Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Hebdo’

Banned in Pakistan

July 14, 2020

WordPress notified me that one of my posts from 2015, France is jailing people for the crime of irony, has been banned in Pakistan.   This means that anybody in Pakistan who clicks on the link to that particular post will receive a notice that the post has been blocked by government order.

I assume the reason is that one of the illustrations is a blasphemous (to Muslims) cover of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, many of whose staff members were murdered five years ago because of such blasphemies.

Charlie Hebdo is still publishing, at an undisclosed and secure location, and still giving offense.  The magazine’s target on the anniversary of the massacre was “political correctness.”


Charlie Hebdo targets “new censorship,” five years after terror attacks, by Zeenat Hansrod for RFI.

Interview with Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz

February 3, 2015

France is jailing people for the crime of irony

January 21, 2015

charlie-hebdo-cest-de-la-merdeA 16-year-old French high school student was taken into custody last Thursday for posting a cartoon on his Facebook page “representing a person holding the magazine Charlie Hebdo, being hit by bullets and accompanied by an ‘ironic’ comment.”

French newspapers haven’t reprinted the cartoon, but the description fits the cartoon above, which was taken from the Facebook page of the French comedian Dieudonne.  He has been arrested meanwhile for a different comment he made on his Facebook page.

The caption reads “Charlie Hebdo is crap.  It doesn’t stop bullets.”

The irony in the cartoon is that the Charlie Hebdo magazine is the July, 2013, issue, whose cover mocks Egyptian protesters who were killed in Cairo.  The Hebdo cover caption reads “The Koran is crap.  It doesn’t stop bullets.”


I think mocking the victims of murder is in bad taste in both cases, but bad taste shouldn’t be a crime.  I can’t think of any principle that forbids the one cartoon and tolerates the other.

In France, there are fences around free speech.  It is illegal to deny that the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews occurred or that the Turkish massacre of the Armenians occurred.  It is illegal to incite racial hatred or to glorify terrorism.

Anti-semitism is considered a form of racial hatred, I suppose because Jews are an ethnic group as well as a religion.

A Charlie Hebdo staff member, Maurice Sinet, was fired in 2009 for mocking Jean Sarkozy, the son of France’s president, who was rumored (falsely) to be converting to Judaism after marrying a wealthy Jewish heiress.  Sinet also was charged with “inciting racial hatred.”  He was acquitted of that charge and also won damages for wrongful dismissal.

But blasphemy is permitted, so attacks on Christians and Muslims are all right, as are attacks on French politicians and bankers.

I don’t think that the peaceful expression of any opinion should be suppressed by the government.  Forbidding people to deny that the Holocaust occurred, for example, will only make people wonder what facts the government is afraid to let them learn.  The best cure for falsehood is truth, and that can best be accomplished be free and open debate.


France begins jailing people for making ironic comments by Ali Abudimah for the Electronic Intifada.  This is where I found the cartoons.


Censorship in the name of free speech

January 16, 2015

direct-deaths-multi1Source: Costs of War.

In response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, France has ordered prosecutors to crack down in hate speech, anti-Semitism and glorification of terrorism.

A French comedian has been arrested for a Facebook post that allegedly condones the Charlie Hebdo attack.   France is said to be considering its own version of the USA Patriot Act.

par8067258Vandals are throwing dead pigs into mosques and firebombing mosques in Paris.

And here in the USA, the debate over the Senate torture report has vanished from the headlines.  That is very convenient.

There are hundreds of thousands of dead civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan who had as much right to live their lives in peace as the Charlie Hebdo editors.  It is hard to keep more than a couple of important questions in mind at the same time.

I don’t like the humor in Charlie Hebdo, any more than I liked the humor in Hustler magazine in the USA.  That doesn’t make the Hebdo murders any less a crime, any more than the 1978 of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, which left him in a wheelchair for life, was any less a crime.

I’ll give the writers and editors of Charlie Hebdo, and also Larry Flynt, credit for one thing.  They have the courage of their scurrilous convictions, and they are intellectually consistent.

That’s more than can be said for politicians and journalists who, in the name of defending the rights of Charlie Hebdo, violate the rights of everyone else.


The Saudi roots of extremist Muslim terrorism

January 13, 2015

A liberal blogger, Raif Badawi, has been sentenced by a Saudi Arabian court to 1,000 lashes, plus 10 years in prison, for “insulting Islam”.  He’ll receive 50 lashes a week for 20 weeks.  He got his first installment last Friday.

Raif BadawiHis crime was to critique interpretations of Islam by the intolerant Wahabi (aka Salafi) sect, which is the established religion in the Saudi

The Saudi ruling family lives in fear of terrorist Muslim extremists such as Al Qaeda and ISIS.  Yet the thinking of these movements is rooted in Wahabism, and the Saudi government spends hundreds of millions of dollars to spread its ideas through the Muslim world.

A few more thoughts about the Charlie Hebdo massacre.  If French don’t want their citizens of Arab origin to embrace radical Islam, they shouldn’t use Muslim as a synonym for Arab, any more than they would use Catholic as a synonym for native-born Frenchman or Frenchwoman.

Also, the Charlie Hebdo massacre has conveniently superseded the Senate torture report in the public mind.  The roots of extremist Islamic terrorism are also in Abu Ghraib and the graves of the more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians who died in the U.S. invasion.

This is not an excuse for terrorism or a plea for tolerance of terrorism.  It is a recognition of cause and effect.


Global outrage at Saudi Arabia as jailed blogger receives public flogging by Ian Black for The Guardian.

The World Must Now Confront Salafi Teachings by Trudy Rubin for The Philadelphia Inquirer (via Crooks and Liars)

Moral Clarity by Adam Shatz for the London Review of Books.


Different laws for different religions?

January 12, 2015

In colonial Maryland, relations between Catholics and Protestants were so tense that there were laws that defined an insult to either religion as a breach of the peace.

In the Ottoman Empire, people of different religions lived side-by-side in peace for centuries, all governed by their own religious laws and leaders, subject only to paying taxes to their Turkish rulers.

Dmitry Orlov thinks that such arrangements are the key to peace in countries in which Muslims and non-Muslims live together.

The only solution I see is a duopoly, where Moslems and non-Moslems run their respective segments of society according to different sets of rules.

Some rules they must have in common, such as a ban on incendiary, extremist speech. The prohibition against “shouting fire in a crowded theater” applies to such arrangements.

Vladimir_Putin_and_Gusman_hazrat_IzhakovExamples of such arrangements being successful include the Republic of Tatarstan (Russian Federation) where Orthodox Christianity and (majority) Islam coexist peacefully, and mixed marriages can offer a choice of religions to the children they produce.

Another example is the Republic of Chechnya (also Russian Federation) which, having fought a bloody separatist conflict financed by the Saudis and the US, can now successfully combat Islamic terrorism on its own, without involving federal authorities.

Russia is now a dual Christian/Islamic federation; if current demographic trends continue, then at some point it will become an Islamic/Christian federation. So be it. If peace is maintained, nobody will notice or care.

France can embrace the same choice, forming Les Républiques Françaises, and probably will, because what choice does it have—other than losing the war?

via ClubOrlov.

A thoughtful proposal, but I have problems with it—even assuming that dual law works as well in Tatarstan and Chechnya as Orlov thinks it does.


Free speech and offensive speech

January 12, 2015

joesaccoonsatire1200I think freedom of speech is meaningless unless it includes the right to say, write and draw things that offend people.

I think it is a bad thing when people do not speak their minds for fear of retaliation—legal, economic or physical.

I think it is a bad thing—although a lesser bad thing—when people go out of their way to be insulting and offensive just to show they have a right to be insulting and offensive.

I think this is particularly true when the target of the insults and offense is an unpopular minority.   This is what usually falls under the heading of “politically incorrect”.

I think ridicule should be directed upward against the rich and powerful, not downward against the poor and weak.

This is all a way of making it clear that when I say  I really, really dislike the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, I am not trying to justify censorship or excuse murder.

The cartoons don’t seem to have any point except shock value, and I think.  They remind me of Hustler magazine.  And while the cartoonists have lampooned every institution in France, all the ones I’ve seen on-line target the Muslim religion.

Admittedly, I have not read the content, and I as an American may not appreciate how the French see them.  This is my personal reaction, not an authoritative judgment.

I believe in the principle of “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  I defend the right of museum curators to exhibit obscene and anti-Christian art works.  I defend the right of Holocaust deniers to publish their false opinions.  I defend the right of people to do all kinds of things I wish they wouldn’t do.


Terrorism and the true face of Islam

January 11, 2015
Two Muslim heroes, Ahmed Merbet and Lassana Baithily

Two Muslim heroes, Ahmed Merabet and Lassana Bathily

After the 9/11 attacks, Muslim organizations and leaders all over the world condemned the attackers, and yet there were those who said the Muslim world was silent in the face of the attacks.

Now Muslims all over the world condemn the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and there are still willfully-blind people who say the Muslim world is silent.

The main enemy of the extremist Muslim terrorists are mainstream Muslims.  According to Global Terrorism Watch, about 80 percent of terrorist killings last year were in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria, all predominantly Muslim countries.  Only 5 percent were in Western countries such as France.

The best hope for the terrorists is to convince other Muslims their campaign is part of a larger struggle between the West and Islam as a whole.  To the extent that people interpret the Charlie Hebdo attacks in terms of that narrative, the terrorists will have succeeded.

When people blame Muslims in general for terrorism, they forget Ahmed Merabet, the Paris policeman killed by the terrorists while trying to prevent the attacks.  And Lassana Bathily, the clerk in a kosher grocery store who saved Jewish customers by hiding them in a freezer.   They, not the terrorists, should be regarded as the true face of Islam.


45 Examples of Muslim Outrage About Charlie Hebdo Attack That Fox News Missed by Katie Halper for Alternet.

QOTD: Hezbollah and Hamas by Heather Digby Parsons for Hullabaloo.  The leaders of both Hezbollah and Hamas condemned the attacks.

Ahmed Merabet, the Muslim Police Officer Killed in the Charlie Hebdo Shooting by Jim Edwards for Business Insider.

Paris policeman’s brother: ‘Islam is a religion of love.  My brother was killed by terrorists, by false Muslims’ by Emma Graham-Harrison for The Guardian.

Muslim Man Hailed as Hero in Kosher Grocery Store Attack by Charlotte Alter for Time magazine.

Behind the terrorist murder of French satirists

January 8, 2015

par8067258What was the motive for the murder of the staff of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine that sometimes mocked Islam and caricatured the prophet Mohammad?

Was it outrage by Muslims at mockery of their religion?  Or was it a tactical move, intended to provoke a general crackdown on Muslims in France and thereby help recruiting for Al Qaeda?  The killings had the earmarks of a professional hit job, so I think the latter is highly likely.

There is an old saying that evil came into the world not with the first murder, nor when the people executed the first murderer, but when the people executed an innocent person because he was of the same tribe as a murderer.  Let’s not succumb to that evil.

It should go without saying, but I say it anyway, that these killers should be hunted down and punished, and that free countries should not back down on their commitment to free speech in the face of violence.


Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked satirists in Paris by Juan Cole on Informed Comment.

Who profits from killing Charlie? by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times Online.

Taboos Against Blasphemy Are Normal by Razib Khan for the Unz Review.

Print the Cartoons, Show the Movie by Peter Beinart for The Atlantic.

In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism by Jacob Canfield for The Hooded Utilitarian.  [Added 1/9/2015]

Don’t mourn – neutralize by David P. Goldman for Asia Times Online. [Added 1/9/2015]

In the light of Charlie Hebdo, are some lives worth more than others? by Ian Welsh.  [Added 1/9/2015]