Opinion: Oblivious (Charlie Hebdo)

POSTED: 01/20/15 7:12 PM

The new Charlie Hebdo that is published today in France has the French side of the island in its grip, but its Dutch-side neighbors remain completely oblivious to the fact that the world is eagerly looking forward to the stand the remaining editors of the magazines will make with their first publication after terrorists killed a handful of their colleagues last week in Paris.

Maison de la Presse, a bookstore in Marigot, has ordered close to one thousand copies of Charlie. That number may not seem all that outrageous, but it makes clear how the French value their freedom of expression if one compares it with the total number of copies Betapress imports for the whole of the Netherlands: a meager 500.

On the Dutch side entrepreneurs do not seem to have closed Charlie into their hearts. The first employee we spoke to at Le Grand Marché in Cole Bay – that focuses a large part of its service on French-side customers, did not know anything and referred us to customer service. The girl we spoke to looked at us as if we were speaking Chinese. To cut a long story short – she did not know anything either. So much for keeping up with current events.

A younger colleague however, sprinted to his manager and came back with the message that Charlie would probably arrive next week. So much for anticipating customer-demand.

That does it: Charlie Hebdo does not live here, we headlined last week and the rather lackluster reaction at Le Grand Marché sealed it.

We’ve let our flags fly full-mast, while our French neighbors mourned and our government has not made a single public statement to express its sympathy with the victims of the terror attack or to make a stand for the freedom of expression.

The upside of tragedies like the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack is that it makes at least clear where everybody stands on issues that really matter. In Dutch St. Maarten, we’re standing nowhere.

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