French film director, writer, and producer Luc Besson, winner of Best Director and Best French Director for his sci-fi action film The Fifth Element, and created imaginative, action-filled movies like Nikita, Léon: The Professional and The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, is probably more familiar with the exciting presentation of violence than most artists. His message to young French Muslims is, therefore, more unique and imaginative than most of what has been written after the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher Market attacks.
My brother, if you knew how badly I hurt for you today, you and your beautiful religion that has been so sullied, humiliated, and singled out. Forgotten your strength, your energy, your humour, your heart, your fraternity. It’s unfair and together we will repair this injustice. We are millions who love you and who are going to help you. Let’s start at the beginning. What is the society we’re offering you today?
It’s based on money, profit, segregation and racism. In some suburbs, unemployment for people under 25 is 50 per cent. You are marginalized because of your color or your first name. You’re questioned ten times a day, you’re crowded into apartment blocks and no one represents you. Who could live and thrive under such conditions?
Profit comes before all else. We cut and sell the apple tree’s branches and then are shocked there’s no fruit. The real problem is there, and that’s for all of us to resolve.
I call on the powerful, the big bosses and all leaders. Help this youth that has been humiliated and which asks only to be part of society. The economy is in the service of man and not the reverse. To do good is the greatest of profits. Dear powerful, do you have children? Do you love them? What do you want to leave them? Money? Why not a world that’s more fair? That would make your children the most proud of you.
We cannot build our happiness on the misfortune of others. It is neither Christian, nor Jewish, nor Muslim. It is just selfish and it leads our society and our planet straight into a wall. This is the work we have to do beginning today to honor our dead.
Terrorism will never win.
And you, my brother, you also have a job to do. How can you change this society that’s being offered to you? By working, by studying, by taking up a pencil rather than a Kalashnikov. That’s what’s good about democracy; it offers you the noble tools to defend yourself. Take your destiny in hand, take the power. It costs 250 euros to buy a Kalashnikov but not even three euros to buy a pen — and your response can have a thousand times more impact. Take the power, and play by the rules.
Take power democratically, helped by all your brothers. Terrorism will never win. History is there to prove it. And the beautiful image of the martyr walking in both directions. Today there are a thousand [assassinated Charlie Hebdo journalists] Cabus and Wolinskis who have just been born.
Take the power and don’t let anyone take power over you. If those who are presumed guilty of this tragedy really are, know that these two blood-spilling brothers are not yours, and we all know it.
It would at most be two weak-minded individuals; abandoned by society and then abused by a preacher who sold them eternity… Radical preachers who play on and make your misfortune their business have no good intentions. They use your religion only to their advantage. It is their business, their small business. Tomorrow, my brother, we will be stronger, more connected, closer. I promise you. But today, my brother, I cry with you.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2015.