(/sites/default/files/uploads/2015/01/pk.jpg)France’s unity rally, held on January 11, 2015, following the massacre at Hebdo magazine headquarters, was based on the premise of support for freedom of speech. In reality, the whole thing was nothing but a farce.
Charlie Hebdo was a French satirical magazine, known for mocking religious figures of all stripes. However, some Muslims are hypersensitive to humor about their Prophet Mohammad, and over the years, the magazine was plagued with death threats. In fact, in 2011, some Muslims firebombed and destroyed Hebdo’s old offices, after it announced that it would name Mohammad as its Editor-in-Chief.
Now, on January 7, 2015, two brothers gunned down twelve people in and around the magazine’s headquarters, screaming “Allahu Akbar!” (Allah is greater!) in defense of their beloved religion. Recently, Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula claimed credit for the attack, pronouncing that it had planned and financed the murders.
But western media as well as leaders of the here-to-fore Free World refuse to acknowledge that any version of Islam is responsible for the attack. Much of the media originally failed to report the connection (though it was hardly a secret,) and politicians, like President Obama, continue to deny it. Islam is a religion of peace, his administration tells us. What we witnessed is “violent extremism”, similar, I suppose, to that of mere thugs down the block.
The unity march was the largest rally ever held in France. Protestors in support of freedom carried signs that read “Je suis Charlie” and “Liberté”!. Ironically, French President Hollande requested that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu refrain from attending, despite the fact that Israel is on the forefront of fighting the same enemy. Netanyahu attended anyway, to the ire of the French government.
President Obama was a no-show, and in fact, nobody from the US government was represented at the march. US Attorney General, Eric Holder, was in France at the time, but apparently couldn’t be bothered to show up for a unity rally in support of free speech and in opposition to Islamic terrorism.
But don’t worry; the US is on top of things: it will be holding its previously cancelled (or “indefinitely postponed”) summit on “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE). The agenda makes no mention of Islamic terrorism or Islamic extremism, even with questionable qualifiers. If the summit’s definition of “extremism” bears any resemblance to the application of the term used by the Homeland Security Advisory Committee, then no doubt the roundtable targets will be the Tea Party, neo-Nazis, and other “right-wing extremists.”
Don’t be surprised if the administration reaches out to CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood front-groups to stamp out this scourge. After all, as Eric Holder has repeatedly stated…. urrr…stuttered, “[W]e are at war with those who would commit terrorist attacks and who could corrupt the Islamic faith in a way that they do, to try to justify their terrorist actions. So, that is who we are at war with.”
Now, in the wake of the attacks, France has arrested at least 69 people for various types of “offensive speech.” This includes the detention of the controversial comedian Dieudonne, who is known for his anti-Semitic “humor.” He was arrested for a facebook post on which he proclaimed, “[J]e suis Charlie Coulibaly”, merging the names of Charlie Hebdo, the magazine, and Amedy Coulibaly, one of the murderers of the Kosher café incident, which followed the massacre at Hebdo.
Additionally, a sixteen year old boy was arrested for a post he placed on facebook. It was a cartoon of a man holding the Charlie Hebdo magazine with bullets going through it into his chest. The text read, “Charlie Hebdo is shit. It doesn’t stop bullets.” It was a play on a cartoon published by Hebdo in July, 2013 which mocked an Egyptian holding the Koran with bullets going through it. The statement read, “The Koran is shit. It doesn’t stop bullets.”
Reports indicate that the sixteen year-old teenager had no criminal record and lives at home with his parents. According to prosecutor Yvon Ollivier, the teen failed to meet the “profile suggesting an evolution toward jihadism”.
The French media reported the incident, but omitted the cartoon, presumably due to fear of arrest. The flood of arrests occurring after the Hebdo massacre and the “free speech” rally, have been made possible by French laws restricting free expression. Most arrests were targeted toward speech that was anti-Semitic or glorified terrorism, but it was speech none-the-less, not violence.
On January 12, 2015, French Justice Christiane Taubira sent a memo to prosecutors encouraging a crackdown on ostensibly offensive speech. “…words or wrongdoing, hatred or contempt, uttered or committed against someone because of their religion must be fought and pursued with great vigor!”
According to Amnesty International, some of the prosecutions for defending terrorism “cross the high threshold of expression that can be legitimately prosecuted” while “others, however offensive, … do not.”
Though France already had laws prohibiting the incitement or defense of terrorism, last November, France made “defending terrorism” a criminal offense subject to fast-track trials.
However, many are also being prosecuted for “incitement to discrimination, hate or violence”, language which is mirrored in UN Resolution 16⁄18, pushed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to stifle all criticism of Islam and Muslims. Similar “hate speech” laws or laws prohibiting the “denigration of religions” are commonplace in Europe now, usually applied unevenly against “Islamophobic” speech. Now, in an ironic twist of fate, it seems these laws are backlashing against many of those who supported them.
Thus the question must be asked, what did the Paris rally stand for? It was in “unity” for what underlying principle? Was it merely to mourn those who died or was it intended to show support for freedom of speech? France must reflect inwards and decide what kind of society she will be.
Both Islamists and the French government are stifling free speech: one with bullets and the other with laws. They target different content, of course, depending on what they consider “offensive.” But free speech rights mean nothing without the right to express unpopular, even offensive viewpoints.
Does France long to be the bastion of freedom she claimed during the march? Or, in her failed attempts to fight internal enemies, has she changed her very nature?
In the famous Chinese military treaty, “The Art of War”, General Sun Tzu asserted that to win a war, one must know thy enemy and know thyself. Clearly, France has forgotten both.
To listen to Deborah Weiss discuss this issue on “Line of Fire” radio with Dr. Michael Brown (starts at the 55 minute mark), click here.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.