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Bastille Day Massacre And Je Suis Charlie

Updated on March 5, 2017
Salah Abdeslam, one of the suspects of the November 13, 2015 shooting at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris that killed 130 people was arrested in Belgium on March 18, 2016.
Salah Abdeslam, one of the suspects of the November 13, 2015 shooting at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris that killed 130 people was arrested in Belgium on March 18, 2016. | Source

2016 Bastille Day Nice France

The 2016 Bastille Day (14 July), will go down in history as the day when Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a French citizen of Tunisian descent mowed down people who were celebrating Bastille Day on Promenade des Anglais, in Nice, France.

He shot them from a rented truck he was driving and Nice police killed him in return. The death toll on 15 July was 84. No one knows his motives but France has labelled his actions as a terror attack.


The killing of 12 people in the Charlie Hebdo newspaper office in Paris on 7 January ushered in the 2015 debate about terrorism.

Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, the brothers identified for the Paris killings are dead and buried in secret graves, but that does not end there.

After the Mumbai killings in India on 26 November 2008, which saw the killing of civilians in places like the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station and the Taj Hotel, Arundhati Roy, an Indian journalist wrote:

In today's world, trying to pin down the provenance of a terrorist strike and isolate it within the borders of a single nation state is very much like trying to pin down the provenance of corporate money. It's almost impossible.

Bollywood and Terrorism

Internal state terror, foreign policy terror, slavery terror, colonialism terror, capitalism terror, religious terror and terror against women has always ended up as movies. Some are based on real life like the Charlie Hebdo and related killings. Others are purely from script writers’ imagination.

Bollywood filmmakers use big budgets to tell terrorism stories in their country and abroad. Actors such as Sony Deol love film projects like Hero, which show brave agents that fight terrorism against India.

My Name is Khan and Kurbaan are just two of many Bollywood films about terrorism.

They are sister films for many reasons. Both were produced by Karan Johar and are set in the United States.

They are also two sides of the same coin: the act of terror itself (Kurbaan 2009) and the reaction or backlash against anybody who ‘looks like’ terrorists (My Name is Khan 2010).

Kurbaan Director, Renzil D’Silva

The movie identifies certain ingredients that make terror possible.

  • A cause (it is called a ‘cause’ because it can be a cause of death e.g. suicide bombers)

  • Loyalty to the family

  • Languages only understood by family and community

  • Long range planning and secrecy

  • Buy-in by businessmen and academic people like school teachers and professors

  • Technology and science experts

Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan in the 2009 movie Kurbaan.
Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan in the 2009 movie Kurbaan. | Source

Kurbaan Synopsis

Avantika (Kareena Kapoor) meets Ehsaan (Saif Ali Khan) at Delhi University. They get married and go to the United States, where she is based.

Ehsaan finds them a house where their neighbours are also Indian. What Avantika doesn’t know is that her colleague at Delhi University and the new neighbours are part of a plot that will wreak havoc in the United States.

Ehsaan finds a job as a university professor. There is a scene where his class debates terrorism. Some students are so incensed they advocate that terrorists should stay in their own countries.

Ehsaan does not show any emotion at all, and it doesn’t click to people in the cinema because they do not know Ehsaan’s motive yet.

A woman is killed across the street and Riyaaz, an undercover journalist (Vivek Oberoi) asks Avantika some questions. The movie concentrates on men in that house. It therefore comes as a shock that the person who controls the plan and the explosives is the older woman Jaanu (Kirron Kher).

My Name is Khan

Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) and Karan Johar have one message in their movie My Name is Khan. ‘My name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist.’

Rizvan Khan (SRK), who has autism, directs this to the people of the United States who blame him for the World Trade Centre bombings in New York and Pentagon bombings on September 11, 2001.

Khan had a painful childhood in India because of autism. The only ray of sunshine was his mother who told him that the world has good people and bad ones.

Later on in life his brother sponsors him to the United States, where he falls in love with Mandira, a hairdresser (Kajol) who lives with her son Sameer, played by Yuvaan Makar.

They get married and she changes her son’s name from Rathore to Khan. They are living happily with their white neighbours in Banville, a small U.S. town when 9/11 happened. Sameer is violently beat up at school and Sarah, Mandira’s white neighbour turns against her.

The film is about how Rizvan Khan travels across the United States to find the president so that he can tell him that My Name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist.


Backpacks used to be associated with mountain climbing and other outdoor sports. Not anymore. There are backpacks especially designed for cameras and accessories, for computers, picnics, medical supplies, everything.

They are in the subway, buses, health centres. Young and old carry them, but they can be a problem for people perceived as ‘terrorists.’

The two films use backpacks as symbols of terror. In Kurbaan, Jaanu and her team of women enter the subway carrying backpacks full of explosives.

In My Name is Khan, Rizvan is manhandled because of his backpack.

Charlie Hebdo Backlash

News about people taking the law into their own hands, against people who look like Muslims are coming in every minute.

Algerians might be badly hit because Chérif and Saïd Kouachi were French citizens of Algerian descent. There is a scene in My Name is Khan where someone cries that he is not a Muslim.

The problem with mob justice is that it is riddled with ignorance and is based on physical appearance. Inflammatory statements like the following can lead to injury and loss of life and subsequent retaliation.

  1. He looks like a terrorist.

  2. She dresses like a terrorist.

  3. She belongs to that religion so she was responsible for 9/11 in the United States, the Mumbai attacks on 26 November 2008, and Charlie Hebdo.

The lucky ones might have a chance to reason with anger and say, My Name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist.


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    • bonda profile imageAUTHOR

      Nonqaba waka Msimang 

      3 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for reading. Yes. Ignorance, hatred and greed couched in religious dogma will kill us all. Can we afford a third world war? I don't think so.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent Hub, Bonda. One of the largest problems in this world is that people do not try to get to know other groups and simply react to incidents out of pre-conceived notions. Ignorance and hatred are bred out of these conditions which could be easily solved by getting to know Others and developing some empathy. I wish and hope that this empathy could become the rule in this world and not the exception. Thank you for this insightful piece.


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