Three years since Mohamed Merah’s attacks in Toulouse. A month since Charlie Hebdo’s attacks in Paris. A week since the attacks in Copenhagen. The authors of these attacks were all Muslim and medias have been walking on eggshells. Journalists are trying really hard not to mix the terrorists’ religion and their acts. They really are trying hard, but I guess too hard and the only thing they received from that was mockery. #PADAMALGAM was born.
The slang PADAMALGAM comes from the sentence pas d’amalgame, which, in English, means no conflation. It is used to mock French media coverage on terrorists’ attacks and a feeling of political correctness. Basically, it means that media are quick to dismiss any relationship between the culprits’ religion and their acts.
To explain it in a simple way, the Huffington Post made a cartoon of this feeling in which we see a spokesperson saying, “The use of a Yamaha scooter does not involve in any way the implication of Japanese”.
Even if it appeared for the first time in 2010, it was only in 2012 with the Mohamed Merah’s shooting on a Jewish school, that it became a hashtag and was posted on Twitter. It appeared again following Paris’ and Copenhagen’s attacks. The popularity of this slang rose again: 24 hours after the shootings in Denmark, the hashtag was used more than 600 times in France.
So is it just a way for Internet users to point out what the media is trying to hide, or is it more a way of expressing a radical Islamophobia?
The French magazine Le Monde wrote an article on the subject denouncing an explosion of Islamophobia and a call for hatred. But is it really what it is calling for? I won’t lie and say that there are no islamophobic comments. There are a lot of them and they can be very harsh against Islam. It is also true that some people just want to express their hatred. But that’s not it, some people just want to make fun of the way the media try not to lump together terrorists and Muslim.
This is not an easy subject and it is definitively a risky one to talk about, especially on social medias. It is also hard to write about it because it is not a simple issue. It is complex and I don’t know and understand everything. So I will just write what I think from what I have read and what I have understood from that.
I believe that it started out just as a way to make fun of the media coverage and that there was no real hatred and only humour, but that was the beginning. Since then more and more attacks took place and the hatred against Islam has only been growing. I can’t really explain why some people need to blame it on a whole community. I don’t know if that makes them feel better or if it helps them to mourn. I don’t really understand why some people have so much hate in them and why do they need to express it online; but they do.
Maybe I’m too young to understand, maybe I haven’t seen enough of the world to actually relate to their views.
Maybe. Maybe too young. Maybe too naïve.
I believe that the hashtag was a way for certain people to express some hatred with a background of humour. I believe that because the more journalists are going to try hard not to mix up the links between facts, the more the public will respond on social media. We know that there is a link between the religion and the attacks. Everyone knows that and refusing to talk about it is not going to make it disappear.
I believe that what medias have to do is educate the people, they have to tell us the truth: yes they were Muslim and they shouted ‘Inch ‘Allah” when they ran away. But that’s not it, they also have to explain that yes they did it in the name of Islam; or at least what they thought was Islam.
As long as the population, like me, don’t know what are the real values of Islam, many people will not think about it, they will just assume that if they did it in the name of Islam then it means that every Muslim think the same way and so they are all capable of doing the same thing. As long as the people don’t know better, they will just assume that they know. They don’t.
The media is there to fill in the gaps: to educate us and tell us what we should know to be able to make our mind. It should explain the difference between the terrorists’ vision of Islam and the Muslim’s vision. It’s only when people know that they can really decide what they want to think about an issue. If they have no knowledge of a concern, they are not really able to make their mind about it. However I am sure that if people knew, a lot would change.
I would assume that Padamalgam was created by people who wanted to point out a issue in the media coverage, but by being brought on social networks, it made it become something more than just a simple mockery.