Vigil in Lille for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack
Vigil in Lille for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack

Yesterday’s shootings at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo magazine are a heart-breaking tragedy. First, and above all, they are a tragedy for those killed and injured, and for their families and friends.

Human life is precious. It is not to be taken just in order to make a point.

A photograph shows journalists in the AFP newsroom in Paris holding “Je suis Charlie Hebdo” placards. There are similar placards on the streets of cities around the world.

But I am not Charlie Hebdo.         

Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine. It sometimes satirises Islam. It also deals satirically with other religions, and with other topics besides religion. I have glanced at Charlie Hebdo once in a while when it has caught the headlines, but I am not a fan, and in any case I don’t read French very fluently. So I am in a poor position to judge the balance between the magazine’s various targets, or the way it would appear to a regular reader.

But I can’t help noticing that the material dealing with Islam repeats motifs that are staples of islamophobia. The edition that provoked a fire-bombing in November 2011 was published under the title Charia Hebdo. What’s amusing about that, unless the mere mention of the word sharia gives you a giggle? On the cover there was a cartoon of a mad-eyed man, apparently meant to be the Prophet Mohammed, saying “100 Whip Lashes If You Don’t Die Of Laughter.” How might people still recovering from French colonial rule in North Africa feel about seeing draconian corporal punishment presented in France as their cultural norm?

The editor-in-chief of that edition of Charlie Hebdo was said to be “Mahomet.” The edition was published in mock celebration of the victory of the Islamic Renaissance Movement (Ennahda)  in the Tunisian General election. The October 2011 election was first free one to be held in Tunisia and was an early fruit of the Arab Spring of that year.

Previously, in 2007, Charlie Hebdo had re-published the notorious cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that had caused outrage when published by a Danish paper in 2005.

For the moment, let’s set the Prophet Mohammed and the religion of Islam aside and consider the people – Muslims – who are targeted by this sort of material.

I am not especially fastidious about humour that relies on the supposed characteristics of this or that group of people. Gentle or cruel, offbeat or stereotypical, humour can shed a wry light on some of the quirks of daily life. Jokes on the pattern “there was an Englishman, an Irishmen and a Scotsman…” are a well-mined vein and they aren’t always unfunny. But in the 1970s and 1980s, when people of Irish descent were being harassed and interrogated by the police at British ports, and people in Northern Ireland were being interned and tortured, humour of this sort needed a careful touch.

It wasn’t rocket science. Jokes that might bring a smile to the faces of English and Irish people who stood in solidarity with each other were OK. Jokes that were likely to give oxygen to anti-Irish hatred, or reinforce the otherness being imposed on Irish people, were not OK.

Causing offence ought not to be a crime. But quite often, material that is glibly criticised for causing offence is actually doing something much more serious. It is propaganda directed at those who won’t be offended by it, for the purpose of either inciting hatred against others, or dis-empowering them. The rich and powerful are fit subjects for satire. Dis-empowered, they become a little less dangerous to the rest of us. The disadvantaged and the relatively powerless are not fit targets. Dis-empowered, they fall victim to violence, abuse, genocide.

Needless to add, it is much, much harder for satire to make a mark on the powerful than on the powerless. To disguise an attack on people who are already in a tight corner beneath an indiscriminate tirade against others who are far beyond your range is a dirty trick if you understand what you are doing, and a bad misjudgement if you do not.

Those who defend the kind of material published by Charlie Hebdo often pose as dragon-slayers. For them, it seems, Islam is a powerful institution, even in Europe. They make-believe that satirising Islam is like satirising the CBI, or the British Army, or the Royal Family, or the Bilderberg Group. If they are sincere about this, they need to open their eyes.

The front page of today’s Times calls the attack on Charlie Hebdo an “attack on freedom”. For the Guardian it is an “assault on democracy.” For the Daily Mail, it is a “war on freedom.”

It is being sold everywhere as an attack on freedom of expression and journalism. If the attack was either of those things, it was a pinprick. The torture and jailing of Chelsea Manning, the arrest of journalists in Egypt and Turkey, and the long hounding of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are serious attacks on journalism. The attack on Charlie Hebdo was not. It was, of course, a truly serious attack on some people, and was tragic for that reason.

Like the wave of disgust against the Islamic State, the outpouring of sympathy for the Charlie Hebdo staff is already being manipulated to produce a consensus likely to favour more repression of Muslims in Europe and, eventually, more aggression by the US, Britain and their allies in the Middle East. That is the real “assault on democracy.”

The main political parties in France, including those on the left, have been systematically hostile to Muslims. There were signs in the last few months of change for the better on the French left. It will truly be a tragedy if that process is scuppered.

I was not Charlie Hebdo the day before yesterday, and I am not Charlie Hebdo today. All those connected with the magazine have my sympathy for their human loss, but I cannot give my support or respect to their work.

Photo: Michel G

6 thoughts on “I am not Charlie Hebdo

  1. This argument would carry weight if the attackers had shouted out that they were avenging the crass, stereotyped images of their people, i.e the Hebdo attack might be seen as a tragedy, rather than an attack on freedom. The killers shouted that they were avenging the prophet. They were avenging, therefore, an insult to their beliefs. My beliefs, as a teacher, are routinely insulted; my ‘people’, women, are often portrayed in stereotypical and demeaning images – would I react with such violence? No. Would I shut down The Daily Mail or The Sun if I could? No. Because as soon as we disallow the right to an opinion – however misguided – we are disallowing our own right to speak. There is a man in Saudia Arabia being flogged for establishing a Liberal website/blog – it was not inflammatory.

    This was certainly an attack on freedom, and its insidiousness, the fear it creates, is frightening.

    At any length, rather than debating if this was ‘tragedy’ or ‘an attack on freedom’, we have to agree that it is totally unacceptable, it’s happened and how are we going to stop it from happening again. That’s the challenge, and that’s where our energy must be concentrated. We don’t have time to start arguing amongst ourselves about terminology. That, to my mind, is a middle-class luxury.

  2. I did not say that the murders were OK because they were a response to racism, and I do not think they would have been OK if the attackers had used the language of secular anti-racism instead of religious language. However, I believe that the material published by Charlie Hebdo tends to promote attitudes and justify government policies that are deeply damaging and destructive, and are extremely difficult to challenge because they have enormous state and cultural power on their side.

    To say that propaganda can have consequences at least serious as those resulting from an act of violence is not to say that it is the same kind of thing as violence, or requires the same kind of response as violence. That’s the view of the US Government when it drone-assassinates supposed al Qaeda propagandists; it’s not my view. Cultural/political aggression requires a cultural/political response. My response to Charlie Hebdo’s cultural aggression is to say “I am not Charlie Hebdo”, to discourage others from producing similar material, and to discourage others from circulating Charlie Hebdo’s islamophobic images.

    In the same way, if someone were to commit a crime in retaliation against sexist material, I would not respond by circulating sexist material in “solidarity” with the victims, or by saying “I am the Sun”. I would continue to discourage the creation and publication of such material. I would also continue – without denying the primary claims on justice and compassion by the immediate victims of the crime – to regard sexism as a larger problem than the crime itself.

    I do not think that the murders will have a chilling effect on journalism or freedom of expression that comes anywhere close to the chilling effect already produced by anti-terrorism laws and related government policies. If there were indeed to be a slightly increased reticence in publishing material critical of Islam (though I doubt there will be), it would not be anywhere near so damaging to democracy and the just conduct of public affairs as the effect produced by the draconian punishment and pursuit of whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

    Also, I fear that the murders will be used to justify still greater government restrictions on freedom of expression (an early sign of this is the attempt by former French minister Jeanette Bougrab to hold the PIR partly responsible for the attacks because of its stand against islamophobia).

    So I think it is wildly inappropriate to treat the attack as a serious threat to freedom of expression. Our energies in defence of this freedom need to be directed elsewhere, in opposition to government repression.

  3. Dear Richard

    This is a very late reply to your original article and your reply to the previous comment. Apologies if it has all gone off the boil a bit.

    This whole story has left me in an emotional turmoil. Hezbollah have expressed more solidarity with Charlie than the British Left, proof that the world has surely gone mad. Iran are now desperately trying to put out feelers to the west regarding some kind of alliance against the lunatic takfiris because they fear the rise of their caliphate and what that will mean for all Shias in the region. Their recently resurrected Holocaust cartoon competition is their way of showing solidarity with more freedom to offend, not less – as well as being an obvious sop to those xealots within Iran who would distrust too much embracing of a purely western take on freedom of expression.

    I am a huge supporter of Julian Assange and of Edward Snowden. As a leftist I admire Assange the most – he is a humane man, a social libertarian, but not an economic one like Snowden. I am no supporter of the surveillance state, of the terrorism act, or of many of the policies of the west. Assange, in marked distinction from Greenwald, for instance , is a very rounded and nuanced thinker and has a better understanding of the larger picture. i think you’ll find that he fully supported Hebdo and that while he supports Cage Prisoner on many issues, he is not a fan of their political creed. His questioning of Begg and Qreshi on stoning for adultery under Sharia law a while back was very telling and his distaste for their reply was evident. It is not only possible, but actually vital to be able to oppose injustice wherever we see it, not just in one area, .and Assange does this. Interestingly, the one criticism he did allow himself of Hebdo, was triggered in response to Max Hastings’ ridiculous claim that he had facilitated the cartoonists deaths by compromising security. Assange hit back with the suggestion that the jewish pro cenorship lobby (Hastings is well known for his uncritical support for Israel and for this lobby) that led to withdrawal of antisemitic cartoons left them vulnerable to being percieved as biased and therefore a justifiable target. So Assange, the most able opponent of the surveillance state, wanted Hebdo to publish more offensive cartoons, not less of them.

    Your comment about injuring the sensibilities of those trying to recover from post colonial trauma staggered me. You show a real lack of knowledge of both North African and modern french society in this, as well as in your contention that Hebdo had no right to lampoon islamism around the time of the Tunisian elections. The Maghreb is not Pakistan. French colonialism saw the french left forge a powerful bond with the left in North Africa to overthrow it. There is much more of a partnership of equals in France between french of european and those of muslim heritage because of this. The battle in North Africa between violent islamists and non islamist civilians was,as you know, particularly vicious, and has scarred the psyche of many muslims much more recently than western colonialism. Who’s post colonial outlook should we support in France – the islamist one or the secularist one? There is a real ideological war going on between muslims themselves in france. Charbonnier’s partner, an Algerian, was on the secular side, and Charbonnier saw it as a moral imperative to take sides with fellow secularists. Notably, this side is not the one threatening those who offend them with summary execution.

    I recently reread Salam Pax the Baghdad Bloggers book with the preface by Samuel P Huntingdon. Mohamed Abdulenamun humbles me with his blog – and with this preface.

    ‘The West won the world, not by the superiority of it’s ideas or values or religion but rather by it’s superiority in applying organzed violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-westerners never do.’

    All westerners should know this quote. The blogger and muslim who chose this quote is an ardent secularist.

    I do not have a superiority complex and I do not see muslims as a homogenous mass. I do not see secularism as the sole preserve of the west either . Muslims all over the world are fighting a very difficult literal and ideological battle against right wing religious extremists. Many here seem prepared to pull up the ideological drawbridge and do not condemn their murderers enough out of a kind of misplaced and really quite arrogant cultural relativism. Those who had refuge from execution for blasphemy in the west, post Salman Rushdie, found that not only were they now under threat of death, but that many of those who they expected to be their staunchest supporters, deserted them. This failure does not only affect muslim intellectuals who wish to question or ridicule islam, it has serious implications for ordinary muslims too. It has left a vacuum for the facists of our own right to flourish in. Charlie were multitaskers in a way that the left here have forgotten how to be. They stood up to the right wing facists of Le Pen and they stood up to the clerical facists of islam. The Algerian lefitst academic Karima Bennoune, and countless others supported Hebdo fully, as do the majority of muslims in France. Charlie fought the good fight. To characterise their deaths as a ‘pinprick’ of an assault on freedom of expression in comparison with the draconian measures taken by states in the west is insulting to every single muslim in the world today who cannot express doubts about their religion for tear of death and puts the safety of Moazzem Begg above that of people like Raif Badawi. We should be able to protect the rights of both of them to freedom of expression without fear of contradiction. I have to agree with Kenan Malik’s take on how we have truly fallen into moral incoherence.

  4. Richard

    I have been watching you speak on Independence Live. It’s very important to make the point, firstly that Western policies in the ME produce a hostile reaction amongst Moslem communities, and also that both the hate campaigns of Charlie Hebdo and the response after the Paris events serve to work for the ‘war on terror’, the destruction of Iraq and Syria and the Palestinian catastrophe – as you say, there is nothing hypocritical about Netanyahu’s stance.

    However in some environments it is easier to concentrate on the hypocritical nature of the response. I hope you don’t mind if I reproduce something I wrote for Wings over Scotland as a response to their ‘Not everyone is Charlie’ article.

    Let me spell out why the ‘Je suis Charlie’ campaign is so deeply, deeply hypocritical.

    1) Charlie Hebdo does not believe in free speech: they sacked Mona Chollet for questioning Val, the person who resurrected CH in the 90s, for sneering at the ‘uncivilised’ Palestinians; they sacked Siné for ‘antisemitism’ because of a joke he made about the son of the French PM. What Charlie Hebdo believe in is selective racism.

    2) Free speech is not a special part of French culture as French contributors would have us believe. Siné is on trial for antisemitism as we speak. Nobody, NOBODY, is prepared to comment on the irony of this.

    3) I don’t know of any country in the world that condones hate campaigns, at least against Jews and other ‘sensitive’ minorities. In Austria, you are not even allowed to question the number of people who died in the Holocaust without risking a prison sentence. I can’t imagine an anti-homosexual hate campaign being acceptable in any European country.

    3) The world leaders who paraded in Paris included representatives from most of the most repressive countries in terms of free speech, including, Turkey (most imprisoned journalists), Mali (second most imprisoned journalists), Israel (second most journalists killed).

    4) The principle of free speech is quickly forgotten when anyone criticises either CH or the media circus surrounding the Paris events. Most recently, Henri Roussel, one of the founders of the old CH, has been slammed for criticising Charbonnier’s decision to publish anti-Mohammed cartoons.

    5) There is tremendous pressure to self-censor, e.g. 1) by constantly stressing the horrific nature of the event (thus tacitly accepting that it dwarfs almost any other event where human life is lost), 2) by not referring to the fact that George Wolinski is Jewish and that Val was a strong supporter of Zionism and Israel, and these were likely factors behind the decision to conduct hate campaigns against Islam.

    6) If you question any of this, you are told, ‘they died for God’s sake!’ Very true, and very awful, but I hear people ask, ‘Did you hear about Paris? Isn’t it horrible?’, when those same people think there is something odd, extreme, or over-emotional, if others gets upset about the Rwanda genocide, or Tibet, or the Naqba, or the destruction of Iraq and Syria. Frankly, given the ‘objectivity’ with which most people facing the most cruel and immoral events of human history, when they say they are appalled by the Charlie Hebdo killings, I simply don’t believe them.

    Barbara McKenzie

  5. I should have said that I thought the above article excellent, in particular,

    ‘Like the wave of disgust against the Islamic State, the outpouring of sympathy for the Charlie Hebdo staff is already being manipulated to produce a consensus likely to favour more repression of Muslims in Europe and, eventually, more aggression by the US, Britain and their allies in the Middle East. That is the real “assault on democracy.”’

  6. Barbara, Richard,

    Following PEN courage award to Charlie I came back to this thread. It is a really important one for all of us.

    Charlie Hebdo were not racists. I know this, because I know them, know my political history, know myself. I think I am getting the measure of some of you who think this way and have been interested lately to see you as fellow travellers in the independence movement..

    I am part of a very old tradition of the left (remember Keir and home rule?) and my committment to home rule in Scotland dates back to a time when people like you probably called people like me ‘tartan tories’ and nationalist fascists. Politcal fashions change and now it is ok to be a ‘utilititarian nationalist’. As a green now I wouldn’t disagree. Your considerable bile is now directed at your old colleagues on the sinking (sunken) boat of the unionist left. Not as adept at jumping through the changes, they can only be looking at you in wonder. There is a tendency here.

    It used to be that the old left also believed in egalitie. Now the ground has moved and many dicate that egalitie is actually wrong in practice, because each and every person is not equal in terms of power and to treat them as equal in this context is to be practising the opposite of egalitie. The practical implications of institutionalised identity politics in seeking the formalize such a deeply complex area have been disasterous. Egalite, for all it’s shortcomings, still works better. It has the virtue of a semblance of coherence in practice. Badly thought out postmodernism, or the older two legs good, four legs bad? An unholy mixture of the two I think. The bile you are directing at those of us who have not ‘jumped’ is familiar.

    Barbara’s piece is the same old hackneyed, badly informed bilge depressingly parroted by a lot of of the left on this at the moment. Scottish PEN deserve everlasting ignomony for their stance on the courage award. I want an independent Scotland, a world, that is made of better and cleverer stuff than this. At the end of the day I want a freer one too. Not one that thinks a red line needs to be drawn under freedom of expression to suit pressure groups and the contorted, morally incoherent madness of identity politics. Scotland ought to listen to Kenan Malik on this. Who are we listening to?

    I notice that Moazzam Begg is coming to Edinburgh to speak. He is a right wing clerical fascist but I absolutely uphold his right to have a platform for his views and to enjoy the civil liberties that he would deny to others. I was grateful to the infinitely clever Assange for the interview he did on Rf news a few years back with Begg and Qureshi. In the time honoured tradition of the libertarian he gave them enough rope to hang themselves with. Anyone who has a literal and fundamentalist attachment to Sharia, no matter how much they seek to make this sound reasonable, is someone who is my implacable enemy. Just as much of an enemy as those who seek to justify the illegal state of Israel as a religious imperative. Incidentally Barbara, you talk of the press keeping quiet about Georges Wolinski being a ‘jew’ as if it meant something about his politics. Isn’t this a tad racist? Some of the world’s most vehement anti-zionists are jews, just in the same way that some of the world’s most vehement anti-islamists are muslims. That Wolinski could be in the same editorial team as Sinet, who famously contended after a terrorist attack that had killed jews, that all jews who were not pro-palestinian deserved to live in fear of being killed, speaks volumes. As do the countless Hebdo cartoons decrying Israel and standing up for the Palestinians. ‘Take that Goliath!’ shout the Israelis as they shoot an unarmed Palestinain woman in one of them.

    I not only uphold the right of Charlie Hebdo to insult, lampoon and satirize islamists, I actively admire them for it. If you tiptoe carefully around one fascist in order not to get too close to another one, all you hve really achieved at the end of the day is an increased ability to tiptoe around fascists. The end result of this is never good. You must stamp on both of them and do it hard . Almost alone of all leftist publications in the west, Charlie did not desert their secularist ,muslim comrades. Your accusations of racism upset me so much, not just because they are wrong but also, and perhaps more, because they are ultimately pernicious for those you claim to help. And they really do need help. I believe that your inabilty to see clearlywhat kind of help is perhaps down to issues you yourselves have with race.

    This article by Zenib al-Rhazoui

    replying to Olivier Cyran is excellent and, I believe also answers not just the racism but also the stupid charge that to acknowledge the danger of militant islamism is to sign up for a ‘class of civilizations’ narrative. This was a claim that never had even any internal logic at the time and one that is looking increasingly deranged in relation to the reality on the ground in the middle east.

    That you have succumbed to the propaganda put forth by islamists that criticism of them is criticism of islam and therefore constitutes islamophobia is testimony both to their cleverness and your stupidity. I do not agree with a lot of what Caroline Fourest says, but her epithet for your type as the ‘stupid’, as opposed to the clever left is well deserved in this context. Those of us on the radical left in particular really should know better because some of the more shameful elements of our own history involve ‘sharpening the differences’ to bring on the revolution. Lying on an industrial scale. If you think only powerful governments do this then you have not been very observant. The islamists are a transnational revolutionary movment in the same way that some of the left were and are, and many of their methods are a new, improved version, brought bang up to date for the modern digital age. Like Assange and Hebdo, I believe we can only defeat them with more information and more freedom of speech and expression, not less. Cartoons not drones. If hypocritical governments latch on to Hebdo then all I can remind you of is the old observation that ‘hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue’. To contend that where there is hypocrisy there is no virtue is, again, testimony to your stupidity.

    As you do not hesitate for a moment to lecture and patronise Barbara – let me give you a little lesson in history and geopolitics as you only seem to know one part of it and have airbrushed out of it those secularists and islamists oiutside the west as active players, reducing them to mindless, reactive elements, barely capable of aspirations of their own.

    I first began to learn about fundamentalism from fellow leftists, Iranians I met as a young person at North Middlesex Poly in the early eighties. When the Shah’s regime was being overthrown they thought they could ride this revolution with the fundamentalists and then sideline them. They were of course, horribly wrong and the ones I spoke to were the lucky ones who got out. Look at the sobering lists of the names of thousands of leftist mujahadeen who tried to rectify their mistake with attempted coups and were hung and shot by Iranian firing squads. Keep looking at this, because your inability to think globally and outside yourself (post colonialism my arse) is part of what has got us all, into this mess.

    When the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power (and remember, this suited the west at that time, because they saw the islamists as a bulward against the reds and the Shah was thinking too much about it being in Iranian interests to trade with the Soviets) he began to flex his muscles a bit and gave notice to the corrupt Saudi’s that they were to be challenged as the emirs of the middle east. At this time, the thought, (still one that Begg harbours), that militant islamism could be a broad church, a pan -islamic caliphate embracing Sunni and Shia, was still in the air for some.. Issuing veiled threats to the present Sunni emirs was not a good way to facilitate this broad revolution and stopped it dead in it’s tracks. No-one made the Iranians do this. The Ayatollah was a prisoner of his own religious dogmatism and fanaticism. . The Saudis took fright at this and began to pump their considerable wealth into the propogation of their brand of islam lest the Iranians gain more influence first. Between then and now they have not really stopped. The Iranian fatwas against the civil society of the west need to be seen in this context too, as part of a religious zealotry and a power struggle between two emirs to win the hearts and minds of muslims. That western civil society ducked out of this,largely leaving secular muslims to face up to death threats on their own is shameful. Remember Rushdie and how he was utterly shafted by the establishment here? The Iranians, even those who are still really hardline revolutionary islamists, have now admitted that this was a grave tactical error on their part. As minority Shia who had not yet been able to sell the broader revolution, they in effect, inadvertently lit a fuse that led back to their own house. We now have a takfiri Sunni caliphate, faciliated by Saudi money, that the Iranians are trying to form a broad coalition against because they know that the success of this caliphate will mean genocidal scales of killing against Shia. Ordinary muslims are suffering beyond our wildest imaginations, caught between a rock and a hard place. If neo-liberalism is the rock, militant islamism is the hard place.

    You have no need to come back and lecture me about the malice and the shortcomings of this western rock.. I know this rock well and do not excuse or represent it. But I would not want to live in a situation where I was given a binary choice between two apalling options.. I would aslo not want to live patronised by elements of the western left who see only themselves locked in a heroic struggle against neo-liberalism, airbrushing out those inconvenient voices like Maryam Namazie and Karima Bennoune, Zineb – Salam Pax for goodness sake. Did you ever actually read his Baghdad blog?

    After 9/11 there was an idiotic tendency in much of the left (a tendency much disparaged by Assange who is one of the few consistent and balanced analysts of geopolitics in the west) to see 9/11 as a western conspiracy. Many of those on the French left like Housez on saw it this way (influencing enourmously people like Olivier Cyran etc) expressly because they could only see muslims as passive players on a world stage where the battle against neo-liberalism was happening. The enormity of the scale of ambition of some militant islamists is something that many on the left still cannot acknowledge.It has become like a mental illness. If they cannot go on the attack enough it may be because they are not internationalist enough in their outlook, for all their words, and do not really have any friends on the muslim left or liberal circles. Instead they have opted for a shallow acquaintance with the muslim right. The idea that the oppressed can turn to unpleasant ideologies and harbour malice of their own is, of course, not to be humoured in our ‘own’ . Where it arises in what in your minds is the ‘other’, it must not be subjected to any form of universalism. We must ignore, excuse, apologise, homogenous and airbrush out inconvenient muslims or conspire to label them ‘coconuts’ as taught by the islamists. . Any of these as long as, heaven forbid, we don’t treat people as our intellectual and moral equals.

    If the world is an increasingly dangerous place for all of us and muslims in particular, blame western hegemony, malice and stupidity, blame islamists, blame the ‘stupid’ left, certainly blame the far right. Just don’t blame Charlie. Every time you do I will respond to you.

Leave a reply