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CREAGH, Ronald: France’s September 11

Tuesday 13 January 2015

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The assassination of Charlie Hebdo artists and editors is not France’s September 11.

The assassination of Charlie Hebdo Artists and Editors is not France’s September 11. Moreover, the murderers have not attacked the offices of a prestigious newspaper like Le Monde, but a small, sassy weekly, courageous and poor. Their act was directed against freedom of expression. Although there may have been political manipulation involved, the inspiration is religious: a fatwa has been issued and it has been applied against atheists by individuals convinced to perform an exalted religious act, stifling free speech.

The ordinary people who came out spontaneously in a surprising number of countries have understood correctly. They have addressed their tributes to the unarmed guerrillas of the country of Voltaire, to the heirs of the Enlightenment, the revolutionaries who fought for a libertarian republic, the children of May 1968. They have not shouted "I am France" but "I am Charlie." This is without doubt the first time a global movement is mobilizing for freedom of expression.

The monarchs of old ruled in the name of divine right. The attackers, in their turn, hold themselves up as judges in the name of god. They killed atheists, but probably also some believers. Unfortunately, militias in quest of new sovereignties are proliferating today: children recruited by force, bewitched by charismatic young recruiters; also former mercenaries, fatalistic asses or greedy thoughtless fools, previously trained and paid by foreign nations and capitalist consortiums.

The families of the cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Wolinski, Tignous and Honoré, the economist and columnist Bernard Maris, the copy editor Mustafa Ourrad, the analyst and columnist Elsa Cayat, the former chief of staff of the mayor of Clermont, Michel Renaud, the maintenance man, Frédéric Boisseau, an officer of the protection service, Franck Brinsolaro, a police officer, Merabet Ahmed, are all entitled to our solidarity. The Jewish community, persecuted once more, also deserves support and protection.

The political class will attempt to present the case as a war against France. This explanation is intended to rally voters, but it does not hold water. The main Islamist groups have not claimed credit for the murders. And the explanation is double-edged, limiting discussion to the national terrain, it locks the discussion into the trap of xenophobia. It is a diversion from the real issue, which far exceeds the national question, and threatens freedom of expression for the exploited classes everywhere. As for the French state, which claims to be defending freedom of expression, it ignores the fact that it once banned the newspaper Hara Kiri, the predecessor of Charlie Hebdo.

At this point, we must deny those who want to control us the right to remain hidden from view. It is certainly easier to parade heavy weapons in the Roma camps or in public squares than to challenge areas of permanent lawlessness: the club of arms dealers, the international mafias, not to mention people who enjoy political immunity, in other words, those at the highest levels of the state. And can we go along with an institution that continues to do business with countries that finance and arm the Syrian jihadists? What are the real intentions of the state as it decrees national mourning?

Finally, what is going on in Brussels is also relevant: the EU’s ongoing negotiations with the United States could open the door for the total freedom of big business. The agreements under discussion could even allow a company to sue a country that would prohibit the free sale of weapons. It is already possible to practice using Kalashnikovs in France, under the eyes of the police.

If it is possible for the emotions of the population to be so easily manipulated for political ends, what are the limits of the hypocrisy involved?