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Liberté, égalité, and Fraternité is hypocrisy in our Racist Culture


In the rush for solidarity we’ve taken leave of our critical sense argues Ruari Shaw Sutherland

This week’s attack on Charlie Hebdo represents a senseless loss of life, bringing into sharp relief the tensions between freedom and equality.  It makes it all the more important to remain critical about what freedom of speech means and the power relations which frame it. I have been struggling to put into words exactly what it is about the response to the attack that I find so troubling. Loss of life is always a terrible thing, and the 12 people who died as a result should still be with us. I don’t condone the violence in any way and I hope that the perpetrators are caught without further bloodshed.

In the course of my research on populist far right organizing online, I have been unlucky enough to spend a lot of time trawling the darker corners of the web. My work has focused on the counter intuitive deployment of civic nationalist discourses of tolerance, equal rights, and the rule of law by racist groups such as the Defence Leagues of England and Scotland. Such discourses may seem to be progressive, but are framed by these groups in such a way as to cast Muslims as intolerant, unfairly advantaged, and determined to undermine ‘our’ laws an customs. It is the power relations inherent in this form of ‘tolerance’ that Lebanese anthropologist Ghassan Hage highlights when he states that “the tolerated are never just present, they are positioned”. The satirists of Charlie Hebdo may aspire to be equal opportunities exponents of offense but they undermine the very principles they claim to uphold.

The grotesque parodic images of hook­nosed Jews and Muslims peddled by journals like Charlie Hebdo are all too familiar to me from my work and these caricatures have been put to use by racists for decades in order to dehumanise their subjects and reproduce unequal relations of power. I frequently come across such images in far right web forums which serve to goad Muslims and position them as ‘the intolerant other’ when they protest. In the case of Charlie Hebdo, these images represent a particular blend of xenophobia, racism, misogyny, and homophobia ­ now glorified as a last bastion of free speech in a politically correct world. It is a position that is fueled by discourses of ‘benefit scrounging immigrants’ and justified by reference Muslims’ unfair advantage and dispensations. The attribution of heroic status to the cartoonists and the publication in question now serves to overlook the part that they played in normalising racism and xenophobia.

In fact, the far right Front National have already moved to take advantage of the outpouring of anger and fear, calling for a referendum on capital punishment. A number of retaliatory attacks have since been reported on Muslim targets in France.

Freedom of speech and press are, of course, integral to a healthy society. Like democracy, it is the worst system except all others that have been tried. However, if good satire is to be a weapon of the weak, it must shine a light on authority and speak for the disenfranchised and dispossessed. Much of Charlie Hebdo’s satire is a tame exemplar of this form, riding, as it does, on the coat­-tails of popular xenophobia fomented by the very elites they claim to ridicule. We should always mourn the death of innocent people, but let’s not allow this incident, and the outrage which we all feel, to silence critique of the press ­ including Charlie Hebdo.

To say that freedom of speech requires equal derision of all, is to ignore the deeply engrained nature of anti­Islamic sentiment. We are not playing on a level field, and treating it as such makes us complicit in these structural inequalities. The published images mocking Islam and similar images of Jesus have no structural equivalence, in the same way that jokes about black people and white people are not equally offensive.

Centuries of oppression and structural inequality serve to undermine the French dictum of ‘liberté, égalité, and fraternité’ by limiting the enjoyment of such principles to particular privileged groups. Equal derision of all is only legitimate if all are equal.

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  1. Tocasaid says:

    Equally, I wonder what the difference is between fascism and Islamic extremism?

    Also, has the response to this outrage not been similar to the strength of popular feeling in most EU countries against Western/ Christian neo-con outrages like the Iraq war?

  2. Craig B says:

    “The grotesque parodic images of hook­nosed Jews and Muslims peddled by journals like Charlie Hebdo are all too familiar to me from my work and these caricatures have been put to use by racists for decades in order to dehumanise their subjects and reproduce unequal relations of power. I frequently come across such images in far right web forums which serve to goad Muslims and position them as ‘the intolerant other’ when they protest. In the case of Charlie Hebdo, these images represent a particular blend of xenophobia, racism, misogyny, and homophobia ­ now glorified as a last bastion of free speech in a politically correct world.”

    Awa’ an bile yer heid.

    1. I agree with him. Cartoons always stereotype to some degree, but theirs seem overly focused on race. I don’t like ’em, so I’m not going to pretend I do.

      1. gonzalo1 says:

        Which race? Islam is a religion, not a race.

    2. gonzalo1 says:

      Exactly. Craig you are speaking sense. This diatribe ignores the extreme racism that exists amongst the jihadis and other extremist against western liberal culture and against the jews

      1. Barbara McKenzie says:

        Interesting thing this free speech! And I suppose it’s inevitable that how one person’s reasoned argument is another’s ‘diatribe’.

  3. I’m very glad to read this. Violence has no place in our society and we are rightly horrified by this week’s terror attacks in France. Yet that violence is as nothing compared to what the west has meted out in centuries of war on Islamic nations. From crusades through to drone strikes (6-10 people already being killed by drones this year), it takes on the flavour of endless war. As the overwhelming aggressor in this situation, the only way we can find peace is if we in the west take the first step and put down our weapons of war and of words.

    1. gonzalo1 says:

      The crusades were rather a long time ago

      1. DaveyM says:

        Funnily enough, while the Crusades were almost a thousand years ago, the West is still very active in that region, waging war and wreaking havoc (among civillians – or ‘the public’ as they would be called in this part of the world). And that includes the presence of Israel and their continued deliberate flouting of international law and campaigns of terror on the ordinary people of Palestine. Make no mistake, the Crusades are still very much happening in 2015.

  4. Excellent, thank you. I was arguing something similar in my blog posting yesterday: https://inthepublicsphere.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/i-am-not-charlie-hebdo-and-other-thoughts/.
    We can and must defend the rights of journalists to write, but that does not mean we have to support journals like CH, which are based on prejudice.

    1. Barbara McKenzie says:

      @Michael Marten

      I have read your post, which I was very impressed with, including the Alex Shams piece. I was going to to reproduce Shams here but it’s a bit long. Is there an efficient way to link it?

      1. There should be a link there that you can use, in my introductory text to Shams’ comments…

      2. Oh, and thank you for the kind comments about my effort – much appreciated!

    2. gonzalo1 says:

      It is/was satire. We should be free to satirise the poor oppressed muslims who seem to be doing a better job at self-destruction all over Africa and the ME than any drones could ever do.

      1. Andrea says:

        gonzalo1 I notice that you employ the same tool that the establishment has used forever against the Scots whenever they dare to voice their disaffection.

        Trivialise the issues to make it seem as if the reaction is way over the top.

        The crusades were a long time ago – but the Gulf and Iraq Wars were not.

        Under the pretext of ‘weapons of mass destruction the US and its allies rained the most evil modern weaponry across Iraq, particularly in Sunni communities – men women and children. Not soldiers. Not radicals. Now we are shocked that ISIS has risen from those communities – Sunni Muslims fighting back. And we all call their attacks ‘atrocities’ and ‘Acts of Terror’.

        I remember IN G Bush (the elder’s) time some memorably gruesome comments from the delighted military allies during the Gulf War – that it was like ‘shooting apples in a barrel” describing their air attacks on fleeing refugees.

        And the Sunni Muslims – we introduced them to our very own brand of WMD – Depleted Uranium – the weapon that keeps on killing. Despite intense secrecy about their usage the figures don’t lie. A 4000% increase in cancers, sterility, and horrific birth defects in babies – to this day.

        Noting the birth defects in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, an Al Jazeera journalist Jamail says: ‘They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to … What this has generated is, from 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II.’

        There are hundreds of articles each more horrifying than the next about the use of depleted uranium on islamic communities.

        When we visit Terror on them it is covered up. Trivialised. Excused on some pretext. But when they fight back??

        I wonder what panic would set in in the West if ISis had access to the same kinds of weapons we used on them?

        Very well said Ruari – it is one thing to demonise others – taking responsibility for the kinds of acts which are offensive in themselves (such as satire which is deeply offensive to some groups) requires a much more considered response to political violence.

        1. Barbara McKenzie says:

          Good stuff this, Andrea.

      2. bowanarrow says:


        Thank you…

  5. Alastair McIntosh says:

    Thank you, Ruari Sutherland, for your courage and compassion in saying this. I have just cross-referenced it in my response to Elspeth M in the Je Suis Charlie thread on Bella.

  6. Barbara McKenzie says:

    Thank you for this. However the problem with Charlie Hebdo is not simply that the playing field is unequal. The magazine since being re-established by Val etc in 1992 has not been dishing out ridicule with an even hand, rather has been following a markedly right-wing agenda. Hence one staff member was sacked after criticising Val referring to Palestinians as uncivilised, and another dismissed after making a quip about Sarkozy’s son marrying a wealthy heiress (who happened to be Jewish) after complaints from the Jewish lobby. It supported the Jyllands-Posten ant–Islamic hate campaign with gusto, and certainly made no attempt to balance it in any way with a similar e.g anti-Jewish campaign.

    And as you say, and as these publications (and the terrorists) know full well, their material is used to foment Islamophobia, and moreover to justify real and immoral actions from the west such as the destruction of Iraq and Syria, and the cruel mess that is Palestine, and to ensure the tolerance of the public.

    We were all shocked by the bloodbath in Paris. I do not condone terrorism, any more than I condone warmongering, but that does not justify overlooking the reasons for it.

    1. gonzalo1 says:

      There is no such thing as Islamophobia. A phobia is an irrelevant fear of something. Are we not to be allowed to have free thoughts about Islam? A study of the Isamic world reveals that they are their own worst enemy in countries where is absolutely no western agenda but which are nevertheless chaotic and bloody, like yemen for example.

  7. Paul Carline says:

    A superb counter to the knee-jerk references to an alleged attack on the freedom of the press and to the cloyingly sentimental ‘Je suis Charlie’ meme. The rush to blame this event immediately on Islamic fundamentalists – on the basis of very sketchy evidence – is reminiscent of the suspicious speed with which the alleged perpetrators of the 2001 and 2005 ‘terrorist’ incidents were named – allegations which have not stood up to serious subsequent research.

    The Paris incident also has eery resemblances to the Boston Marathon incident and the subsequent hunting down of the Tsarnaev brothers, blamed without evidence – another event which produced a highly unsatisfactory official account. One brother was quickly murdered and the other has been imprisoned without trial – perhaps awaiting the time when he will have been sufficiently mind-controlled to admit everything, like the hapless Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, waterboarded 183 times in two weeks until he confessed to being the ‘mastermind’ of 9/11 (at least until it was politically convenient for Obama to resurrect Osama bin Laden and stage his murder – despite him having been reliably declared to have died in December 2001).

    On the current evidence there is good reason to suspect that the Paris attack was another staged event which had much bigger aims than provoking outrage about so-called press freedom. As I noted earlier, there is no genuine freedom without responsibility.

    1. gonzalo1 says:

      Breathtaking naivety! When they shouted Allahu Akbar did that not give you a clue that they were Islamic extremist fundamentalists???
      You seem to think that there is no such thing as Islamic extremist terrorism and everything is a US conspiracy. Yawn!! let’s move on from this puerile anti-Americanism.

      1. maxii kerr says:

        Gonzo? What an ignorant prick you are,

  8. erussell2013 says:

    Thank you for posting your statement. I agree.

  9. trapdoorcat says:

    Sensible advice here. The fact we get so ‘exercised’ about atrocities on our own doorstep, but largely ignore the mass killings in the middle east and North Africa, is a clear indication that we are not addressing our own inconsistencies and racist tendencies.

    1. gonzalo1 says:

      How dare you accuse ‘us’ of having racist tendencies. Most of the atrocities carried out in the world from Nigeria to Afghanistan have been carried out by Islamist terrorists. How can you not see that? It certainly wasn’t the elders of the baptist Church!

  10. Can’t believe what I’m reading in this article or these comments. It’s got nothing to do with racism, it’s about freedom of expression in a democracy. You can’t simply murder people in cold blood because you don’t like what they say. And you can’t blame Charlie Hebdo for what happened, unless you don’t support freedom of expression – which some of you seem not to. And let’s not start pretending these murderers are the victims of some great injustice, or that the evidence is sketchy. Their background and previous convictions were well known, but they were allowed to go about their business….until this happened.

    1. Catherine says:

      Like you I am appalled at how many people seem to think that way. A lot of it sounds to me like “Rape is a really despicable crime, and I am outraged anyone would do such a thing. But her skirt WAS a bit on the short side, wasn’t it?” Sick of hearing it.

      1. Brian Fleming says:

        What, like the rape of Iraq by the USA? Well, I suppose it was their own fault, wasn’t it, having a dodgy name with a Q in it, just like al Qaeda.

  11. joseph O Luain says:

    A very difficult argument to make in these times, Ruari. I congratulate you on your courageous attempt.

  12. Big Jock says:

    Layze. Correct we should never pander to religion or extremism, which tries to control the freedom of others in society.

  13. rosemarydale says:

    I have shared this on my “Action Here Now” Facebook page with this introduction:

    “Equal derision of all is only legitimate if all are equal.”
    I am pleased Bella published this piece by Rauri Sutherland, but I think its message may be hard to get one’s head around while we are experiencing the sorrow and outrage of what has happened, and fear what lies ahead. However, what he writes reflects my own thinking. Of course I don’t condone violence, of course, but I wonder if the basis for the radicalisation is less to do with religion and more to do with power, and the inequality of power. I believe this too:
    “We are not playing on a level field, and treating it as such makes us complicit in these structural inequalities. The published images mocking Islam and similar images of Jesus have no structural equivalence, in the same way that jokes about black people and white people are not equally offensive.”

  14. Barbara McKenzie says:

    Alex Shams has a different perspective again, and I think everyone should read his article. Best link I can find is: Anarchist Memes – “How does it feel to know that the one …
    Huge thanks to Michael for this.

  15. gonzalo1 says:

    There seems to be a narrative here, amongst anarchists, extreme liberals and the far left that Islamist/Jihadi extremist should be ignored, or even excused, because everything is the fault o the big, bad west. What if it was their relative who died, would they still be so naive?

    1. Andrea says:

      Ah gonzalo1 I can see that you are comfortable in your sense that the world is as you see it – you call people ‘extreme liberals’ anarchists and folks for the far left …. name calling to avoid the issues raised.

      You mention relatives. Ask the relatives of those Iraqi children born with two heads ..or none at all…how they feel.

      If you cant quite get your own head around that tragedy – then do a search on the millions of returned US servicemen exposed to depleted uranium in Iraq and Afghanistan, now with children suffering the effects of their parents exposure – ask them is the west has no case to answer……I think you would find that they are not quite as comfortable as you are with your rhetoric.

      It would seems to me that if you stir up a wasps nest – knowing it is a wasps nest – then you need to take SOME responsibility…. when the wasps fight back.

      Freedom ..of speech or any form of freedom ..comes with some responsibility to consider consequences – at the very least.

  16. Lawrence says:

    Not really sure what point you are trying to make but, you seem to be judging us all by the standards of the people you have been researching in the dark corners of the internet.

    Your obvious displeasure at this “racist” publication being held up as being “glorified as a last bastion of free speech” misses the point. To hold them up as an example and to support free speech doesn’t mean you support their ideology, by allowing them free speech exposes them to the “critique of the press” you want and to the same ridicule they dish out.

    As for your notion of engrained anti-Islamic sentiment, the size of their circulation counters that idea, for despite being published on and off for over 40 years and their notoriety for publishing such deliberately offensive material, they have remained a small- time publication, used as you say by extremists and the darkest corners of the web.

    “The published images mocking Islam and similar images of Jesus have no structural equivalence, in the same way that jokes about black people and white people are not equally offensive” from your stand point, by that same standard, white racism is worst than black or asian racism and a Christian mocking Islam is worse than a Muslim mocking Christianity, the hurt felt by a devout Christian at a muslim mocking Christ is the same, just their reactions might be different but the offence is still the same.

    In this unequal world sometimes all we have is derision and satire to hold those in power to account.

    I dont agree with their politics but I`m in total agreement with Gregg Moodie and Voltaire “I don’t agree with what you have to say, but I`ll defend to the death your right to say it”. Je suis Charlie.

  17. Urban XVIII says:

    I get the impression some commentators don’t grasp that it is possible to find abhorrence in one thing without embracing the other.

    Like the author, I would never attempt to excuse or justify violence based on the supposed or perceived actions of the victim. No-one deserves to die – or even be imprisoned – for writing or drawing something that merely offends.

    I would however, strongly defend the right to condemn racism and religious or ethnic persecution dressed up as satire and advise caution in aligning oneself with those who think such things are acceptable in a modern, mature and allegedly civilised society.

    Please consider that both things can be awful without in any way “deserving” the other.

  18. Des says:

    je suis Charlie

  19. Steve Arnott says:

    C’mon Bella – really? This is an article that doesn’t even stand up to a smidgin’ of intellectual scrutiny and is, in its attempts to justify the brutal assassination of journalists who dare to challenge the ‘we are special because our God tells us’ brigade, absolutely downright offensive.

    I’d rather have a tenth of a Charlie Hebdo journalist – however right or wrong their political views – than this craven attempt to justify tyrannical fascist attitudes that belong in the dark ages.

    Does this writer really believe it is not possible to oppose racism, Islamophobia, and scapegoating, to support a viable state for Palestine, be absolutely against the crazy Western military interventions of the past decades, and yet stand firm for universal human rights and opposed to the wholly reactionary agenda of the Caliphati?

    May I respectfully suggest he comes down off his ill-judged high horse and does a body count of the tens of thousands of Muslims slaughtered by these self-same, self-appointed jihadis in recent years.

    1. Ruari says:

      I’m sorry you find this offensive Steve. I think you slightly miss the point of my piece if you think I attempt to justify the attacks. I am explicitly clear that that is not my position.
      I agree that we should be opposed to violence of all kinds – physical and structural. My point is that we should not allow the grief and anger we feel in the wake of the attacks to cloud our judgement about cartoons which are often xenophobic, racist, homophobic, and misogynistic.

      1. Ruari, you don’t get it; even if the cartoons are “xenophobic, racist, homophobic and misogynistic” (I don’t think so), you don’t murder people because of it. It’s called freedom of expression in a democracy and that’s what Je Suis Charlie today has been about. Millions in France recognized that today, millions more did around Europe and the world, so why don’t you?

  20. Joe says:

    Original quote “The published images mocking Islam and similar images of Jesus have no structural equivalence, in the same way that jokes about black people and white people are not equally offensive”

    The author of this appears to have shown the shortcomings of the arguement of it all in that one line. To relate offending a ‘prophet’ to racism due to skin colour is a pathetically weak analogy. Racists don’t need much in the way of an excuse to dehumanise anyone they see as different and the very fact the right wing hijack the cartoons they agree with to use for their own ends should not allow any dampening of the right to the satire of religion. All religion.

    If that right was removed what is next? the right to mock politics? to mock the establishment? No, i don’t think anyone would agree that is the way ahead in the western world. Its a very dangerous road to head down where one aspect of society is exempt from satire because of the threat of violence.

    The culture in France is to be allowed to offend, this is part of their make up but the only ones taking offence to the extremes are those who do not allow any form of judgement on their beliefs.

    There is a paradox thats been missed, some 70% of France is Catholic, there has never to my knowledge been any form of protest at Charlie’s work from the majority Catholic population who accept the right to free speech and indeed agree with the magazine’s right to lambast religion and my goodness has Charlie Hebdo satirised the Catholic religion over the years.

    The bottom line is lambasting religion is NOT racism in any form what so ever. I have over many years seen and read much of Charlie Hebdo’s work and although extremely cutting and stereotypical there is no hatred of mankind, only mocking of those who hold religion as their primary reason for living over free thinking humans. Surely that is every free thinking humans right to challenge, mock, satirise or otherwise take religion to task? Its called freedom of expression. The day we prevent that from happening is the day the extreme form of reaction like we have witnessed wins and everyone should put the pens away if that comes to pass.

    Je suis Charlie

  21. Catherine says:

    The extreme right, and in particular Marine Le Pen and her National Front were one of the main targets of Charlie Hebdo. You see a few cartoons online, taken out of context, and you think you know all about it.

  22. Alastair McIntosh says:

    Thank you for that link Logiemink above – that’s an outstanding article by Andre Vltchek – and well said, Urban XVIII. What bothers me is that the Paris terrorists have succeeded in making an icon out of what had been a small-circulation magazine seated at the heart of past colonial power purveying racist stereotypes to provoke a wounded culture. Free speech, yes, but Bella is right not to push the point to the point of reproducing racist cartoons. It drew the line of solidarity at just the right place by publishing Greg Moodie’s “Je Suis” comic strip, and even that has stimulated some necessary discussion.

    As it is, we’re now seeing the spectre of many on the left urging the reproduction of racist material. Has ricocheted shrapnel blinded them to their previous standards? The far right in France will be rubbing its hands in glee; indeed, my French in-laws, who have sharp political minds, are now anxious that maybe not at the next election, but quite possibly at the one after, Marine Le Pen could become president of France. The lionising of Charlie Hebdo’s genre will normalise a fresh wave of frightening racism; indeed, it will become “patriotic”. The only principle to thrive from the violence of the past few days will be violence itself.

    Solidarity with the cartoonists? Yes. But just as British soldiers’ bodies coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan led to stands of silent respect from the people of Royal Wootton Bassett who lined the roads with dignity as the coffins were driven past, including many who opposed those wars – so we, too, should be able to express our feelings about the Paris atrocities in ways that do not involve being pressurised to perpetuate all that Charlie Hebdo seemingly stands for. Free speech yes. Joining hands with every expression thereof, no thanks. Sorry, mais je ne suis pas Charlie Hebdo.

    1. Alastair McIntosh says:

      Ps. I note and take Catherine’s point, immediately above, that came in as I was writing this. But there is a difference. The extreme right in France are strong. They are the heirs to the former colonial mentality. The Muslim communities in the suburbs are weak. It is one thing for the weak to lampoon the strong, humour being one of the few weapons of the weak. It is quite another when it’s the boot is on the other foot in an asymmetry of power.

      1. Catherine says:

        They didn’t lampoon, or bully as I have seen elsewhere, Muslim communities. They mocked all religions, and in particular fundamentalists of all religion. The communities you are talking about are often oppressed by these fundamentalists.

  23. True freedom demands a sense of responsibilty and self control. In the West we are not free to say whatever we want, despite the press and government claiming we are.

    As a person who just tried, it is actually quite difficult to find the most offensive cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo on the internet. From that I assume that nearly all mainstream media outlets have decided not to publish them, in spite of claiming to be supporters of free speech. If they want to speak out so strongly, we, the public deserve to see thw nature of what they are talking about in order to make rational judgements based on the evidence.

    Apart from the fact they have probably chosen not to publish them on the grounds of good taste, there are probably sound legal reasons for not publishing too, as there are elements within them that could be construed as racist, homophobic, promoting religious hatred and possibly obscene, in the UK, at least. But I can´t help feeling there are editors who don´t want us to know just how offensive they are. Certainly most parents would not want to find them on the front page of their morning daily.

    We should all be reminded that It is not so long ago (the 1960s and 70s) that the publishers of Oz magazine were tried and convicted under the obscenity laws of the time in Australia and the UK. Gay News was tried for blasphemy as recently as 1977. The trial resulted in Denis Lemon being sentenced to nine months suspended imprisonment and fined £500. Gay News Limited was fined £1,000. In Britain, the same blasphemy laws, used to prosecute Lemon and Gay News, were only abolished in 2008.

    Having said that, the coldblooded murder of any unarmed person for carrying out their lawful business is an attack on us all, and must be regarded as such. The violent slaughter of a group of people for expressing their ideas – however tasteless and offensive those ideas might be regarded as some – is a terrible indictment of us all in a society that increasingly espouses violence as an answer to international disputes.

    Depsite that, I´m still not convinced how far I want to go in defending to the rights of someone to insult someone else, especially when they do it a manner I am strongly opposed to.

  24. denismollison says:

    Bryan Hemming –

    I don’t think that washes – plenty of the Charlie cartoons are eminently publishable – for example the “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing” that heads this page discussing the MSM’s censorship on this issue:

    Yes, the west’s terrible colonial and post-colonial interference in – inter alia – muslim countries is a much bigger issue, though it’s important to note that the motivation has been wealth and power, not religion.

    But all who accept the UN’s declaration on human rights, and I hope that includes all of us here, must take a stand for the right to criticise or satirise others’ beliefs, especially where those beliefs are incompatible with basic human rights.

    1. Alastair McIntosh says:

      It seems a lot of the problem here is with conflict of rights – right to free speech and to knowingly stir up the wasp’s nest (as somebody on Bella put it), and right of others to feel safe and not subjected to racial prejudice. But this debate is not (or ought not) be about point scoring with each other. Out of fairness to Catherine’s points above can I draw folks’ attention to an interesting viewpoint from an Indian cartoonist that’s just up on the BBC website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-30722009

  25. Douglas says:

    A cowardly and pathetic post and very similar to this one actually….http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2015/01/in-the-wake-of-charlie-hebdo-free-speech-does-not-mean-freedom-from-criticism/ which similarly makes wild accusations of racism and homophobia with examples that don’t actually happen to be racist or homophobic despite the writer desperately wishing them to be so. I think Nick Cohen summed this all up very well in this article: http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2015/01/charlie-hebdo-the-truths-that-ought-to-be-self-evident-but-still-arent/

  26. cdrfuzz says:

    Good article. If the Nation of Islam murdered a Klan chapter in the deep South, I’d be able to condemn the violence without rushing online to tweet “I am the KKK”.

  27. Chris says:

    Thanks for the interesting article from a different viewpoint.

    However I think your entire argument is flawed. You are literally saying that these jokes should not be made because some uneducated and ignorant racists are using them out of context. This is not dissimilar to saying these jokes should not be made because some uneducated and ignorant fundamental muslims are using them out of context.

    Should we stop all literature that can be abused by certain organisations/individuals? Shall be ban the Koran, Bible, A Clockwork Orange?



  28. Catherine says:

    Charlie Hebdo is nothing like the KKK.

    1. cdrfuzz says:

      I was just waiting for someone to willfully misunderstand the analogy, thanks.

      1. Catherine says:

        How very patronising.

  29. urbanwookie says:

    Comments here are an excellent illustration of how racism is born out of ignorance…

  30. amidinette says:

    Belle, belle t’as rien compris!
    Judging a book by it’s cover and out of context is never a good idea.
    Just the kind of shortcut people who called you natzi during the indyref were taking.
    Exactly the kind of argument used to justify the unjustifiable : the killing of cartoonists for drawing fictional characters

    And that’s the whole point, it doesn’t matter how it was drawn the very fact that it was drawn was enough.
    my country is a secular one and we are proud of it. If you choose to believe in anything you can but you can’t impose your belief on anyone. We don’t have blasphemy laws we have the articles 10 & 11 of the Declaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen.

    Was charlie outrageous of course it was .Was it racist no. Against fascism in all its forms yes.
    The fact that the cartoonists were also writing for l’Humanite and Le Monde amongst others should give you a clue of their intentions.
    Another good idea would have been to actually read Charlie ..dans la langue de Voltaire.
    Voltaire misquoted so many times during the last few days, et oui it’s an english woman who said it , Evelyn Beatrice Hall “I do not agree with what you have to say.. Etc”

    And if any doubts remain this is what Jean-Marie Le pen has to say about Charlie:
    “Je ne me sens pas du tout l’esprit de Charlie. Je ne vais pas, moi, me battre pour défendre l’esprit de Charlie qui est un esprit anarcho-trotskyste parfaitement dissolvant de la moralité politique”
    I’m actually , amazingly, happy to see Le pen reacting this way, starting to be uncomfortable to see the very people Charlie mocked and opposed coming all soft on us. Talking about hypocrisy..

    Lastly Belle no society is perfect but I’d rather stand for ” Liberte Egalite Fraternite” than “Dieu et mon droit” and I thought these were principles the Yes movement was also inspired by.
    Is the varnish starting to crack?

    Ni Dieu, Ni Maitre . Vive Charlie!

    1. Catherine says:

      You made my day, I want to buy you a drink and give you a hug! I have been amazed at some the reactions in this country, and particularly from people in the yes movement. Maybe some of them haven’t learned as much as they think they have about media bias, etc.

      1. amidinette says:

        Merci Catherine . Yes, I’m disappointed to see so many people who clearly don’t know / understand much about France and its people and have never read Charlie hebdo making such judgments. Such a misreading of the situation. And all the pseudo philosophic pompous verbiage….Sigh- if I was not in the middle of nowhere with a cold I’ll take up your invite for a drink..

        It was interesting to hear Friday when a muslim guy in Paris was being asked on Tv about what the muslim community should do he answered : which muslim community we are French citizen, human beings, we are all standing together.
        The simplification of the media here splitting people by their religious belief as they might do in the UK simply doesn’t stand. The crowd place de la Republique and around France is a testimony to that.
        but having say that there is also a massive problem with the far right in France and in Europe and this as well as other extremism should be tackled before it degenerate further.

    2. Merci beaucoup, Amidinette! I don’t think the varnish is starting to crack; rather, people are allowing their thoughts and judgement to be clogged with too many layers of varnish! I am sick of reading comments that, in essence, say ‘Nothing can excuse this violence but….they brought it on themselves’.

  31. IAB says:

    I was not a fan of Charlie Hebdo as I’m not greatly interested in political satire but I think it’s fair to say that satire always uses caricatures. I work in the Middle East and the population there are always surprised to hear that there is no universal support for Israel and their actions in the West. Having said that, I abhor Hamas Bunny and other propaganda of this type. When the furor started about cartoons I deflected the anger by saying that the pictures were out there but did people think the Prophet (pbuh) cared since he was in heaven.

    The point I’m trying to make is that these sporadic attacks were to be anticipated the minute Daesh gained publicity and a measure of success. There is also the awful situation in Nigeria with Boko Haram in addition to Al Qaeda and the Taliban who will also use any opportunities they can. These groups are not supported by any Muslims I know but are funded by groups and individuals who usually have an anti-West agenda.

    European nations need to set out their value system clearly (as the Middle East does) and be very clear to people that when you work and live here, you respect our culture and laws, otherwise you won’t be here long.

    1. Bernicia says:

      I think IAN makes a great observation. I posted this on the ‘Je Suis’ thread but it’s more appropriate here. Would be interested to here opinions as I think it goes someway to upicking many of the themes that are intertwined.

      I read an article (will try to dig it out) that puts another spin on it. It pretty much goes aong the ‘John Gray’ line of thought that debuncts (in their view) the myth of benign benevolence of Enlightened progress that underpins the West – the notion of human perfectiblity. Rather than this attack/ Radical Islam being alien to modernity, it is a product of modernity and calling it archaic or unthinking religious fundamentalism or mediaeval is to misunderstand what’s going on. Instead it is argued that ISIS/ Al Qaida et are grounded in western notions of ‘utopianism’ in the same way Fascism, 20th centuy nationalism, Stalinist totalitarianism was. – the point being that these things are just as much the product of the Enlightenment as freedom of speech or democracy are – the product of secular rationalism. In this sense ISIS/ Rad Islam is more like the Khemer Rouge (and other modern blank slate, revolutionary movements) than a pre modern religious cult or in fact the open and tolerant Islamic Calliphates of Spain/ North Africa/ Persia/ Syria (think of Islamic art, science and philosophy – compare it to the Inquisition/ or our own John Knox or the Covenanters) This bares no relation to the all destructive fascism of ISIS – which is also a product of 18th century Whabiism (ironically ISIS is now seeking the destruction on Saudi, the place that gave birth to them.) And here the West, especially France, Britain (for past imperialism) USA (today) do bare responsibilty. The war on Iraq was ironically born of the same thinking….the idea that you could topple Sadam Hussein, wipe the slate clean and rebuild in the image of America. US neo conservatism and foreign policy is the same in objectives and structure as ISIS.

      So ironically the answer must lie in the west also? If the malign outcomes of the Enlightenment can flourish then so can the benign ones. Free speech, individual rights etc.

      Not sure how much I agree with this, but I certainly appreciate (even though I’m not religious myself) the conclusion that what happened to Charlie Hebbdo, although in the name of religion an Islam bares more similarity to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdnand by the Black Hand, or the neomarxist Red Brigades of the seventies.

      As I said before, the events in Paris in the irony of ironies has it’s root more in the Jacobin tradittion of revolutionary France than it does ancient Islam. It is the former that has coopted and distorted the latter and not vice versa.

  32. Clootie says:

    Since the dawn of man we have clustered in small groups and when someone outside the group approaches we shout “stranger” and attack them.

    Have we made any progress?

  33. Candy Darling says:

    And Sarkokzy calling the poor from the banlieue scum, to drum up support for his presidential candidacy? France, with its history of colonialism, is possibly the most Islamophobic, if not the most racist, country in Europe.

  34. Monty says:

    A very ill judged piece that conflates two very different things, the clear prejudice of some extreme right wing UK websites with the broad satire of a French magazine. It attempts a contrarian position but falls flat on its face. It would be offensive if it was not so inept and does little of the reputation of Bella and quasi academic writing

  35. Barbara McKenzie says:

    You show me Charlie Hebdo’s 12+ cartoons lampooning Israel and I might just accept them as an example of ‘broad satire’ and mentally apologise to them and a Not however, to all the people who think these 12 deaths are so much more important than the Rwanda genocide, the birth defects in Fallujah (thank you Andrea), the 36 babies that have been born and died at Israeli checkpoints, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

  36. Barbara McKenzie says:

    Sorry for ugly typo …

  37. Duncan Smith says:

    “…in the same way that jokes about black people and white people are not equally offensive” ….um, why?!

  38. amidinette says:

    Do some research.
    Absolutely amazed to see the way people are ready to judge a magazine they never read or even heard about before this week and how prompt they are to justify people’s death.
    The most politically aware people in Europe ? Mon cul !
    More like a lynch mob. The stoning has already started..hurry up

  39. Duncan Smith says:

    Always amazing to hear the Left’s immediate defence of Islam and attempts to switch the argument in a Anti-Semitic direction whenever islamic terrorists strike. LBGT rights issues are always mysteriously omitted from any comments about the 99.9% of law-abiding, peace loving Muslims and the suffering they endure under the ‘Evil Zionist puppeteers of Western Governments’ Forgetting that 78% of British Muslims wanted those Danish Cartoonists charged with blasphemy…

    And there’s even the odd 911 Conspiracy here in the comments section, just in case people like me thought you Red Yesser’s couldn’t be any dumber.

    Western Culture has ‘done’ blasphemy laws, they didn’t work. The sooner mainstream Muslims catch up to the 21st Century the better for everyone.

  40. Neil Scott says:

    I would argue we, as outsiders are not reading Hebdo in the way Parisians will understand it. The pictures are intended to be what the thoughts of Front National look like when realised. Place them inside a thought bubble and then put the bubble above Marine lePenns head- and then put the words underneath her; that is an easier way for us as outsiders to the media/cultural discourse in France to understand their intention -which is to show how racists etc think. I’ve written an explanation with examples here: http://plotsplot.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/jesuischarlie-or-racist-homophobic.html?m=0

    1. Alastair McIntosh says:

      That’s an angle I’ve not heard before. If it’s true and if that understanding would be widely held, including by the groups that are being caricatured, then it’s very helpful.

  41. Alastair McIntosh says:

    Amidinette – I have commented on this thread in my private capacity and as always, using my real name, easily traceable complete with home address on the internet. However, I am also one of around 20 people that Mike Small, Bella’s founder and editor who posts here as “Bella Caledonia” – asked to serve unpaid as his editorial advisory board. In my case, my remit along with a team of 3 others is “community”. You say, “Do some research.” Let me just give you a little insight into this from my perspective. I don’t know what others on the editorial board may or may not have done, so I can only speak for myself. Neither have I been in touch with Mike about the issues – we are all too pressed to over-stretch voluntary effort.

    When I saw somebody challenging Bella to publish the cartoons I thought, “This’ll be interesting to see how Mike responds.” When I saw his response, I thought, “Probably well said, but I don’t know enough about the kind of cartoons to be certain. I’ll keep an eye on this spot.”

    Unless one happens to be a follower of French political satire, what can one do – both in terms of personal comment, and knowing that as a member of a loosely-connected editorial team, one has an implicit responsibility to keep a finger on the overall pulse of Bella and if necessary, internally raise an issue?

    For myself, I did precisely what you suggested. I did some research. Admittedly it was just 15 minutes of it, but if you can suggest a better approach that would fit within the constraints of voluntary time, then I’m listening. I noted that people on this and the earlier Je Suis thread were saying that Charlie Hebdo even-handedly lampoons all religions. They were arguing that it was all-round iconoclastic, and of course, in all 3 of the Abrahamic religions there are strong traditions of iconoclasm – so much so that it has been argued elsewhere that Charlie Hebdo does what they invented!

    I noted that others in the comments threads were questioning just how even-handed CH’s lampooning actually is. I was also aware that the 3 Abrahamic faiths – in historical order, Judaism, Christianity and Islam – are not all equally respected in French culture. They are stigmatised to differing extents and their profiles in terms of socio-economic privilege in France, their history, and therefore their sense of ontological security is very different.

    My research was very simple. I went to Google Images – the area that throws up only images and not text – and entered in the words – Charlie Hebdo Cartoons – followed by, respectively, the words – Jew, Christian, Moslem. In each of these 3 permutations I glanced at the first 100 or so images that came up. The weakness of this approach is that Google picks up only what has been posted to the web and prioritises those images around which there is a strong charge, though that is also a strength of the approach since it captures where those charges are found.

    Try that experiment. I saw images that I considered were likely to incite racism towards Semitic peoples, stereotyping and hatred. I doubt some of them would be legal under British laws. As a Christian (yes, I’m sorry), I was not offended by any of the Christian images I saw – in fact, the recent one of the birth of a happy-clappy baby Jesus as if all ready for the “prosperity gospel” made me smile – “Virgin’ on the ridiculous” was the hackneyed expression that came to mind!

    However, if I was a young Muslim in France, unable to get a job because I had an Algerian name or an address in one of the banlieue, suburbs a.k.a. in Scotland, “peripheral housing schemes”, I think I’d have felt further stigmatised. In the pilloried images of the Prophet – images such as Mohammed (pbuh) postured naked as if about to be buggered – I think that at some deep psychological level that I might feel conflicted about and not fully understand, I’d be seeing myself, my community and our collective identity being perverted. Furthermore, that perversion being a consequence, in significant part, of an identity that has been limited in its latitude for evolution in significant part by colonial and ongoing post-colonial military dynamics that have, to use Frantz Fanon’s word from his experience in the French-Algerian Civil War, “infantilised” that identity. I think that viewing these cartoon images might have felt like just another kicking from those who don’t want to try and understand, more victim blaming, and that, even though the images often highlight aspects of authoritarian religion that I too would consider to be un-Islamic. Plus, all the caricatures of beards and hooked noses would have niggled at me, especially if I was familiar with how the Nazis portrayed the Jews in the 1930s.

    Bottom line, I never had to say anything to Mike Small. When he reads this it’ll be the first that he gets to know about it. But I concluded that the editorial position he has taken was sound.

    As you say, Amidinette: “Do some research.”

    I’m sorry that this and some of my other posts on this matter have been so long. Ever since the First Gulf War I have been an advisor on interfaith relations to my good friend, Dr Bashir Maan, a past President of Glasgow Mosque who, until old age caught up on him, was Scotland’s leading Muslim spokesperson as well as having been convenor of Glasgow’s police committee (yes, that is the kind of multicultural Scotland that we are trying to grow – Humza Yousaf MSP is a younger example of such well-integrated Islam in our political structures, though we’re not yet in a position to be self-congratulatory about it). I have explained my thinking here partly because the efforts of some of us to create a very strong Scottish identity, and a very internationalist one, might be worth passing on. But forgive me if I have over-indulged your patience.

    1. aranciaca says:

      There is a hard balance to achieve here. It is very easy to fall into some binary categorisation, as if there were only one distinction that could be made in this matter. And this comment seems to be written with so much greater insight into the difficulties that must inevitably accompany such analysis than the original article (and much of the subsequent discussion) that it deserves to be an article on its own.

      In this context, I am reminded by the attempts in the Scottish Enlightenment to create what would effectively be a citizens’ militia … think of the Second Amendment of the US constitution. Not to defend Scotland from England, but to ensure that the institutions of what we might nowadays call civil society could not be overwhelmed by force, whether directed by the state or any outside influence.

      1. Alastair McIntosh says:

        Thank you Aranciaca. You’re right, it is very hard to find balance between the binary categorisations, and when I write a posting like that I find it impossible to be 100% satisfied with my wording. It’s said that, very often, the opposite of one great truth is another great truth, and there are places where that reveals itself in this comments thread.

        I don’t think I know Ruari Shaw Sutherland who wrote the original article, but personally I thought it was very good and courageous article. I don’t know which Bella editors might have seen it through, but they did a good job in my view. Inasmuch as you think that my comment conveys greater insight than Sutherland shows, remember that what I’ve written has come about with the hindsight of several days of diverse commentary on both this and the “Je Suis” Bella thread, as well as loads of other reflections in the mainstream media. (If you’ve a moment, check out, for instance, the Joe Sacco comic strip about satire that was on p. 31 of yesterday’s Guardian: you can see it online at http://goo.gl/cXtDE7). My comments this morning embody the fruits of having forums in which robust but (mostly) respectful debate can be conducted. That’s real free speech.

        I must try and check out from this debate now as my other work is suffering. So is my wife – like all those promised weekend chores! But these are issues that are likely to stay with us and we’ll come back to. Questions about the spiritual life, its validity and its corruption by violence, are not going to go away. The spirit in which we conduct such debate will say as much about us as the religions that we may or may not espouse. Thank you for contributing here.

    2. amidinette says:

      My comment was actually addressed to Barbara, but anyway pleased to hear from you. 15 mn on Google well…my point exactly. As I wrote in my first comment I don’t think judging a book by its cover is ever a good idea. Yes, you might not be a fan of religious caricatures, but again taking it out of the context of a secular French society is I think a mistake. My name is Laurence I grew up in an estate near Marseille in the South of France with my friends from all over the Mediterranean and beyond. For the vast majority of the people there religion was not really important, and still isn’t I bet. We were just all poor with the same very low prospects of getting anywhere in life, much like any estate in Europe. Yes I agree that at the time being of Algerian descent was not increasing your chances of finding a job and racism is getting worse in France and rest of Europe. But dividing people into communities is not I believe the solution to more equality.
      What happened in my country this week is a tragedy. It is a tragedy that these 3 young guys ( and I don’t care what their religion was) are dead killing other people. I am a Charlie reader and I cried but not just for them I cried for the loss of life. I cried for these guys when they shot and when they were shot. But their act is despicable. We know that Muslims are the first victims of these extremists as not a single day passes without a new horror story. A lot of journalists are jailed, killed and punished for expressing an opinion. We can’t have that here and we can’t have that there.
      The call for unity in France demonstrates the determination of the people to stand shoulder to shoulder regardless who they are and what they believe in. It is great to see the world rallying everywhere against such a waste of life and to defend freedom of expression when it is threaten. Long may it continue.

      1. Alastair McIntosh says:

        Your comment was posted to my comment, not to Barbara’s, thus why I thought you were addressing me. But I agree with you that people must stand shoulder to shoulder. Unfortunately, differences in socio-economic standing and other factors mean that people very often are divided into communities whether we like it or not, especially in a city like Paris; and this social stratification compounds the inequality.

    3. florian albert says:

      After reviewing some of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, Alistair McIntosh concludes ‘ I doubt some of them would be legal under British laws.’
      This raises an awkward point. We are being urged, not just to condemn the murderers of the cartoonists but to associate ourselves with the victims and, by implication, their work.
      However, if their work was such that it would have led to prosecution in this country, do we want to associate with it ? Is this another example of a herd instinct taking over ?
      (Part of the problem is that in our culture ‘cartoons’ are assumed to be a source of amusement. In 20th century Europe, cartoons were used – often successfully – to mobilize people against political enemies. These were the ‘caricatures … of hooked noses’ and their equivalent in Communist Russia.)
      Charlie Hebdo appears to have been a magazine which laid great emphasis on liberty but at the expense of fraternity.
      Personally, je ne suis pas Charlie.

    4. rosemarydale says:

      I was going to reply to Duncan’s post earlier, “…in the same way that jokes about black people and white people are not equally offensive” ….um, why?!

      However, having read your long post here, Alastair, I think you have captured my thoughts. As I wrote above, I like this article very much and am pleased Bella published it, and that it has generated so much discussion. It expresses the ideas that informed my many years of teaching in the US; my teaching philosophy and practice were based on multiculturalism and the “Anti-Bias Curriculum”.

      In terms of the above quote. I have believed that statement for a long time. For me, it comes down to this. Where there is a dominant culture holding an unequal amount of power within the structure of society, then there has to be a responding differential to it in terms of language used, images seen, sensitivities understood etc. For me, Ruari’s key sentence is: “Equal derision of all is only legitimate if all are equal.”

  42. Albalha says:

    The story of Lassana Bathily, the supermarket worker, if you haven’t heard of him so far, just came across it myself.


  43. Methinks you’ve been spending too much time trawling the darker corners of the web. You need to get out more!

      1. Barbara McKenzie says:

        Words fail me …

  44. Barbara McKenzie says:

    This quote from Rabbi Michael Lerner of the Jewish magazine Tikkun, already quoted by Alistair McIntosh under Greg Moody’s ‘Je suis’ cartoons on Bella. Unfortunately I missed the cartoons and comments, as he says it much better than me. (Sorry if it ahs already been requoted)

    “… when the horrific assassinations of 12 media people and the wounding of another 12 media workers resulted in justifiable outrage around the world, did you ever wonder why there wasn’t an equal outrage at the tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed by the American intervention in Iraq or the over a million civilians killed by the U.S. in Vietnam, or why President Obama refused to bring to justice the CIA torturers of mostly Muslim prisoners, thereby de facto giving future torturers the message that they need not even be sorry for their deeds (indeed, former Vice President Cheney boldly asserted he would order that kind of torture again without thinking twice)?

    “So don’t be surprised if people around the world, while condemning the despicable acts of the murderers in Paris and grieving for their families and friends, remain a bit cynical about the media-circus surrounding this particular outrage while the Western media quickly forgets the equally despicable acts of systematic murder and torture that Western countries have been involved in.”

  45. Crubagan says:

    I have to say, I was very disappointed to read this article. Is this the editorial line of Bella Caledonia? It defends exactly the same mentality that said Christianity couldn’t be criticised:

    “That … the prisoner had repeatedly maintained, in conversation, that theology was a rhapsody of ill-invented nonsense, patched up partly of the moral doctrines of philosophers, and partly of poetical fictions and extravagant chimeras: That he ridiculed the holy scriptures, calling the Old Testament Ezra’s fables, in profane allusion to Esop’s Fables; That he railed on Christ, saying, he had learned magick in Egypt, which enabled him to perform those pranks which were called miracles: That he called the New Testament the history of the imposter Christ; That he said Moses was the better artist and the better politician; and he preferred Muhammad to Christ: That the Holy Scriptures were stuffed with such madness, nonsense, and contradictions, that he admired the stupidity of the world in being so long deluded by them: That he rejected the mystery of the Trinity as unworthy of refutation; and scoffed at the incarnation of Christ.”


    That got Thomas Aikenhead the death penalty.

    Creeping, reactionary social conservatism, which seeks to protect ideas from criticism, should have no place in a free society.

  46. Julian H says:

    I have read the comments to this thought provoking article with dismay but not surprised. Not one of the contributors bothered to mention that along with the massacre at Charlie Hebdo there was an attack on a kosher delicatessen that left four people dead and many others traumatized. Not one of you. But this is to be expected.

    Over the past few years the frequency and vehemence of anti-Semitic attacks in France has increased to a level unseen in post WW2 Europe to approximately 600 attacks per year. This includes rape, torture, murder and arson together with verbal and written abuse. The writing was on the wall but the French and preferred not to read it. When a gunman killed three children and a teacher in a Toulouse Jewish school on March the 19th 2012, including grabbing a girl by the hair and shooting her in the head at point blank range, the incident was considered to be an anomaly. The perpetrator was considered to be a lone gunman not part of a larger or far more sinister network.

    Unfortunately for the French people and especially the victims at Charlie Hebdo this was not the case. The Jews who died because they just wanted to go to a kosher deli before the Sabbath would have been marginalized if it was not for the attack on a magazine that most people had never heard of outside of France, and judging by the reactions to this article, most who did know of it didn’t like it too much even if now, post factum, they recognize its importance in a free society.

    As long as the wave of hate crimes was focused mainly on Jews the French authorities could, at worst, ignore them or at best claim to be doing all they can to protect the half a million Jews that live in France. When you watch with horror the ease the delicatessen was attacked you may begin to understand the mindset of the Jewish people. The authorities failed them, yet again. The anguish of the French people is genuine, certainly the show of solidarity on Sunday’s march was heartwarming, but the failure of the authorities to understand the meaning and consequences of a Jihad is evident. As is the failure of the bloggers to even notice the deaths of four Jews as if it was no more than a side show to the real issue of freedom of the press.

    Many of the contributors to this blog have excused the perpetrators of these crimes by using the notion that colonialism is the root cause to all this evil. That the West is now reaping what is sowed. That you can excuse this behavior because it is the natural result of oppression. There is hardly a town, let alone country, in the West and in the Arab World that has not perpetrated heinous crimes against the Jews in the last two thousand years. These crimes are still being perpetrated today in France. Where is the Jewish Jihad? The one where the Marxists clap along with glee as the Jews revenge the injustices of the last two millennia?

    If you excuse this behavior you yourself become a racist. You excuse the Jihad because of diminished responsibility, because Muslims don’t have the same moral sensibilities that prevent you going out and wreaking havoc every time you feel oppressed. This is both hypocritical and historically false. The Jihad itself was always a colonial ideology. It seeks to turn the world into a sharia caliphate. A world where all non-Muslims become dhimmi, disenfranchised and persecuted non-citizens. It almost succeeded once and if these attacks continue it will polarize Europe again to the point where a Holy War is inevitable. And death, as we saw last week in Paris, does not care what religion, creed or political party you follow. Death is the true Democrat.

  47. SB says:

    You’re not the first Brit who does not fully grasp the situation here. Cabu, Charb and Wolinski were public figures for decades and left an indelebile imprint on French culture. Before Charlie Hebdo they worked in other magazines, children tv shows and radio programmes that were liked by everyone in France. The fact that Charlie Hebdo was intentionally niche does not change that: they were respected public figures.

  48. Barbara McKenzie says:

    Must be the biggest exercise in hypocrisy known to mankind, pretending that this is about ‘free speech’, when we all know that CH was into targeted racism tp support Israel , and similar hate campaigns against other minorities were not favoured by CH and would never be permitted in France, Denmark or anywhere else, Not to mention the leaders from the worst offenders in terms of free speech (Turkey, Mali, Israel) gathering in Paris …

    ‘In 2002, Philippe Val, who was editor in chief at the time, denounced Noam Chomsky for anti-Americanism and excessive criticism of Israel and of mainstream media. In 2008, another of Charlie Hebdo’s famous cartoonists, Siné, wrote a short note citing a news item that President Sarkozy’s son Jean was going to convert to Judaism to marry the heiress of a prosperous appliance chain. Siné added the comment, “He’ll go far, this lad.” For that, Siné was fired by Philippe Val on grounds of “anti-Semitism”. Siné promptly founded a rival paper which stole a number of Charlie Hebdo readers, revolted by CH’s double standards.’
    (from Counterpunch http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/07/what-to-say-when-you-have-nothing-to-say/)

    Siné is being tried for antisemitism as we speak.

    This makes some good points: http://www.thelocal.se/20150113/eleven-reflections-that-mean-i-am-not-charlie

  49. xv says:

    Muslims are as bad. Check out MemriTV’s channel on youtube which monitors tv transmissions in various islamic states. They regularly feature muslim leaders making extremely racist remarks about jews and sometimes about europeans. If europeans said similar things to what these muslim leaders did on tv here, they’d be rightly arrested for hate crimes.


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