French Honor Society hosts academic panel reflecting terrorist attacks

Pi Delta Phi, UT’s French Honor Society, held an academic panel in the Howard H. Baker Jr. center on Thursday, Oct. 29, to reflect on the aftermath and ramifications of a deadly terror attack in France earlier this year.

// Photo by Thomas Delgado

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Pi Delta Phi, UT’s French Honor Society, held an academic panel in the Howard H. Baker Jr. center on Thursday, Oct. 29, to reflect on the aftermath and ramifications of a deadly terror attack in France earlier this year.

Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical weekly newspaper known for its cartoons, reports and jokes about right wing politics, religion and culture. On January 7, 2015, two gunmen forced their way into the offices of the newspaper in Paris. They killed 11 people and injured 11 people in the building. The gunmen identified themselves as belonging to an Islamist terrorist group.

This incited related attacks in France that lasted for three days and a total of 17 people were killed and many others were injured.

André Benhaïm, a native of France and a current professor at Princeton University was welcomed to speak about Jews, Muslims and the French hospitality.

“I will say very little Charlie Hebdo per say. I will say next to nothing- actually nothing about the caricatures. I will say nothing about the actual journal,” he said after he was introduced.

He did talk about the almost 4 million people marching in the streets in response to the acts of terror that unsettled the country.

“These attacks were the deadliest acts of terror since 1961,” Benhaïm explained. He then went on to speak about the history of France’s relationship with foreigners and the laws of hospitality.

After Benhaïm spoke, he took questions from the audience. Topics that were discussed included the status of secularity in France and the representation of Jewish and Muslim people in the French mainstream media. According to Benhaïm, “the mainstream [media] in France focuses on a discourse that is conservative and to the far right.”

A discussion and Q&A panel was held. Panelists included some of UT’s faculty. Margaret Anderson (History), Rosalind Hackett (Religious Studies) and Peter Gross (Journalism and Electronic Media) took questions from the audience about their opinions on things such as the status of blasphemy in a multicultural media age, censorship in the media and the difficulty for many Americans to understand the Charlie Hebdo tragedy.

To learn more about Andre Benhaïm, click here.

For more information on UT’s French Honor Society, click here.

Featured Image by Thomas Delgado

Edited by Jessica Carr