"Je Suis Charlie" and Baga Massacre

by: Nino Pepito

Je Suis Charlie

On January 7 2015, two Islamist gunmen forced their way into the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo and opened fire, killing twelve. Supporters of free speech used the slogan "Je suis Charlie" (French for "I am Charlie") against the shooting. The slogan identifies the speaker with those who died at the Charlie Hebdo shooting, and by extension for freedom of speech and resistance to armed threats. It was used as the hashtag "#jesuischarlie" on Twitter, as printed or hand-made placards, and displayed on mobile phones at vigils, and on many websites, particularly media sites such as Le Monde. Je suis Charlie quickly trended at the top of Twitter hashtags worldwide following the attack. The United States Embassy in Paris changed its Twitter profile picture to the "Je suis Charlie" placard.

Baga Massacre

Also on January 7 2015, Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist movement in Nigeria, moved into the town of Baga in the state of Borno and slaughtered more than 2000 people. The attack began on 3 January when Boko Haram overran a military base that was the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force containing troops from Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. The militants then forced thousands of locals from the region and committed mass killings that culminated on the 7th.

Evaluation and Relationship Between the Events

Coverage of the Baga Massacre was shrouded from the mass media for an extended period of time. In the wake of the Baga massacre, anger and frustration was not extended towards major broadcasting channels such as ABC or CNN, but rather at the heart of the capital of Nigeria itself, Abuja. Nigerian leader himself, Goodluck Jonathen, had called the crisis in Paris a "dastardly terrorist attack" while refraining from making any comment on the events happening near home. Busy with his own campaign for re-election at the time, Jonathen neglected the killings, only sending for help almost a month after the incident. On a state level, Borno's loll army and the nearby Multinational Joint Task Force base had little to no resistance to the waves of terrorist that quickly overcame the town. The only hope the people of Baga had lay snug and tucked away in the hands of its country's leader, not the state.

Local and State

Local authorities and officials of the state of Borno are not really at fault due to the weakness of local militia and speed of the invading jihad terrorist. The only small instance of this is that soldiers at the nearby MJTF base fled in fear at first signs of an attack.


Actions taken by Goodluck Jonathen during and in response to the massacre happening in his country show that the issue lies on the Federal level. His neglection towards the event has been described by several opinions around the world as a "horrible show of leadership". Direction of Nigerian national media was pointed towards a country across the Mediterranian instead of the happenings in Borno.

Presence of Federalism

Federalism, in this case, has proven to be a hindrance to the victims and residents of Baga. Nigeria is not a poor country at all, possessing the largest economy in its' respective continent and an army of proportional measure. President Jonathen certainly had the power to at least lessen the damages, but instead was busy with his own necessities, including posting pictures of his niece's wedding on Facebook at the same time as the incident. The local and state authorities were not capable of fending off Boko Haram, as indicated by the kidnapping of the schoolgirls that happened in only the previous year.