Hello Will Smith, remember Charlie?

January 2015 - terrorists entered the offices of the satire paper in Paris and killed 12 people for a joke.

Raphaël Reiter
3 min readApr 4, 2022

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Will slaps Je suis Charlie — Montage by myself

I remember that day vividly, for I was a student in Paris at the time. January 2015 was the start of a movement that we all said we would never forget, that we have all forgotten.
You probably have memories of people’s Facebook profile pictures with frames, black pictures, and slogans of “Je Suis Charlie.”

Charlie Hebdo was a popular french paper that published a lot of satire and dark humor. Dark humor is ingrained in French culture. It’s how people get over themselves and the difficult things of life. It’s also how we used to do politics.

There is a French saying: “Il vaut mieux en rire qu’en pleurer,” meaning it is better to laugh about it than cry about it. That is valid for every subject. Race, homosexuality, poverty, war, illness, politics, religions, you name it, we laughed about it.

My friends and I were all from different backgrounds, races, and origins. We made jokes about each other all the time that today would be more than frowned upon. We all laughed. We were close. They made fun of me for being a jew, too. I laughed with them. We were close. We were not fans of the society we lived in, so we laughed about it. That is a healthy way to cope with adversity.

I used to say that the only advantage of being born Jewish is that making antisemitic jokes was my birthright. That right has recently been taken away from me.

Back to Charlie. January 2015. The paper published a joke, making a caricature of the “prophet” Muhammad. The people that didn’t like it stepped on their stage and shot 12 people dead.

Let me be clear about one crucial thing: I do not give a shit about Will Smith, Chris Rock, and the Oscars. I don’t understand or want to understand this obsession people have in front of Hollywood celebrities, and their feeling inadequate for not being them is deeply sad. But I don’t live in a cave; I saw the trending tweet and had a peek.

The first thing that came into my mind was: who the hell cares about this? Why am I reading these stupid tweets? So I closed my browser and…

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Raphaël Reiter

Continuously learning about life. Passionate about philosophy. Certified life coach and meditation teacher.