The terrorist attacks in Paris were a shocking demonstration of random acts of violence with innocent people and police officers killed. The centre of the focus is on the killing of several members of staff of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the upholding of freedom of speech and the freedom of the press.
As any sane individual will understand, the acts of violence do not represent the world of Islam, a fundamentally peaceful religion. They are the acts of extremists who will use any excuse, primarily their religion, to pursue and impose their political and cultural ideals. It is an age old delusion of the human condition from the Crusades of the middle ages to Northern Ireland, Bosnia and many others in recent times.
The rally in Paris and memorial events in other places in the world were admirable, as an act of remembrance for those killed, and as a voice against the attack on freedom of speech. The coming together of many thousands of people in unity and peace to voice a common concern was right but let’s look at some details.
Many rallies and demonstrations are led by a few high profile individuals, Trade Union leaders or politicians. However, in Paris some 40 world leaders and statesmen weaselled their way to the front of the march. Touted as showing the importance of the march, the truth is startling. Daniel Wickman, a student at the London School of economics, compiled a list of some of those attending. Those individuals are enemies of free speech and/or free press. see the list here.
So what were they doing there, rubbing shoulders with true believers in free speech? One could speculate endlessly, but it is shear hypocrisy.
Where lies the greatest threat to freedom of speech? Is it Islamic extremists, or is it closer to home? In common with most western nations, the government is the biggest threat in France. The country has laws which criminalise speech which insults, defames or incites hatred, discrimination or violence on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, sex or sexual orientation. Such laws are common in civilised countries, the ethos is not that you can anything you want to anybody, no matter how insulting or hurtful that may be, but that “freedom of expression should be exercised in a spirit of responsibility”. This is a quote from President Jacques Chirac, in 2006 when Charlie Hebdo reprinted controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad which first appeared in a Danish newspaper. It was condemned by Jacques Chirac who warned against such “obvious provocations”.
I would suggest the laws against provocative publication, which have been used against Charlie Hebdo in the past, have not been upheld due to the general backlash against Muslim extremism. One rule for some, another for others.
We can condemn, rightly, the atrocities but we must ask ourselves should we allow overt, purposefully insulting and defamatory words and images to be published in the name of art and freedom of speech? The law says not, and I believe the enlightened consciousness says not.
Ask yourself what our ‘leaders’ may be walking us into. Al Queda and ISIS are trying to lead the west into an all out ground war against Islam. The west is not playing ball, at the moment, but air attacks in Iraq by western forces continue. On Tuesday the French Government voted, overwhelmingly, to extend airstrikes on the Islamic State, clearly a reaction to the terrorist attacks in France.
The politicians who used the rally for their own agenda, turning the outrage of the masses into their own personal opportunity for self-proclamation may well be the ones sending our troops out to another war of attrition in coming weeks, marching into battle with “jesuischarlie” banners flying.
I am supportive of the rally in France, but it is not as clear cut as the mainstream media make out, the situation is being turned into a confusing picture, smoke and mirrors. I could write much, much more, and more has been written, the truth is out there if you search for it.
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