With all France stunned and sickened by the assassinations at Charlie Hebdo magazine, the political establishment is scrambling to present the situation to its best advantage. A tweet from the French President at the Elysée Palace, reproduced in Vanity Fair, shows François Hollande on the phone. The subtitle says Obama expresses American solidarity. The article quotes President Obama:
France is America’s oldest ally, and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the fight against terrorists who threaten our shared security and the world.
Obama promises full cooperation with France in the war on terror. The main political parties call a demonstration in defense of “freedom of speech” for Sunday. Vanity Fair quotes Hollande:
We are under threat because we are a country of freedom and because we are a country of freedom we ward off threats and will punish aggressors.
Probably nobody remembers comedian Stéphane Guillon, kicked off the airwaves for laughing at establishment politicians. But nobody should forget that the targets of “freedom of expression” are very carefully chosen in France.
Increasingly, it seems that the only freedom of speech we are allowed is the freedom to criticize and deride Islam and its followers. The caricatures of Islam published by Charlie Hebdo were insulting and racist. They contributed to the creation of a political climate in France in which every Muslim has become a terror suspect. The caricatures were certainly not anti-establishment. Islamophobia is the hallmark of establishment thought in France today. The French political establishment and the far right have carefully cultivated it in the name of freedom of expression. I am against the assassination of journalists and media workers. But the use of this drama to defend “Western Values” like “freedom of speech” is propaganda for the West’s agenda in the Middle East.
Western “freedom of speech” is tested to the limit and beyond every day in France. TV commentator Eric Zemmour was recently sacked from public television, but only when he went so far as to suggest in an interview that France’s 6 million Muslims should be deported. Award-winning writer Michel Houellebecq has just published a novel in which the fantasy of a France run by Muslim extremists is played out. No doubt the book will be on the bestseller lists for a long time.
Meanwhile, a whole new range of laws have just been introduced allowing the government to spy on us and censor the Internet, all in the name of the war on terror.
– Catherine Vigier, Zeteo contributing Writer
Kia Makarechi, “At Least 12 Dead in Shooting at Offices of Paris Satire Magazine,” Vanity Fair, January 7 2013.
Photo of French President François Hollande has appeared in many Twitter feeds. Photographer unknown.