I guess it could be a while before we run out of "I am Charlie" articles. -សតិវ អតុ
From A World To Win:
14 January 2015. A World to Win News Service. The monstrous massacre of the Charlie Hebdo magazine staff by Islamic fundamentalists, like the wanton murder of four hostages at a kosher supermarket two days later, rightly shocked many millions of people. Much of
In the hours following the massacre and on the following nights many thousands of middle class young people and others gathered to express their stunned outrage and comfort each other. Whether they had ever read the magazine or not, they carried signs saying "Je suis Charlie" to express solidarity with what they viewed as a symbol of a critical spirit they wanted to defend. They also chanted "Pas d'amalgame" (Don't mix things up), meaning don't use this to attack Muslims in general. The strong fear that it would – and that the future would be much worse than the present – heightened the tragic atmosphere.
But regardless of these concerns, the official response has had nothing to do with defending freedom of expression or any other kind of real freedom. President Francois Hollande staged two major public ceremonies following the Islamist attacks. One was a symbolic march from Place de la Republique in which 44 heads of state and government, the people in charge of perpetrating and maintaining the intolerable world order, literally walked arm in arm. The other was to award the highest rank in the Legion of Honour to the three police killed in the attacks.
In the name of defending democracy against Islamism, parliament immediately voted to reaffirm French participation in the U.S.-led war in
Between 9-13 January, at least six people were arrested, immediately tried under special procedures and sentenced to prison terms ranging from three months to four years for "public apology for terrorist act". None were accused of any connection with jihadi groups or violent acts. Five were convicted of mouthing off to police while getting a ticket and/or in a state of extreme drunkenness, and one for comments on his Facebook page. It has been announced that police and prosecutors will pay special attention to rap videos, because they often express the kind of "hate speech" to be banned – hatred for the police and the unjust social order the police enforce. The police specialize in making life hell for youth in the country's public housing ghettos long before Islamism (movements for an Islamic state) was very influential there, and the repression of this "dangerous class" has come to the top of the government's agenda.
A large section of France's lower classes (although far from all), and the most politically and socially oppressed, are the children of people from French colonies brought to work in the country's assembly plants, construction sites and service industries. Because
Today' global collision between Western imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism is conditioning developments in these ghettos. Just as Islamism has wrongly come to be seen as a challenge to all that France and the West have inflicted on Africa and the Middle East, many French people whose origins lie in those countries (and even converts from among the poor of other origins) have wrongly come to see a reactionary, anti-people Islamic fundamentalism as a solution to the humiliation and misery inflicted upon them.
The concept of secularism (separation of church and state) arose out of the needs of the French bourgeoisie in its revolution against the feudal monarchy and a century of political battles against the Catholic Church, the chief representative of remnants of the old order. But in the mouths of the French ruling class today, it is little more than a code word for anti-Islamism, which in turn is driven not by disdain for religion but for the people who hold a particular set of religious beliefs, as if their religion were a sign of their inferiority and therefore a justification for their exclusion from certain privileges and their place in society. This is closely linked to
not a purely religious question, but as an attack on people's identity and dignity as human beings.
Now even pro-government Muslims and Islamic organizations are being asked to take a public stand against terrorism, at least that kind of terrorism that
Those who warn that the massacres will "feed the ambitions of the far right" are not wrong, but the necessities faced by French imperialism overall should also be taken into account. The conditions that help foster the rise of Islamic fundamentalism have been created by the workings of monopoly capital itself, in
In a way, the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the supermarket slaughter could be considered a godsend for the French ruling class. These events have galvanized much of its squabbling ranks and called them to attention, served as a pretext for ratcheting up long-standing repression and foreign invasions, and above all, enabled it to bring a far broader section of the middle classes into greater support for its reactionary projects. No matter what many people may think "national unity" means right now – whether free speech, no exclusion of minorities, defence of secularism or even a "republican unity" against the fascist right – in reality it means rallying around a system and state – and its armed enforcers at home and abroad – that causes terrible suffering around the world and in France itself.
The attack on Charlie Hebdo is being called the equivalent of 11 September 2001 in the
The polarisation of the population in
An increasing number of people in
(Based in part on a report from a reader in