The Real Implications for People and Their Rights After Attack on Charlie Hebdo

France

Canadian Articles by TML:

Descent into Unprecedented State of
Anarchy and Violence

As horrendous as the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo was, most alarming is the fact that France has descended into an unprecedented state of anarchy and violence. The people are held hostage to its crisis-ridden measures which only further deepen the all-sided crisis in which France is mired.

On January 7, according to reports, two gunmen broke into the offices of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding 11 others. Numerous arrests were made throughout France while the police conducted a manhunt. By the end of the week, a full-scale occupation of the community of Dammartin-en-Goele, 35 kilometers northeast of Paris, where the two suspects were said to have held hostages in an industrial building, resulted in the killing of the two suspects by police forces. Meanwhile, all kinds of other attacks, hostage-taking, killings and bomb alerts occurred simultaneously throughout France, including attacks on mosques; the killing of a 25-year old police officer and wounding of a municipal worker in Montrouge, a southern suburb of Paris; and the attack on a supermarket at Porte de Vincennes, east of Paris, where an armed man took at least five hostages. The siege at Porte de Vincennes lasted three hours and ended with the killing of the suspect and four hostages.


Results of a grenade attack on a kebab restaurant in Villefranche-sur-Saone, January 8, 2015.
This is just one of the instances of anarchy and violence breaking out in France
following the attack on Charlie Hebdo.
Following the January 7 attack, French authorities raised the national terror alert to its highest level and deployed soldiers in Paris through the public transport system, at media offices, mosques and other places of worship. Repeated demonstrations have been convoked at Place de la République in Paris, including a gathering of 35,000 people on the day of the attack, as well as in Toulouse, Nice, Lyon, Marseille and Rennes. This has all been accompanied by massive media disinformation about the suspects’ motives, links and whereabouts as well as official hysteria and confusion-mongering about the nature of the attack and how the danger to the people poses itself.

The police mobilizations, lock-downs and occupations of entire neighbourhoods are a tragic reminder for the French people of the state of powerlessness they experienced during the occupation of France in 1940-44.

What to make of these events? A hue and cry has been raised about the need to protect freedom of expression. Canada’s Prime Minister said the only aim of those who committed these barbaric acts “is to usurp the rights of freedom-loving people everywhere, including the fundamental right of freedom of expression.” “This barbaric act, along with recent attacks in Sydney, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, and Ottawa, is a grim reminder that no country is immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world… Canada and its allies will not be intimidated and will continue to stand firmly together against terrorists who would threaten the peace, freedom and democracy our countries so dearly value. Canadians stand with France on this dark day,” the Prime Minister’s statement said.


French police at the site of a grenade attack on a mosque in Le Mans, January 8, 2015.

He was joined by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard who said “never shall we bow to these acts of intimidation, violence and hatred.” The entire French language media in Quebec joined in what they called an act of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo by printing cartoons desecrating the Prophet Muhammad, claiming it was to defend freedom of expression. Newspaper headlines declared the attack on Charlie Hebdo “An Act of War” and cried out “Freedom of Expression Under Attack” and “Growing Fear of Islamophobia.” The usual expert panels of Radio-Canada and TVA were brought in to demand more security measures and justify the assault of governments such as the Harper dictatorship on privacy and other rights. English language media, including the CBC and The Montreal Gazette, owned by Postmedia, did not carry the cartoons saying their policy is to respect the sensitivity of Muslims but they also described it as an attack on freedom of expression. In an editorial, the Gazette said the most fitting reply is Voltaire’s famous declaration, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Whatever stance these forces have decided to take to show solidarity with the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, all of them have in common the view that the fight of the peoples of the world today is not between the Old and the New but between an alleged good and an alleged evil, between allegedly progressive and civilized forces in the world who of course happen to be of European descent against an allegedly backward Islamic fundamentalist world of terrorism. The fact that the methods used by the so-called civilized world to fight the uncivilized world are the same as those they claim to decry is to remain hidden. Those methods have long been repudiated by the peoples of the world yet the so-called civilized world admits to torture to secure intelligence, the use of violence to sort out problems between nations, revenge-killings, preventative arrests and indefinite detention. These are not methods to secure the peace. This is outright state terrorism to further the aims of destabilizing rivals and acquiring spheres of influence. But besides this, what is most irrational, to say the least, is to speak of “freedom of speech” to promote a content such as that carried by Charlie Hebdo which contains not one shred of enlightenment.

In fact, what is called the legitimate satirical content of Charlie Hebdo is not only despicable and pathetic but anti-social. It is despicable because it is designed to incite passions to gain notoriety. It is pathetic because it uses one of the great ideals of the enlightenment movement — freedom of speech — to push obscurantism on a scale as great if not greater than that used by the Church in medieval times. It is anti-social because its aim is to promote backwardness and fratricidal wars.

All of it reveals the profound crisis of the European nation-state that has been imposed on all countries in the world. While it emerged in the great struggle against medievalism in the European context, today it has been dismantled only to be replaced with every medieval dictum possible, such as Might Makes Right and no power to the people; no rights, only privileges, no due process of any kind; only the ability of those who have usurped power by force to declare people to be outlaws and suspend their rights and do the same to entire countries and peoples. The values and state arrangements the reactionary forces are inciting the intelligentsia in Europe and the Anglo-American world to defend are totally out of whack with the requirements of the peoples of all countries in the world in the twenty-first century. Progress requires enlightenment. Is that not what the men and women of the Renaissance taught us when they ushered in the Age of Reason? Is that not what Voltaire was saying when he espoused the rights of man all those years ago?[1]

Shame on the official circles including the major newspapers in Canada and Quebec for promoting backwardness and obscurantism in the name of freedom of expression. If they believe in such freedom then why do they not tolerate the promotion of what they call Islamic terrorist views? Who decides which views should be given freedom of expression? That is the question.

After the Second World War, no fascist views were to be given freedom of expression. Humanity so decided. It was written in their blood. Today, those who have seized power by force have overthrown all the enlightened values and views humanity has brought forth since feudalism was overthrown and the peoples striving for empowerment made their mark. Once again, it is the peoples striving for empowerment who must prevail. The battle of democracy must be fought all over again. Out with the Old! In with the New!

Note

1. Regarding the Enlightenment, French Wikipedia states:

“The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement launched in Europe in the eighteenth century (1715-1789), which aimed to overcome obscurantism and promote knowledge. Philosophers and intellectuals encouraged science through intellectual exchange and opposition to superstition, intolerance and abuse of Church and State. The term ‘Enlightenment’ was established by custom to bring together the diverse manifestations of this set of aims, trends of thought or sensibilities and historical actors.” (Translated by TML.)

Regarding the origin of “freedom of expression”:

“Freedom of expression goes back to the Western world. It is a secular tradition, republican and democratic, that began to emerge in the late seventeenth century. Before, it was a freedom reserved for royal authorities, stately or religious.

“Freedom of expression is probably more associated with the French Revolution. The 1789 French revolutionaries claimed that freedom because, for them, it was a fundamental freedom that was essential to the establishment of the new regime. The French people were freed from the trusteeship of absolute monarchy. Their representatives in the National Assembly saw everyone, men and women, as equal and having the same fundamental rights. In this sense, the National Assembly passed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and and of the Citizen, August 26, 1789. From then on, all the actions of the authorities had to respect the simple but fundamental rules enshrined in the Declaration, which was intended to avoid the abuse of power. French law does not recognize, strictly speaking, freedom of expression, but articles of the Declaration implicitly show the idea of ‘freedom of expression.’ Article 10 says, ‘No one should be anxious about their opinions […] provided their demonstrations do not disturb the public order established by the law.’ Article 11 states, ‘The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious rights of man; any citizen may therefore speak, write and publish freely, subject to responsibility for the abuse of this freedom as shall be defined by law.'” (Ensemble scolaire Le Mirail de Bordeaux, translated by TML.)

(Photos: RT, Ouest France)

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Rabid Demonization of
Popular Resistance as “Terrorism”

Coupled with the unprecedented ramping-up of a generalized atmosphere of anarchy and violence as we have seen in France this week, is the rabid demonization of popular resistance as “terrorism” — especially in major zones of military conflict across wide swaths of the Middle East. It has never been more imperative to continue categorically condemning actual terrorist acts such as the attack on Charlie Hebdo while differentiating such outrages from acts of just and necessary popular resistance as seen in Palestine.

There have been a number of attentats similar to those in Paris in the UK over the last several months, including the slaughter in broad daylight of a serving soldier near his base in the East End of London. Government and the media there routinely hype each of these events as “Islamic terrorism” to confound the legitimate resistance struggles with revenge-seeking and acts of random terror.

This week there is the chaos in France with three distinct incidents following the attack on Charlie Hebdo — one at a Kosher grocery store, one near Charles de Gaulle airport and one near the Eiffel Tower. The authorities closed Paris’ ring road, equivalent to closing the 401 through Toronto. Amongst other objectives, that act seems aimed at isolating the biggest of the Muslim suburbs from “proper Frenchmen” inside the arrondissements.

A few weeks ago we saw the incidents at St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa being used to hype up an entire atmosphere of anarchy, violence and uncertainty. In Quebec in the wake of this week’s Paris events, there has been a renewed demonizing of “Muslims” as evil outsiders. The U.S. and Canadian establishment are up to something very dark. Many are losing their bearings completely.

We condemn the latest terrorist outrages. We condemn governments and their stooges deliberately mixing up terrorism and acts of just and necessary popular resistance such as the Gazans’ resistance to Israeli aggression. Regardless of their claims to be interested in protecting freedom of speech, those governments and their agencies have been fuelling the general atmosphere of anarchy and violence, and are to be condemned first and foremost for such incitements.

The Real Implications for People and Their Rights After Attack on Charlie Hebdo

Whether or not the French state and/or “far right” are implicated in the attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7, it bears certain similarities to the 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S. World Trade Centre in 2001. As in the United States in 2001, the French monopoly capitalists and sections of the financial oligarchy (as well as those of the U.S and Canada) are taking full advantage of the attack on the magazine to obfuscate things. They have been at least partially successful so far in mobilizing people on a racist basis to support their agenda of interference and aggression in the Middle East; to escalate racist attacks against specific members of the population at home; and to intensify surveillance and control of the population as a whole. All the while, diverting attention from the increasingly severe economic and political crisis in which they are mired, in the hopes that they can make the people pay for the crises that they alone are responsible for.

It is informative to look at the history of the Charlie Hebdo (summarized by Wikipedia), in order to better clarify what its role has been — intentionally or otherwise — in promoting the above agenda.

Magazine Editors at First Appear to Be Progressive “Leftists”

In 1996, three of the staff members/editors of Charlie Hebdo (François Cavanna, Stéphane Charbonnier and Philippe Val) gathered and filed 173,704 signatures of people who supported a ban on the Front National — the nationalist political party founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1972, characterized as “far right” and “anti-immigrant” (specifically non-European immigrants). The proposed ban was on the basis that statements and policies of the Front National contravened five articles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (a document drawn up after the bourgeois democratic revolution of 1789 in France). In addition to the anti-immigrant stance of that party, other major policies included “economic protectionism” (support for nationalization of certain industries) and a strict “law and order” agenda. According to Wikipedia, its policy toward deportations of immigrants is “more moderate today than it was at its most radical point in the 1990s.”[1]

An About Face

The seemingly progressive stance of the weekly, however, changed sharply around the year 2000, when one of its journalists “was sacked after she had protested against a Philippe Val article which called Palestinians ‘non-civilized.'” Then, in 2006, the magazine reprinted the twelve racist cartoons of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten which ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad, engendering the “controversy” that deeply divided the people of Denmark; it also added more such cartoons of its own. A number of Islamic organizations sued the editor Val for publishing racist material.

Calling the cartoons “overt provocations,” the French President Jacques Chirac stated, “Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided.” Future President Nicolas Sarkozy, on the other hand, “sent a letter to be read in court expressing his support for the ancient French tradition of satire,” while François Hollande “expressed his support for freedom of expression.” In 2007, Val was acquitted by the courts. The magazine published another provocative edition in November 2011, following which their Paris office was fire-bombed in the middle of the night, and its website hacked. In September 2012, the magazine published yet more cartoons of Muhammad, some of them pornographic, at which time “riot police surrounded the office to protect it from possible attacks.”

On January 1, 2015, according to the New York Post, Charbonnier, the current editor of Charlie Hebdo published a taunting cartoon entitled “Still no attacks in France,” featuring “a caricature of a Muslim fighter saying, ‘Just wait — we have until the end of January to present our New Year’s wishes.'” Then on January 7 came the mid-morning attack on the magazine’s editorial board.

According to International Business Times, “the situation could make for favorable polling numbers for Le Pen” whose party has “reiterated its condemnation of Islam, and called for the reinstatement of the death penalty.”

Cynical Use of Principle of “Free Speech”

Large numbers of people have been mobilized to condemn the attack on Charlie Hebdo, but not on the basis of getting to the bottom of what exactly happened, why it happened and who is responsible. Rather, they are being mobilized in an anti-conscious and hysterical manner to believe that they are supporting the principle of “free speech.” The “free speech” that the editors of that magazine were claiming to uphold, which was tied to their stance that “they are against religion in general” was, in fact, based on libertarianism dating from the eighteenth century in France. Many of the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo hearken back to libertine novels of the eighteenth century that featured pornographic cartoons and prose depicting priests and nuns.

The claim to be exercising free speech by the editors of Charlie Hebdo in the twenty-first century, however, when the absolute rule of Church and State has long since been abolished, is disingenuous at best. Is it “standing up for your rights” and “exercising the right to free speech” to attack the sensibilities of the members of a particular minority group in the society? Rather, exercising such a “right” is a libertarian license to do exactly what one feels like doing whether or not this be at the expense of other members of the society. In the final analysis, a libertarian call to the right to free speech in the twenty-first century, is a call for bourgeois individual rights at the expense of collective rights.

Human Rights Must Mean More than Bourgeois Individual Rights

In writing about the issue of nation-building in Canada, Hardial Bains touches on the issue of the relation between individual rights and the collective rights of the members of a society in the twenty-first century:

“There came a time when a break took place with the medieval attitude; people were then defined according to their individual rights …The aim was set so that all the resources available to society would be directed towards the greater glory of individual rights. However, this then blocked the satisfaction of collective rights.”[2]

Harmonizing individual rights with those of the collective rights of everyone else in the society can be realized only through formulating a new Constitution and developing a new political mechanism to make that possible.

Notes

1. According to Reseau Voltaire, which describes itself as “a web of non-aligned press groups dedicated to the analysis of international relations,” Charlie Hebdo was established in 1992, with secret funding from the office of then French President François Mitterrand. Charlie Hebdo was a member of Reseau Voltaire before withdrawing in 1997 over a disagreement with the network. At that time, Charlie Hebdo was campaigning for a complete ban of the right-wing Front National (FN). Meanwhile Reseau Voltaire defended the right to association of FN members while campaigning for the prohibition of its armed wing the DPS. Thereafter, the relationship between Charlie Hebdo and the network deteriorated. Charlie Hebdo attributed the 9/11 attacks to Al Qaeda and launched a vicious anti-Islamic campaign. For its part, Reseau Voltaire maintained that the official version of events was impossible and attributed the attacks to a faction of the U.S. military-industrial lobby. Finally, in 2007, the director of Charlie Hebdo became close to then President Nicolas Sarkozy, giving instructions to remove the chairman of Reseau Voltaire, who then went into exile.

2. TML Weekly, January 3, 2015, No. 1.

References

“Nation-Building in Canada Can Mean Only One Thing,” TML Weekly, January 3, 2015, No. 1.

“Charlie Hebdo,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Hebdo, retrieved January 8, 2015.

“National Front (France),” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Front_(France)#View_on_Nazi _history_and_relations_with_Jewish_groups, retrieved January 8, 2015.

A False Flag Operation?

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, in an article posted on his website on January 8 wrote that the terrorist attack in Paris was a false flag operation “designed to shore up France’s vassal status to Washington.”

“The suspects can be both guilty and patsies. Just remember all the terrorist plots created by the FBI that served to make the terrorism threat real to Americans,” he wrote.

He said that the French economy is suffering from the U.S.-imposed sanctions against Russia. “Shipyards are impacted from being unable to deliver Russian orders due to France’s vassalage status to Washington, and other aspects of the French economy are being adversely impacted by sanctions that Washington forced its NATO puppet states to apply to Russia.”

Dr. Roberts stated that French President François Hollande this week said that the sanctions against Russia should end. “This is too much foreign policy independence on France’s part for Washington.”

He added that the CIA has apparently resurrected a policy that it followed against Europeans during the post-WW II era when the U.S. spy agency would carry out attacks in European states and blame them on communist groups.

Dr. Roberts said now the U.S. agencies have planned false flag operations in Europe to create hatred against Muslims and bring European countries under the U.S. sphere of influence.

He noted that “the attack on Charlie Hebdo was an inside job and that people identified by NSA as hostile to the Western wars against Muslims are going to be framed for an inside job designed to pull France firmly back under Washington’s thumb.”

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