks. Yet the silence continues. It’s almost willful at this point, this blatant disregard and unconcern for black lives, both here and throughout the Diaspora. After months of social and racial unrest sparked by the state-sanctioned killings of unarmed African Americans across the country, so-called liberal allies had a chance to proclaim that “Black Lives Matter” at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday. Instead, Hollywood heavyweights from George Clooney to Kathy Bates proclaimed, “Je suis Charlie,” choosing instead to show solidarity with a wildly offensive satirical magazine halfway across the world. Hip-hop artist, actor and activist Common was the only person who even made mention of simmering protests around the country. But even still, his remarks were framed as “all lives matter,” when the loud silence on black deaths both in America and abroad shows the very opposite to be true. At the same time that black and brown victims around the world are made invisible, we simultaneously see a perpetuation of the myth of black and brown criminality: Fox News correspondent Shannon Bream claimed after the Charlie Hebdo attacks that it’s difficult to tell who the “bad guys” are if you “can’t see what color they are.” Not surprisingly, Lassana Bathily, the black Muslim who saved the lives of several shoppers when Amedy Coulibaly burst into Parisian kosher market Hyper Cacher, was not hailed as the hero he is; in fact, he was initially considered a suspect because of his skin color. “They told me, ‘Get down on the ground, hands over your head,’” he told BFMTV. “They cuffed me and held me for an hour and a half, as if I was with them.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? In describing Cherif Kouachi, who, along with his brother, Said Kouachi—both now dead—is accused of carrying out the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the Washington Post had this to say about him and his neighborhood: “ ... radical Islam simmered in the 19th arrondissement. Its skyline was crowded with the sort of high-rises the Associated Press described as ‘public housing slums that breed violence and crime.’ ... He drank, smoked pot, slept with his girlfriend and delivered pizzas for a living ... and spent a lot of time listening to rap music.” The suggestion that, apparently, rap music is somehow partly to blame for the Charlie Hebdo attacks has been floating throughout the mainstream media narrative, with video surfacing on YouTube of Kouachi rapping. It’s ludicrous. There has been an almost instinctive need to contextualize these crimes through a white supremacist lens, raising the specter of blackness as a terroristic threat to society. Meanwhile, the brutal killing of thousands of Nigerians largely goes ignored. Whatever else is said, this I know for sure: While the world holds its arms out in sympathy for Charlie Hebdo, we who believe in freedom must seek justice for black people around the world—including for the victims of Boko Haram. We must continue to say that all black lives matter, even when the world refuses to see it. Kirsten West Savali is a cultural critic and senior writer for The Root, where she explores the intersections of race, gender, politics and pop culture. Follow her on Twitter.

Thousands of Black Lives Mattered in Nigeria, but the World Didn’t Pay Attention

From a bombed NAACP office in Colorado to the decimated town of Baga, Nigeria, acts of terrorism against black people and institutions have failed to generate much attention in the United States this past week.

Most of the Western world and its political leaders have, instead, turned their eyes to No. 10 rue Nicolas-Appert, Paris, France—the location of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. As most of the world now knows, an al-Qaida-led terrorist attack left 12 people dead there last Wednesday. And in a separate, related terrorist attack on Friday in Paris, four hostages were killed by a gunman at a kosher supermarket.

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A Hmong Mother's Journey to America, In Her Own Words

A Hmong Mother’s Journey to America, In Her Own Words

My mom was a great mother. She cared for my three brothers, my sister and me, and gave us lots of love, but she made the decision to remarry, leaving us with my grandma and uncles. After she left, I would [often] cry myself to sleep. My grandma would always say, “Stop crying! If your mother loved you then your mother would never have left you to live with another man.” Sometimes my grandma would hit me because I was crying too much. I missed my mom so much that one day I ran away to stay with her, but the next day my grandma and uncles took me back.

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My Civil Rights Year—Selma, Louisiana and Mrs. Caulfield’s Butterbeans

My Civil Rights Year—Selma, Louisiana and Mrs. Caulfield’s Butterbeans

The opening of the movie Selma this weekend has rekindled vivid memories for New America Media editor Paul Kleyman, who in 1965 was one of thousands of students who joined the last part of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. Fifty years later, Kleyman recalls his experiences of the march and of that summer, when he returned to the South as a civil rights worker.

At age 19, I was a sophomore in journalism at the University of Minnesota and member of Students for Civil Rights. I joined the roughly 25,000 others who bused to Selma to join the last part of the march, two weeks after Dr. King led the first and bravest group into bloody confrontation on the Edmund Petus Bridge.

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FINAL DEADLINE for the 13th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA)

FINAL DEADLINE for the 13th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (January 7, 2015) –
The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles or IFFLA’s final submission deadline is fast approaching on January 16th! This is the last chance to enter films for consideration in the 2015 festival!

IFFLA’s 2015 Grand Jury Prize winner for Best Feature will be awarded a free participation in the Carpe Diem artists-in-residence program, a retreat designed to allow artists an opportunity to create new works in a stimulating environment.

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#JeSuisCharlie? No, I’m really not Charlie Hebdo: Here’s Why

I think of myself as a staunch supporter of freedom of expression but I realize the disquieting truth that I could never publish some of the cartoons Charlie Hebdo did. It would go against every fiber of my being. But I will defend their right to exist and condemn what happened to them with every fiber of my being as well. But I just cannot say #IAmCharlieHebdo.

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S. Korean Youth Weigh in on ‘The Interview’

S. Korean Youth Weigh in on ‘The Interview’

Sony Pictures’ comedy “The Interview” is about two celebrity American journalists involved in a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Screenings for the film, which was set to be released over the holiday season, have been cancelled after threats of violence to moviegoers from a group suspected to be linked to the government in North Korea. This follows the recent assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also believed to have emanated from the communist country. The film’s cancellation has sparked a nationwide debate over whether or not it should be shown, and that debate has now spilled over into South Korea. NAM intern Yeojin Kim spoke to several young South Koreans about their thoughts on “The Interview.”

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Profile on Polish Artist Ania Gilmore

How An Illegal Immigrant Built A Successful Enterprise And Created Impact; Polish Artist Ania Gilmore

Standing in front of a group of wide-eyed Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) students, Polish-born artist Ania Gilmore coddles a book that starts on both sides called a dos-à-dos book. It’s constructed of envelopes that serve as a painful reminder to Gilmore and her family of the era of martial law that took place in Poland during the early 1980’s.

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Voice of Change: Michèle Montas, Haitian Journalist and Former U.N. Spokesperson

Voice of Change: Michèle Montas, Haitian Journalist and Former U.N. Spokesperson

Michèle Montas, still remembers her conversation with the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon when he invited her to become his spokesman “I know your story and that’s why I have chosen you,” he told her.

Montas, an award-winning Haitian radio journalist, and her husband, also a journalist, vocally fought for justice, human rights, and democracy. The couple was forced to flee the country twice to briefly live in exile in the U.S.

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Brazilian Presidential Elections Come to Somerville

Brazilian Presidential Elections Come to Somerville

With Brazilian presidential elections swiftly approaching, three Massachusetts-based Brazilian activists sat in the tiny studio of Radio BTTV in Somerville, Mass. to represent the candidates in a debate. The announcer opened by asking all three, “What can the growing population of Brazilian citizens living abroad expect from candidates?”

“Unfortunately, the present government is not remotely interested in helping those who live outside of their nation,” argued Dario Galvão, an activist from Stoughton, Mass, representing Brazil’s Socialist Party candidate, Marina Silva.

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