In South Asia, say 'Je suis Charlie' at your own risk

In South Asia, say 'Je suis Charlie' at your own risk
A man holds a card that reads "We are all against barbarism, we are Charlie Hedbo" to pay tribute to the victims of a shooting by gunmen at the offices of French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Attacks on staff at Charlie Hebdo and shoppers at a kosher supermarket in Paris this month have left Europe stunned and uneasy. Many felt, while they mourned, that this type of attack could happen again.

Then it did. Only two days after the satirical magazine's two main attackers were killed Jan. 9, the office of the Hamburger Morgenpost in Germany was firebombed. The paper was attacked for publishing satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Security forces throughout Europe are on alert for further attacks.

Most of the world watched the events in Paris unfold in horror. In South Asia, however, the news was greeted with relative indifference, or even outright support for the attackers. Why did reactions in South Asia differ to those in much of the rest of the world?

Sadly, attacks on journalists in South Asia, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, are frequent and deadly. Pakistan often ranks as the most dangerous country in the world to practice journalism; Afghanistan is not far behind. Being a journalist in Bangladesh is also dangerous, though lethal attacks are less frequent.

Karl Kaltenthaler is a professor of political science at the University of Akron and adjunct professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University.

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