Not really. No one cares if I’m Charlie or not. Al-Baghdadi, or whoever, himself would smile and roll his eyes and go ‘yeah mate, you’re Charlie’. ‘Excuse me but I am Charlie’ I’d insist in a squeaky voice. ‘Ok, you’re Charlie’ he’d reply, looking at his watch. ‘Listen, I’ve got to split’ he’d say, ‘but you’re Charlie yeah?’ I’d aim a scoffing smile at him acknowledging his piss-taking, but my stomach would be dropping. ‘Yeah’ I’d say, with whatever defiance I could muster. ‘Alright dude, I’ll speak to you later’ I’d hear him shout from the hall then, and the front door would bang shut. Fuck, I’d think, sinking into the sofa.
The BBC was funny on the day of the sieges. They immediately followed the hysteria of that main story with the news that Abu Hamza, the mad cleric with hooks for hands, has finally been imprisoned and won’t see the light of day again. It really felt like they were sticking the finger up to radical islamism. I didn’t see it but apparently they also showed a cartoon of Muhammad, summarily doing away with their years-long policy of not showing images of Muhammad under any circumstances. They just needed someone else, France, to take the initiative. It was like the time back in school when I saw a couple of kids bullying another kid walking in front of me and my friend and I wasn’t sure what to do, until this sports star guy from my year caught up with them and told them to cut it out, and I backed him up with a weak ‘yeah’.