Je Suis Charlie – How Will the Very Secular François Hollande React to the Latest Attack on Democratic Freedom?

jesuischarliehYou most likely have heard of the terrible massacre in Paris today at the head quarters of the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. The image, Je Suis Charlie is being tweeted along with the hashtag #jesuischarlie to show support for the paper.

First, the facts about the attack as they are currently known. Witnesses report that two black-hooded men, armed with Kalashnikovs entered the building and gunned down 20 people (some critically), killing 12 of them (these numbers could change as more about the incident becomes clear). According to police and reported by the Globe & Mail, the men shouted,“We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed.”  Also according to the Globe & Mail:

A short amateur video broadcast by French television stations shows two hooded men outside the building. One of them sees a wounded policeman lying on the ground and strides over to him to shoot him dead at point-blank range. The two then walk over to a black saloon car and drive off.

The men later switched from their get-away-car to a stolen vehicle and fled into the suburbs of east Paris where they remain at large. The French broadcaster, iTele is showing live footage as the story unfolds.

You can guess, by the reported triumphal shouts of the murderers, what prompted this vicious killing – Charlie Hebdo is a left wing newspaper that enjoys mocking anyone it wants; no one is safe from its satire including religious figures, politicians and even jihadists and the Prophet Mohammed – it published cartoons of Mohammed in the past which resulted in a lawsuit (which the newspaper won) and the firebombing of their building. Still, the paper continued and in its steadfast irreverence stood up for what France and other democracies hold dear – freedom of speech and freedom of expression. And that is why it was attacked today. The newspaper’s current cover introduces a novel titled, Submission which imagines France if it were run by an Islamic party (see below). The cartoon is of the book’s author making predictions for the future by saying, “In 2015, I lose my teeth. In 2022, I observe Ramadan.”

Screenshot 2015-01-07 10.03.48

The paper also tweeted a mock New Year greeting from Abu Bakr al-Baghadadi (see tweet below). Note the “and especially to health!”

Screenshot 2015-01-07 10.05.25

If it weren’t clear before, it should be clear now – Islamists do not have a sense of humour about these things and they are determined to intimidate everyone into silent submission. It is time politicians stopped catering to the repressiveness of people who threaten the ideals of free countries. I am very interested in what French President François Hollande will say about this in his address to the nation as he won the election in 2012 mostly because Sarkozy alienated Muslim voters – you could say that Hollande owes his presidency to France’s Muslim population. But Hollande is openly atheist and embraces laïcité, French secularity based on the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State. Will he be the first politician to condemn the dark side of Islam as thwarting French values without isolating Muslims? I hope so. France was a leader in modern democracy and I hope it leads the way again.

Many leaders and organizations are supporting France, including Prime Minister Harper, who tweeted, I’m horrified by the barbaric attacks in FranceEven President Putin, whose relationship with France is shaky, condemned the cynical crime and reiterated Russia’s readiness to continue active cooperation in combatting the threat of terrorism.

CFI also condemns the two gunmen and their motivation for killing at least 12 people and wounding at least 10 others at the Paris office of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

23 thoughts on “Je Suis Charlie – How Will the Very Secular François Hollande React to the Latest Attack on Democratic Freedom?

  1. We cannot expect a proper response to this attack on secular values from our news media. The lucky people who inherited major shares of our news industries are interested in profit not posterity.

    • Happily Hollande is not blaming the paper for any of their pictures. He is simply calling it an attack on freedom of speech which the Republic protects. In the past, while politicians supported Charlie Hebdo, they still threw in that they were riling people up.

  2. Yes.

  3. I think we have to be careful here given that we have quite clearly entered a phase where there is ample evidence that islamicism has taken up the role of cover for every fringe group and their fronts, entranced with subterfuge and wishing to sow chaos and violence for whatever ends.

    I think the correct stance given the current climate is to demand thorough inspection and hold off on imputation.

    The timing after-all does appear slightly off.

    • Because this just might not be the work Islamists? Like maybe a group of teddy-bear fanatics?

      • Joke if you like. I’m going to take this seriously.

        • To my mind, “taking it seriously” includes not ignoring history. To think that this is not the work of Islamists takes some pretty committed make-believe. It isn’t as if Islamists don’t have a track record of intimidation and fire-bombing of cartoons in general and this publication in particular.

  4. History?

    And oft-neglected aspect of a “War on Terror” is that it provides ample enticement and cover for every group with a penchant for violence, and tends to bring them out.

    I doubt I’m the one ignoring history here. Again I’d say the correct attitude at this stage of the “War” is to keep eyes and ears open, and on the back of your head, as they say.

    • Your suggestion that maybe it wasn’t Islamists requires that you be either disingenuous or ignorant of previous Islamist threats and attacks on Charlie Hebdo and its staff. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are simply ignorant.

  5. Well said Diana. The more people who write in support of ‘Charlie Hebdo’, and others doing similar things, the better. I’ve written a short piece about it too.

    This attack was terrorism, and we cannot bow down to it. The fact that someone’s opinion makes you feel offended never gives you the right to kill them. As far as I’m concerned, there are no other valid arguments.

    • Thanks Heather – tweeted your piece and liked it a lot. Thankfully, Veronica thoughtfully added the link to your article because I’ve been off obsessively reading about all this all over and dropped the ball a bit. 🙂

  6. Heather Hastie’s post “Je Suis Charlie Hebdo” can be found at http://www.heatherhastie.com/je-suis-charlie-hebdo/

  7. Great perspective, Diana. Your input on Hollande’s political history adds an important piece to the conundrum of France’s response.

    Also, thank you for automatically providing translations of the French-language illustrations you post. Not all of us are as multilingual as we’d like to be, and it is especially critical not to miss any nuances in volatile situations like this one.

    GB, I’m dusting off my teddy bears just in case…

  8. I read it as ‘Jesus Charlie’ initially, and was confused.

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