The identification of the French police officer shot at point blank range in Wednesday’s terrorist attack as a Muslim, Ahmed Merabet, has sparked an online conversation about the experiences of ethnic and religious minorities in France.
Echoing the #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie) hashtag which went viral Wednesday in a show of solidarity for the newspaper’s victims, the hashtag #JeSuisAhmed is now gathering momentum online. Several have used it to point out that a Muslim man died defending a newspaper’s right to free speech, even when it had a history of mocking his own religion.
A tweet by Arab political activist Dyab Abou Jahjah, below, was retweeted over 4,000 times within four hours on Thursday:
Others have joined the Twitter conversation through the #JeNeSuisPasCharlie (I am not Charlie) hashtag, arguing that Charlie Hebdo‘s cartoons are not to be condoned, despite Wednesday’s attacks. Many of them condemned the murders but criticized what they saw as the newspaper’s racism, sexism and Islamophobia.
At the same time, in a display of solidarity with Muslims in the aftermath of the attack, the French have started tweeting #voyageavecmoi (ride with me). Inspired by #illridewithyou,which began trending in Australia after a terrorist took hostages in a Sydney café in December, French social media users have begun tweeting their journey routes to help local Muslims feel safe from potential backlash following the attack.