It might be hard to believe today, but in the eight years or so that preceded the day when gunmen went into its office, calling, "Where's Charb? Where's Charb?" before indiscriminately killing the editor and several staffers, I had thought of Charlie Hebdo with some envy. The staffers had gone to court and won their cases; two of France's premiers had backed them on the right to continue being offensive in the same decade when we in India had lost the right to offend. They had been able to exercise a freedom that many Indians had not been able to claim.
If Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is expecting the United States to deliver the $1.3 billion in annual military assistance without any delays or restrictions, he may be in for a "rude awakening," as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez said during a hearing on Egypt earlier this month.
The ongoing debate between of what constitutes an artistic expression of free speech versus religious protection had recently been witnessed not in the public eye, but instead under the radar on social media. And the stirred-up controversy had been with none other than America's beloved pop music star Katy Perry.