#JeSuisAhmed speaks back to #JeSuisCharlie on Instagram

As a response to my earlier tracking of the #CharlieHedbo memes and artwork on Instagram (see here), I conducted a similar manual archive on the #JeSuisAhmed hashtag on Instagram over six hours (9 January 15, 0600-1200hrs, GMT+8). 

I had initially chosen to trace #CharlieHedbo as opposed to #JeSuisCharlie as I had anticipated the former to provide a more neutral stream of sentiments on the event.

While there seemed to be no overt Islamophobic sentiment during the time period in which I took screenshots on Instagram, an overwhelming proportion of the posts resonated with the now viral ‘I am Charlie’ slogan. This largely backed “free speech” and defended the rights of Charlie Hedbo magazine to publish their contentious cartoons.


However, an undercurrent of solidarity soon emerged on the #JeSuisAhmed tag on Twitter and later on Instagram, as a mark of solidarity with policeman Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim Frenchmen, who was one of the two officers shot and killed in the Paris shootings (see here and here).


While many of the Instagram posts on #CharlieHedbo and #JeSuisCharlie were cross-posted on #JeSuisAhmed, a smaller number of posts popular on #JeSuisAhmed offered a more balanced, more vocal, and at times more subversive reading of the incident.

Many of these called for the separation of terrorism and religiosity, critiqued bigotry disguised as free speech, and addressed rising fears towards Islamophobia and prejudicial repercussions from the profiled suspects (see also this piece on Junkee based on this Reddit thread).

As of noon on 9 January 15, the number of Instagram posts on the three main Charlie Hedbo hashtags were as follows:

#CharlieHedbo: 296,291
#JeSuisCharlie: 804,661
#JeSuisAhmed: 3,379

This post archives some of the collective imagery formed around #JeSuisAhmed that was birthed as a response to #JeSuisCharlie.

Note: Image Heavy.
See also Memetic Tropes on #CharlieHedbo on Instagram

(1) Tributes to Ahmed Merabet 

(2) Je Suis Ahmed typography

(3) Je Suis x

(4) Muslim pride 

(5) Cautions against Islamophobia

(6) Separating religiosity from terrorism

(7) Multi-religious calls to peace

Have any other popular #JeSuisAhmed memes and tropes stood out to you? Let’s chat! Beep me!

See also:
(1) Memetic Tropes on #CharlieHedbo on Instagram
(2) The Anatomy of a Social Media(ted) Protest: #OccupyCentral on Instagram
(3) Semiotica Dramatica and a Resistance Ecology On Site: #OccupyCentral at Causeway Bay and Admiralty 

Memetic Tropes on #CharlieHedbo on Instagram

I manually archive the artwork and memes published on the #CharlieHedbo hashtag on Instagram over three hours (8 January 15, 1700-2000hrs, GMT+8) and code the memetic tropes of populism.

While much of this artwork appeared to be variations of sentiment published by the more high profile cartoonists around the world (see here and here), others were organic productions of creativity in which different symbols seemed to be competing to gain traction as the primary tropes of signification for the event. What emerges is a collective imagery that has now formed the online vernacular for the #CharlieHedbo incident.

As with popular imagery of other social movements mediated online, authorship and origins aren’t always clear, and proper attribution is seldom practiced, especially when emblems are circulating into virality within a very short period of time.


For instance, the ‘Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’ pencil art piece that was wrongly attributed to Banksy (and cross-posted on an unverified @banksy Instagram account) and widely circulated on the web was later clarified to be produced by French Illustrator @LucilleClerc.

A spokesperson for Banksy has since clarified that the Instagram account is a fake and that the art piece was not produced by the infamous street artist. Still, several other variations of this symbolism have been produced and circulated on Instagram in the last 24 hours:

The rest of this post archives some popular memetic tropes on the #CharlieHedbo hashtag on Instagram.

Note: Image Heavy.
Sequel to this post here: #JeSuisAhmed speaks back to #JeSuisCharlie on Instagram
See also my earlier archive of #OccupyCentral memes here and here.

(1) Eiffel Tower 

(2) Twin Towers

(3) French flag

(4) Liberty Leading the People

(5) Other notable Charlies in popular culture

(6) Black ribbon

(7) Crucifix imagery

(8) The four cartoonists

(9) Je Suis Charlie Typography

(10) Bleeding stationery, blood as ink

(11) Cartoons

(12) Pencil as candle light vigil

(13) Pencils in cigarette box

(14) Hand clutching pencil

(15) Pencil as/with middle finger

(16) Pencil-weapon imagery (i.e. rifles. guns, armour)

(17) Pencil-criminal imagery

(18) Pencil art 

Have any other popular #CharlieHedbo memes and tropes stood out to you? Let’s chat! Beep me!

See also:
(1) Sequel to this post here: #JeSuisAhmed speaks back to #JeSuisCharlie on Instagram
(2) The Anatomy of a Social Media(ted) Protest: #OccupyCentral on Instagram
(3) Semiotica Dramatica and a Resistance Ecology On Site: #OccupyCentral at Causeway Bay and Admiralty