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Daily News Analysis

Charlie Hebdo, Islamophobia and ‘freedom of speech’

Crescent International
Zafar Bangash

The murderous attack on the Islamophobic French magazine Charlie Hebdo is being used to whip up anti-Muslim hysteria and make fascism respectable. Pity the marginalized Muslims of France, indeed anywhere else in the Western world.

Sunday January 11, 2015, 19:48 EST

According to French media reports, an estimated one million people marched in the streets of Paris today to condemn the attack on the Islamophobic, pro-Zionist French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Among them were heads of state or government of several countries.

It is claimed that these people marched in support of “freedom of expression.”

At the outset, it must be stated that the killing of innocents cannot be justified on any grounds. Period. There can be no exception to this fundamental principle.

It is necessary to state this because the episode is framed in a binary argument: you either support the controversial magazine’s right to publish insulting cartoons no matter how offensive, or you are a supporter of terrorists. This is George Bush's categorization of “You are either with us, or with the terrorists.”

We reject this binary categorization. Even the magazine’s editor does not believe in or practice it as Alain Gresh, deputy director of Le Monde Diplomatique put it in his January 8 piece in Al Jazeera.

“In November 1970, following the death of General de Gaulle, it [Charlie Hebdo] published a cover with the headline: ‘Tragic prom in Colombey [de Gaulle's city of origin], one dead’, which resulted in it being banned by the Ministry of Interior.

“But since 2000, under its new editor Philippe Val, Charlie Hebdo shifted direction, taking a stand against the Palestinians and supporting the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in 2006... This came during the second Intifada.

“At the same time, the newspaper started to launch Islamophobic campaigns. In 2006, it republished the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad [pbuh-ed] that were previously published in Denmark. A number of intellectuals then pointed out that while in France we cannot accept censorship, sometimes it can be irresponsible to publish drawings fuelling sectarian tensions in the country.

“In March 2006, Val signed ‘The Twelve's Manifesto: Together Against the New Totalitarianism’ published in the weekly magazine L'Express, by Bernard-Henri Levy, Caroline Fourest, and Antoine Sfeir.

“After having overcome Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global threat of a totalitarian nature: Islamism. We - writers, journalists and intellectuals - call for resistance against religious totalitarianism and to promote freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.”

“But these positions divided the team and several members resigned. While claiming to stand for press freedom, Charlie Hebdo dismissed one of its star cartoonists, Sine, due to false accusations of anti-Semitism.

“It then came as no surprise that, when elected, President Nicolas Sarkozy promoted Philippe Val to executive editor of France-Inter (a public radio station).”

We quote Gersh extensively to point to the hypocrisy in the whole episode.

Freedom of expression is invoked if the offenders are white and the perpetrators against them are Black or Muslim.

In the Paris march was also Benjamin Netanyahu, the arch terrorist and war criminal who had only six months earlier presided over the slaughter of 2,140 Palestinians in Gaza, one third of them children.

Israeli planes, helicopters and artillery fired directly into schools, apartment buildings and hospitals. Children were blown to piece while playing on the beach!

Before the start of the Paris march, President of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) Roger Cukierman spoke of a “war situation” before being received with other representatives of the Jewish community on Sunday by Francois Hollande at the Elysee. He complained that on social media networks, there were people that were supporting the [alleged] terrorists. Without noticing the irony, he thundered: “We demand that all those who are supposed to be jihadists in this country are subject to preventive measures, maybe remand, or even forced to wear electronic bracelets.”

Coming from a representative of the Jewish community whose members were subjected to this kind identification marks in Germany before the Second World War is quite revealing.

Cukierman was accompanied by the Chief Rabbi of France Korsia Haim, the president of the Israelite Consistory Joel Mergui France as well as leaders of the United Jewish Welfare Fund, the Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJF), the Foundation for the Memory of the Holocaust and the Holocaust Memorial.

It is noticeable that freedom of expression is only invoked when the rights and privileges of the powerful are at stake, but not of the weak or the oppressed.

After all, people of color—Brown and Black—are routinely killed by the powerful but these never evoke anywhere near the outrage as evident in France.

In the week in which the attack on Charlie Hebdo took place, the terrorist group Boko Haram murdered more than 200 people in Nigeria and US drones killed dozens of people in Afghanistan including children but how many Western media outlets even reported on these events?

Since last August, the police in several US cities have murdered at point blank range unarmed African Americans. Have these murders evoked any major concern?

What about the slaughter of 148 school children and teachers at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan on December 16? True, there were expressions of sympathy from some Western leaders but not the kind of obsessive concern for their lives as witnessed in the Charlie Hebdo affair.

There are other glaring facts that are being papered over. We need not indulge in conspiracy theories but these facts are now well established.

The police accused Hayat Bomedienne, the girl friend of the hostage takers, Amedy Coulibaly at the Jewish shop, of being his accomplice in the kidnapping. It has now emerged that she had already left France on January 2 and gone to Syria via Turkey, according to Turkish officials.

Further, Hamdy Mourad, 18-year-old Muslim of Algerian origin, surrendered himself to police when he heard his name mentioned in the news as being an “accomplice” with the alleged terrorists. [We say alleged because their crime has not been proved. In any case they are dead!]

Mourad was not an accomplice and had an airtight alibi to prove it.

There are other facts that are conveniently overlooked. The two brothers, accused of the terrorist act, have been identified as 32-year-old Said Kouachi and 34-year-old Cherif Kouachi.

In their attack on Charlie Hebdo offices, the two men wearing masks and carrying Kalashnikov rifles, went a different building. They were “directed” to the correct building!

Since 2011, armed police have been posted outside the magazine’s offices 24/7. Where were they when the January 7 attack occurred?

The two brothers, according to media reports, had joined the fighting in Syria that is aimed at overthrowing the government of Bashar al Asad.

France, Britain, the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to name just a few countries, are involved in supporting terrorism in Syria and Iraq.

Is it alright for terrorists to kill innocent people in Syria and Iraq including horrific beheadings as well as indulge in cannibalism but it is not acceptable for them to indulge in similar acts of violence in Western societies?

Are Western governments and their puppet Muslim regimes prepared to accept responsibility for the conduct of the monsters they have created?

Why should ordinary Muslims have to apologise for the barbaric behaviour of these people when they have nothing to do with supporting them or even have any knowledge of their activities?

And are Western governments prepared to accept that their so-called War on Terror is directly responsible for the mayhem in much of the Muslim world as well as the creation of these monsters?

It is becoming increasingly clear that such acts—as we witnessed earlier in Montreal and Ottawa (October in Canada), Sydney (December Australia), and now Paris (France) are part of a broader plan to clamp down on people’s rights.

Take the case of the Sydney hostage taker. For 10 years Tehran had demanded that the man, “Sheik Haron,” be repatriated to Iran because he was involved in a number of criminal activities. The Australians refused and said he was an “asylum seeker”.

When “Sheik Haron” was involved in the criminal act, the self-styled imam suddenly became an “Iranian.”

Given the events of the past few months, we can safely say that such acts of violence and terrorism will occur in other Western cities to prepare the ground for usurping people’s rights even more.

And, none of the perpetrators of such crimes will ever be captured alive. Such patsies must be eliminated because dead men do not speak.


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