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Je ne suis pas Charlie (I am not Charlie)

category france / belgium / luxemburg | migration / racism | opinion / analysis author Monday January 12, 2015 06:29author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D. Report this post to the editors

Translator: Evelin Cotella. Correction by Diarmuid Breatnach

To begin with, let me make it clear from the outset that I consider the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to be an atrocity and that I do not believe that it is justifiable under any circumstances to make a military target of a journalist, no matter what our opinion on the quality of his journalism may be. The same is valid in France, as it is in Colombia or in Palestine. Also, nor do I identify with any fundamentalism, whether it be Christian, Jewish or Muslim, nor indeed with Frenchified mock-secularism either, which makes a goddess of the “République”. [Castellano] [Türkçe] [Italiano] [ελληνικά]
kalvellido_charlie_hebdo_1.jpg


Je ne suis pas Charlie (I am not Charlie)

To begin with, let me make it clear from the outset that I consider the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to be an atrocity and that I do not believe that it is justifiable under any circumstances to make a military target of a journalist, no matter what our opinion on the quality of his journalism may be. The same is valid in France, as it is in Colombia or in Palestine. Also, nor do I identify with any fundamentalism, whether it be Christian, Jewish or Muslim, nor indeed with Frenchified mock-secularism either, which makes a goddess of the “République”.

I present these necessary explanations since no matter how much the high priests of politics insist that we live under an “exemplary democracy” with “great liberties”, we all know that Big Brother is watching us and that any speech outside the script is severely punished. But I believe that to condemn the attack on Charlie Hebdo is not the same as celebrating a magazine that is, fundamentally, a monument to intolerance, racism and colonial arrogance.

Thousands, understandably affected by this attack, have circulated messages saying “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), as if this message were the ultimate expression in defence of freedom. Well, then, I am not Charlie. I do not identify with the degrading and caricaturing representation of the Islamic world, taking place in the middle of the “War against terrorism” era, with all the racist and colonialist baggage this entails.

I cannot view with equanimity the constant symbolic aggression that has as its counterpart a physical and real aggression, which is the bombing and military occupation of countries belonging to this cultural horizon. Nor can I happily see these cartoons and their offensive texts with a light heart, when Arabs are one of the most marginalized, impoverished and exploited sectors of French society which has historically been brutally treated. I do not forget that in the early 1960s, in the Paris Metro, the police massacred 200 Algerians by clubbing, just because the latter were demanding an end to the French occupation of their country, which had already led to a total of a million dead “uncivilized” Arabs.

This is not about innocent cartoons drawn by free thinkers but rather about messages produced by mass media (yes, though in an alternative posture, Chalie Hebdo is part of the mass media), loaded with hatred and stereotypes reinforcing a discourse that considers the Arabs as barbarians to be contained, uprooted, controlled, repressed, oppressed and exterminated. These are messages the implicit purpose of which is to justify the invasions of Middle Eastern countries as well as the many interventions and bombings orchestrated in the West in defence of the new imperial map. The Spanish film actor Willy Toledo controversially commented, no more than was obvious, that “The West kills every day. Silently.” And that is what Charlie and his black humour hides under the cover of satire.

I do not forget the front cover of Charlie Hebdo issue N°1099, in which it trivialized the massacre of more than a thousand Egyptians by a brutal military dictatorship which has the approval of the USA and of France, carrying a cartoon with a text declaring “Slaughter in Egypt. The Koran is shit: it doesn't stop bullets.” The cartoon showed a Muslim man riddled with bullets that had passed through a copy of the Koran, with which he had been trying to protect himself. Perhaps some find this funny. In their time too, the English colonists in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, thought it funny to have photographs of themselves taken, with wide smiles and rifle in hand, a foot on the corpses of the still-warm and bleeding bodies of the native people they had hunted.

Rather than funny, that cartoon to me seems violent and colonialist, an abuse of the fictitious and manipulated western freedom of the press. How would people react if I were to design a magazine cover bearing the following text: “Slaughter in Paris. Charlie Hebdo is shit: it doesn’t stop bullets” and made a cartoon of the deceased and gunned-down Jean Cabut holding a copy of the magazine in his hands? Clearly that would be outrageous: the life of a Frenchman is sacred. The life of an Egyptian (or Palestinian, Iraqi, a Syrian, etc.) is “humoristic” material. For that reason I am not Charlie, because for me, the life of each one of those Egyptians massacred is as sacred as is any of those caricaturists assassinated today.

We already know what to expect now: there will be speeches defending press freedom from countries which in 1999 gave their blessing to the NATO bombing of the Serbian public TV station in Belgrade, calling it “the Ministry of Lies”; countries that remained silent while Israel bombed the Al-Manar TV station in Beirut in 2006; those that respond with silence to the murders of Colombian and Palestinian critical journalists.

After the beautiful pro-freedom rhetoric will come the liberticide action: more McCarthyism, disguised colonial “anti-terrorism”, more colonial interventions, more restrictions of those “democratic guarantees” threatened with extinction and, of course, more racism. Europe is consumed in a spiral of xenophobic hatred, islamophobia, anti-semitism (in fact, the Palestinians are Semitic) and this atmosphere has reached unbearable levels. The Muslims are already the Jews of 21st Century Europe and neo-Nazi parties are becoming respectable again, 80 years later, thanks to this detestable feeling.

Because of all this, in spite of the feelings of repulsion engendered in me by the Paris attack, Je ne suis pas Charlie.

José Antonio Gutiérrez D.
7 January, 2015

author by Markos Trogotopublication date Mon Jan 12, 2015 19:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

BAD NEWS OF THE DAY: The Terrorists' International protesting for freedom of speech and the values of French colonialism.

THE EVEN WORSE NEWS: Millions are the MINDLESS SHEEP which allowed this gang of assassins to lead their protest. No hope for the French Republic, no hope for the French society.

We Greeks are delighted that Antonis Samaras ("The asshole" according to L' Express and Figaro), PM of Greece, ranks 11th in the bottom-20 of "world leaders" participating in the protest.

Here's the list (data gathered by Daniel Wickham)

1) King Abdullah of Jordan, which last year sentenced a Palestinian journalist to 15 years in prison with hard labour
2) Prime Minister of Davutoglu of Turkey, which imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world
3) Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, whose forced killed 7 journalists in Gaza last yr (second highest after Syria)
4) Foreign Minister Shoukry of Egypt, which as well as AJ staff has detained journalist Shawkan for around 500 days
5) Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia, which last year jailed a journalist for "insulting a government servant"
6) Foreign Minister Lamamra of Algeria, which has detained journalist Abdessami Abdelhai for 15 months without charge
7) The Foreign Minister of the UAE, which in 2013 held a journo incommunicado for a month on suspicion of MB links
8) Prime Minister Jomaa of Tunisia, which recently jailed blogger Yassine Ayan for 3 years for "defaming the army"
9) The PMs of Georgia and Bulgaria, both of whom have a record of attacking & beating journos
10) The Attorney General of the US, where police in Ferguson have recently detained and assaulted WashPost reporters
11) Prime Minister Samaras of Greece, where riot police beat & injured two journalists at a protest in June last year
12) Sec-Gen of NATO, who are yet to be held to account for deliberately bombing and killing 16 Serbian journos in '99
13) President Keita of Mali, where journalists are expelled for covering human rights abuses
14) The Foreign Minister of Bahrain, 2nd biggest jailer of journos in the world per capita (they also torture them)
15) Sheikh Mohamed Ben Hamad Ben Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar, which jailed a man for 15 ys for writing the Jasmine poem
16) Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who had several journalists jailed for insulting him in 2013
17) Prime Minister Cerar of Slovenia, which sentenced a blogger to six months in prison for "defamation" in 2013
18) Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland, where "blasphemy" is considered a criminal offense
19) Prime Minister Kopacz of Poland, which raided a magazine to seize recordings embarrassing for the ruling party
20) PM Cameron of the UK, where authorities destroyed documents obtained by The Guardian and threatened prosecution

Good job, supporters of "je suis Charlie" campaign. Seldom ever have we seen human imbecility undermining so effectively its own cause, in so few days.

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author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Tue Jan 13, 2015 21:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What follows is comradely disagreement.

Indeed, comrade, I can agree that the slogan "I am Charlie" is problematic: it leads to identifying with a dubious paper; and I agree too, that we can support free speech (as a principle) without veiling our criticisms of hate speech and incitement -- including against Arabs in France.

I also agree with a second comment which indicates the rank hypocrisy of Western money-lords and Arab oil-kings in speaking of free speech, given their economic and political atrocities ... and the gross site of these thugs heading marches for "free speech", which they do not allow when they can avoid it ...

There we agree. But what is missing here, and I think its a gap in our current more generally, is a clear, stated, position on extreme right communal movements, including what I will call (for what of a better term) radical Islamism (also taking care to distinguish this movement from Islam in general, which has many strands).

When we focus our points on the hypocrisy of Western and Eastern elites, and when we take care to distinguish our views from those magazines like "Charlie," our job is incomplete.

Valuable work is done, but the job is not complete. I admit it is easy to criticize an article for what it does not say, but it is also essential that we say something at some point on these sorts of movements. Certainly movements like ISIS and Boko Haram and Al Qaeda are persecutors in their own rights, and by no means a force of small minorities in their core territories; certainly they feed on misery, and draw in the wretched, and certainly they are often anti-imperialist -- but this does not make them anything automatically progressive.

To put this another way, it is not simply offensive satire that drives jihadists, but a political project that poses issues like blasphemy and secularism as enemies. It is not simply miserable conditions that makes jihadists, since many of the key activists are from the middle strata, and many of the funders, from the ruling classes. Therefore, we cannot comment on the "Charlie" issue fully, if we leave out this set of dynamics.

Yes, the context of (for example) French-Algerian repression matters, but the project is more than this. It is not simply an event in France that we need to be talking about here: the same days saw Boko Haram commit another massacre in Nigeria; we stand in solidarity with Rojava despite the limitations of PKK, in part because it is fighting the ultra-reactionary ISIS... the jihadists in France cannot be delinked from this larger world, they are profoundly *internationalist* and conditions in France are by no means the primary trigger of such attacks.

When, comrade, you even speak of the Muslims as "the Jews" of the C21, complete with the threat of "Nazis," then I wonder.

How, exactly, are Muslims, in general, specifically oppressed? Certainly in some Western countries, Muslim minorities face prejudice and discrimination, but (unlike the Jews of the 1930s), and perhaps this is the reference point you have for your statements, there are dozens of Muslim-identified states, with armies; formidable and often sub-imperial in power ...

And on a larger scale, this analogy with the 1930s Jews is problematic. In many countries where insurgent Islamic movements exist, Muslims do not face any specific persecution; movements like ISIS and Boko Haram (or let us move to Pakistan, or Indonesia, or Philippines ...) are persecutors, even if rebels. They feed on misery, and certainly they are often anti-imperialist -- but this does not make them anything automatically progressive... Compared to the often frankly trivial European far-right (let alone "fascist") movements that exist in much of West Europe (yet which greatly excite the far left -- while being largely ignored by the masses), these movements are mass far-right movements ... yet the silence is pretty marked on them. Can one imagine such silence if a European Nazi party had a militia and territory on the scale of Boko Haram?

Nor are imperialist attacks on Middle Eastern countries specific attacks on Muslims, since they involve attacks on secularists (let us include the Baathist regime's toppling in Iraq here), the hoisting into power of radical Islamists (Iraq post-Hussein), and such countries are by no means homogeneously Muslim (whatever their regimes pretend), just as much as Arab is not equivalent to Muslim. In Nigeria, how is a northern Muslim more oppressed than a southern Christian? Both are affected by imperialism, the local plutocracy and so on, but there is not a simple mapping onto religious grounds.

I am sure you know all this, but I felt compelled to say it; I have seen so much "left" material in the last few days that tails the jihadists, that I think we should do something better.

Red and black regards
Lucien

author by Sam Berckmanpublication date Wed Jan 14, 2015 04:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I share Lucien's comments on the general level. I think you are also missing the real political goal of the terror campaign.
Firstly because apart from the killing in the newspaper, there was also an antisemitic killing of 4 peoples.
This is the second time in a few year that such racist killing happens, and this needs to be also a basis for a political analysis. This is the effect of the massive spreading of antisemitic like conspiracy theories that takes root in XIXthe century european history, as a way to replace class struggle by the racist targetting of jewish people. This is also an upsurge of the french colonialist strategy that historically used antisemitism as a tool to oppose jewish and muslim people among the north-african people in order to protect the french settler colonialists projects. The colonial apparatus gave money and facilitated the antisemitic propaganda in algeria, for example, as a way to oppose jewish and muslim algerians in order to take the anger fuelled by the colonialist oppression way from the colonial apparatus, and to direct it upon the jews as a scapegoat. This was facilitated by the Frenc colonial power giving french nationality to jewish algerians with the decret Cremieux in 1865 which created a split among the algerian people upon a religious basis.
It is used since the 2005 riot to oppose the 2 minorities and try to replace class struggle by racist upsurge, pressing at the same time the jewish minority to seek safety behind the state minority (and also pressing it to supporting the zionist colonialist project).
Generally i think your piece lacks a real understanding of antisemitism which is common in the broad left. For example, there is no such thing as "semites" : it is a racial category created by european orientalists based on the fact that there was "semitic langages" (hebrews, arabic, aramean....). Jews are no more "semites" than "palestinians" or arabs are.
Antisemitism is just the name historically used to describe the specific form of racism targeting jews (or people considered as jews by descent), as islamophobia is the specific form of racism targetting muslims (or people considered as muslim by descent).
It plays a specifical role, especially in a period of capitalist crisis, based on common antijewish bias, making the real rulling class disappear by presenting jewish people as the rulling class.

Secondly, i think you miss one of the main goal of the attack, which is specifically aimed at breaking the remaining solidarity with the muslim minority in France by the left in order to aims a polarization of french society.

As Cinzia Arruzza puts it :

"Of all the targets the attackers could choose, they deliberately chose a magazine that, in spite of the controversies about the quite Islamophobic vignettes it published, still had credibility among the French Left. A magazine, moreover, that embodied a distinctively French tradition of secularist irreverence, the distinctively French pride of being free to satirize both God and the King, enjoying dwelling in the trivial obscenities of the genre. The target was politically and carefully chosen. The narrative about the direct correspondence between the publication of irreverent vignettes of Muhammad and the attack, as in some sort of mechanical cause-and-effect connection, is over-simplistic. Nor is the narrative about attacks on freedom of speech and of press sufficient to understand what is really happening. The strategy behind the attack aims at a polarization of French society, at an escalation of the conflict, and above all at the resuscitation of the mantra of “the clash of civilizations.” It further isolates the Muslim population in France (around five million people) and exposes it to a further escalation of the already worrying and rampant Islamophobia. It is pushing the white population to gather behind the banners of the national republican unity and identity perceived as under attack from the new French, that is, the Muslim French. And, in order not to leave any option of resistance other than radical Islamism to the Muslim population, it is hitting the French Left, the only barrier against an uncontrolled proliferation of Islamophobia in the country, where it hurts the most: in its troubles in dealing with France’s colonial past and legacy and in reformulating universalism in such a way as to give full inclusion to Arab and Muslim people."

http://www.publicseminar.org/2015/01/is-solidarity-with...nGcyp

author by Mehdi Hasanpublication date Wed Jan 14, 2015 18:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dear liberal pundit,

You and I didn't like George W Bush. Remember his puerile declaration after 9/11 that "either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists"? Yet now, in the wake of another horrific terrorist attack, you appear to have updated Dubya's slogan: either you are with free speech... or you are against it. Either vous êtes Charlie Hebdo... or you're a freedom-hating fanatic.

I'm writing to you to make a simple request: please stop. You think you're defying the terrorists when, in reality, you're playing into their bloodstained hands by dividing and demonising. Us and them. The enlightened and liberal west v the backward, barbaric Muslims. The massacre in Paris on 7 January was, you keep telling us, an attack on free speech. The conservative former French president Nicolas Sarkozy agrees, calling it "a war declared on civilisation". So, too, does the liberal-left pin-up Jon Snow, who crassly tweeted about a "clash of civilisations" and referred to "Europe's belief in freedom of expression".

In the midst of all the post-Paris grief, hypocrisy and hyperbole abounds. Yes, the attack was an act of unquantifiable evil; an inexcusable and merciless murder of innocents. But was it really a "bid to assassinate" free speech (ITV's Mark Austin), to "desecrate" our ideas of "free thought" (Stephen Fry)? It was a crime - not an act of war - perpetrated by disaffected young men; radicalised not by drawings of the Prophet in Europe in 2006 or 2011, as it turns out, but by images of US torture in Iraq in 2004.

Please get a grip. None of us believes in an untrammelled right to free speech. We all agree there are always going to be lines that, for the purposes of law and order, cannot be crossed; or for the purposes of taste and decency, should not be crossed. We differ only on where those lines should be drawn.

Has your publication, for example, run cartoons mocking the Holocaust? No? How about caricatures of the 9/11 victims falling from the twin towers? I didn't think so (and I am glad it hasn't). Consider also the "thought experiment" offered by the Oxford philosopher Brian Klug. Imagine, he writes, if a man had joined the "unity rally" in Paris on 11 January "wearing a badge that said 'Je suis Chérif'" - the first name of one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. Suppose, Klug adds, he carried a placard with a cartoon mocking the murdered journalists. "How would the crowd have reacted?... Would they have seen this lone individual as a hero, standing up for liberty and freedom of speech? Or would they have been profoundly offended?" Do you disagree with Klug's conclusion that the man "would have been lucky to get away with his life"?

Let's be clear: I agree there is no justification whatsoever for gunning down journalists or cartoonists. I disagree with your seeming view that the right to offend comes with no corresponding responsibility; and I do not believe that a right to offend automatically translates into a duty to offend.

When you say "Je suis Charlie", is that an endorsement of Charlie Hebdo's depiction of the French justice minister, Christiane Taubira, who is black, drawn as a monkey? Of crude caricatures of bulbous-nosed Arabs that must make Edward Said turn in his grave?

Lampooning racism by reproducing brazenly racist imagery is a pretty dubious satirical tactic. Also, as the former Charlie Hebdo journalist Olivier Cyran argued in 2013, an "Islamophobic neurosis gradually took over" the magazine after 9/11, which then effectively endorsed attacks on "members of a minority religion with no influence in the corridors of power".

It's for these reasons that I can't "be", don't want to "be", Charlie - if anything, we should want to be Ahmed, the Muslim policeman who was killed while protecting the magazine's right to exist. As the novelist Teju Cole has observed, "It is possible to defend the right to obscene... speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech."

And why have you been so silent on the glaring double standards? Did you not know that Charlie Hebdo sacked the veteran French cartoonist Maurice Sinet in 2008 for making an allegedly anti-Semitic remark? Were you not aware that Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published caricatures of the Prophet in 2005, reportedly rejected cartoons mocking Christ because they would "provoke an outcry" and proudly declared it would "in no circumstances... publish Holocaust cartoons"?

Muslims, I guess, are expected to have thicker skins than their Christian and Jewish brethren. Context matters, too. You ask us to laugh at a cartoon of the Prophet while ignoring the vilification of Islam across the continent (have you visited Germany lately?) and the widespread discrimination against Muslims in education, employment and public life - especially in France. You ask Muslims to denounce a handful of extremists as an existential threat to free speech while turning a blind eye to the much bigger threat to it posed by our elected leaders.

Does it not bother you to see Barack Obama - who demanded that Yemen keep the anti-drone journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye behind bars, after he was convicted on "terrorism-related charges" in a kangaroo court - jump on the free speech ban wagon? Weren't you sickened to see Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of a country that was responsible for the killing of seven journalists in Gaza in 2014, attend the "unity rally" in Paris? Bibi was joined by Angela Merkel, chancellor of a country where Holocaust denial is punishable by up to five years in prison, and David Cameron, who wants to ban non-violent "extremists" committed to the "overthrow of democracy" from appearing on television.

Then there are your readers. Will you have a word with them, please? According to a 2011 YouGov poll, 82% of voters backed the prosecution of protesters who set fire to poppies.

Apparently, it isn't just Muslims who get offended.

Yours faithfully,

Mehdi

author by Andrewpublication date Wed Jan 14, 2015 19:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think the problem with the way the left has often approached the racism of some Charlie Hebdo cartoons is that they have ignored the question of who has power around them. I think that central question means there isn't some sort of single right answer that anarchists can reply regardless of who is producing such images and where they produce them. There is a world of difference between their production by a group of mostly white men in Paris for instance and say a Muslim women in Istanbul or Cairo (or indeed Kobane).

author by John Glennonpublication date Wed Jan 14, 2015 21:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Indeed Andrew. That is the whole point which I think appears even clearer in his follow up article

http://anarkismo.net/article/27788

author by Peulopepublication date Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

How about caricatures of the 9/11 victims falling from the twin towers?

http://www.lepoint.fr/images/2011/11/03/428723-jpg_2864...0.jpg

It would be almost funny to see the moronic explanations on how Charlie hebdo was a nasty racist paper who had it coming from people who never opened one of its issue if it was not coming from what is supposed to be my comrades. The fact is, as much as I found problematic what the newspaper became, the people who were killed were regularly helping antiracist, pro undocumented immigrants, and pro-palestinians organizations. Their main target was the far right party front national, then the parties in power UMP and PS. When they attacked religion, they mainly attacked christianism, well before islam.

But what is more problematic than its lack of culture, and what is in my eyes, a proof of the blindness of the idiot left, is the total absence of any critics about the killers, of reflection on who they killed and why they killed.

The killers were not disenfranchised youth reacting in a bad way against their oppressors: they didn't target the racist front national, or one of the racist newspapers, or one of the many racist columnists you may find on tv or newspaper. They were fanatics, members of (or associated with) far right muslims organizations, and they attacked a leftist journal and jews. Any column which don't remember these 2 fact is simply crap.

How would the left react if they were killed by the german NPD for one the their numerous anti-far-right cover ? I bet it would not start by 'je ne suis pas Charlie'....

author by AJAMU BARAKA - Counterpunch.orgpublication date Tue Jan 20, 2015 17:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

“The “civilized” have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death; these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the conscience of civilized world.

– James Baldwin

I have witnessed the spectacle of Eurocentric arrogance many times over my long years of struggle and resistance to colonial/capitalist domination and dehumanization. The grotesque, 21st Century version of the “white man’s burden,” which asserts that the international community (meaning the West) has a moral and legal “responsibility to protect,” is one current example; the generalized acceptance by many in the West that their governments have a right to wage permanent war against the global “others” to maintain international order is another.

Yet, when I think I have seen it all, along comes the response to the attack at the racist, Islamophobic publication Charlie Hebdo. Even though I shouldn’t be surprised, I am still left in complete wonderment at the West’s unmitigated self-centeredness and self-righteous arrogance.

The millions who turned out on Sunday claimed to be marching in solidarity with the victims at Charlie Hebdo and against terrorism. They were joined by political leaders from across Europe, Israel and other parts of the world – on the same weekend reports were emerging that 2,000 Nigerians may have lost their lives at the hands of Boko Haram, another Muslim extremist group.

Surely there would be expressions of solidarity with the survivors in Nigeria at a gathering ostensibly to oppose terrorism and uphold the sanctity of life. But the expressions of solidarity never came. In fact, based on the attention the massacre received from the Western press, it was if the massacre had never happened.

It is clear that there was a different agenda for the march and a different set of concerns for Europe. The people of France mobilized themselves to defend what they saw as an attack against Western civilization. However, the events in Paris did not have to be framed as an existential attack on the imagined values of the liberal white West. Providing some context and making some political links may have been beneficial for attempting to understand what happened in the country and a political way forward beyond the appeal to racial jingoism.

The attack could have sparked an honest conversation about how many Muslims experience life in contemporary France and viewed French policies in various Muslim and Arab nations. It could have examined the relationship between the rise of radical Islam and the connection of that rise to the activities of various branches of the French intelligence services. An open discussion might have framed it as a classic blowback operation resulting from the weaponization of radical Whabbanism as a tool of Western power from the late 1970s to its current assignment in Syria. But those ideas were not allowed a forum on that massive stage.

Je Suis Charlie: European lives have always mattered more than others

The Je Suis Charlie slogan like one of those mindless advertising themes meant to appeal to the unconscious and the irrational, nevertheless, has to have cultural reference points, culturally embedded meanings that evoke the desire to want to buy a product, or in this case to identify with an imagined civilization. It does not matter that the supposed superiority of Western civilization and its values is based on constructed lies and myths, it is still the basis of a cross-class, transnational white identity.

The white identity is so powerfully inculcated while simultaneously invisibalized that identification is not seen as the essentialized identity politics that people of color supposedly engage in, instead it is just being “human.” And as we witnessed this weekend and throughout the colonial world, identification with whiteness is not limited by one’s racial or national assignment.

It is not necessary in this short essay to even address the contradictory nature of the European self-understanding, how that self-perception is utterly disconnected from its practice, and how many people in the world see the 500-years European hegemony as an interminable nightmare.

However, for those folks who believe the simple assertion that black lives matter and that “racial progress” will be realized through progressive legislative reform derived from a better understanding of the harmful impact of racially discriminatory practices, the unfiltered expressions of white solidarity and the privileging of white life should be a wake-up call.

The humanity and cultures of Arabs and Muslims have been denigrated in France for decades. Full recognition of the humanity of Arabs and Muslims has always come at a cost – Arabs and Muslims are required to “assimilate,” to mimic French lifestyles, embrace the language, adopt the values and worldview of their cosmopolitan patrons. Older generations of fully colonized individuals subjected themselves to that degrading ritual, but later generations see this requirement as the colonial assault on their being that it is and have resisted.

It is the arrogant lack of respect for the ideas and culture of non-European peoples that drove the French ban on the wearing of the niqab and other traditional veiling clothing for Muslim women, just one example of the generalized discriminatory treatment of Arabs and Muslims in France. In this lager context, Charlie Hebdo’s blatant disregard and disrespect for another religion, shielded by an absolute commitment to freedom of speech that gives them blanket immunity, is now compounded by the “Je Suis Charlie campaign,” orchestrated in the name of upholding the values of liberal, Western civilization.

What it means for many of us in the Black community is that Je Suis Charlie has become a sound bite to justify the erasure of non-Europeans, and for ignoring the sentiments, values and views of the racialized “other.” In short, Je Suis Charlie has become an arrogant rallying cry for white supremacy that was echoed at the white power march on Sunday in Paris and in the popularity of the new issue of Charlie Hebdo.

A shared ethical framework under the system of capitalist/colonial white supremacy is impossible. Deeply grounded in the European psyche and in the contradictions of its “humanist” traditions, who was considered fully human always had qualifications, and equality was always a nuanced concept.

The contradictory ethical framework that informs the world view of Parisians is grounded in the colonial division of humanity that emerged out of the liberal humanist movement of the 18th Century. This tradition allowed for humanity to be divided into those people who were considered fully human with rights that should be respected and those peoples consigned to non-being. Those non-beings became eligible to have their lands taken, to be enslaved and murdered at will.

The valuation of white life over everyone else is a fundamental component of white supremacy and not limited to those people that might be defined as white. That is why no one cares about the families that weep for their love ones in Nigeria and no one marches for them. That is why anti-Muslim and anti-Arab violence has exploded across France but the only mention in the Western press is the supposed fear in the Jewish community. And that is why that after the attack in Baga, Nigerian authorities were largely silent until Nigerian President Goodluck finally issued a statement on terrorism where he forcefully condemned the attack in Paris!

Related Link: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/15/european-lives-have-always-mattered-more-than-others/
author by AJAMU BARAKA - Counterpunch.orgpublication date Tue Jan 20, 2015 17:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

“The “civilized” have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death; these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the conscience of civilized world.

– James Baldwin

I have witnessed the spectacle of Eurocentric arrogance many times over my long years of struggle and resistance to colonial/capitalist domination and dehumanization. The grotesque, 21st Century version of the “white man’s burden,” which asserts that the international community (meaning the West) has a moral and legal “responsibility to protect,” is one current example; the generalized acceptance by many in the West that their governments have a right to wage permanent war against the global “others” to maintain international order is another.

Yet, when I think I have seen it all, along comes the response to the attack at the racist, Islamophobic publication Charlie Hebdo. Even though I shouldn’t be surprised, I am still left in complete wonderment at the West’s unmitigated self-centeredness and self-righteous arrogance.

The millions who turned out on Sunday claimed to be marching in solidarity with the victims at Charlie Hebdo and against terrorism. They were joined by political leaders from across Europe, Israel and other parts of the world – on the same weekend reports were emerging that 2,000 Nigerians may have lost their lives at the hands of Boko Haram, another Muslim extremist group.

Surely there would be expressions of solidarity with the survivors in Nigeria at a gathering ostensibly to oppose terrorism and uphold the sanctity of life. But the expressions of solidarity never came. In fact, based on the attention the massacre received from the Western press, it was if the massacre had never happened.

It is clear that there was a different agenda for the march and a different set of concerns for Europe. The people of France mobilized themselves to defend what they saw as an attack against Western civilization. However, the events in Paris did not have to be framed as an existential attack on the imagined values of the liberal white West. Providing some context and making some political links may have been beneficial for attempting to understand what happened in the country and a political way forward beyond the appeal to racial jingoism.

The attack could have sparked an honest conversation about how many Muslims experience life in contemporary France and viewed French policies in various Muslim and Arab nations. It could have examined the relationship between the rise of radical Islam and the connection of that rise to the activities of various branches of the French intelligence services. An open discussion might have framed it as a classic blowback operation resulting from the weaponization of radical Whabbanism as a tool of Western power from the late 1970s to its current assignment in Syria. But those ideas were not allowed a forum on that massive stage.

Je Suis Charlie: European lives have always mattered more than others

The Je Suis Charlie slogan like one of those mindless advertising themes meant to appeal to the unconscious and the irrational, nevertheless, has to have cultural reference points, culturally embedded meanings that evoke the desire to want to buy a product, or in this case to identify with an imagined civilization. It does not matter that the supposed superiority of Western civilization and its values is based on constructed lies and myths, it is still the basis of a cross-class, transnational white identity.

The white identity is so powerfully inculcated while simultaneously invisibalized that identification is not seen as the essentialized identity politics that people of color supposedly engage in, instead it is just being “human.” And as we witnessed this weekend and throughout the colonial world, identification with whiteness is not limited by one’s racial or national assignment.

It is not necessary in this short essay to even address the contradictory nature of the European self-understanding, how that self-perception is utterly disconnected from its practice, and how many people in the world see the 500-years European hegemony as an interminable nightmare.

However, for those folks who believe the simple assertion that black lives matter and that “racial progress” will be realized through progressive legislative reform derived from a better understanding of the harmful impact of racially discriminatory practices, the unfiltered expressions of white solidarity and the privileging of white life should be a wake-up call.

The humanity and cultures of Arabs and Muslims have been denigrated in France for decades. Full recognition of the humanity of Arabs and Muslims has always come at a cost – Arabs and Muslims are required to “assimilate,” to mimic French lifestyles, embrace the language, adopt the values and worldview of their cosmopolitan patrons. Older generations of fully colonized individuals subjected themselves to that degrading ritual, but later generations see this requirement as the colonial assault on their being that it is and have resisted.

It is the arrogant lack of respect for the ideas and culture of non-European peoples that drove the French ban on the wearing of the niqab and other traditional veiling clothing for Muslim women, just one example of the generalized discriminatory treatment of Arabs and Muslims in France. In this lager context, Charlie Hebdo’s blatant disregard and disrespect for another religion, shielded by an absolute commitment to freedom of speech that gives them blanket immunity, is now compounded by the “Je Suis Charlie campaign,” orchestrated in the name of upholding the values of liberal, Western civilization.

What it means for many of us in the Black community is that Je Suis Charlie has become a sound bite to justify the erasure of non-Europeans, and for ignoring the sentiments, values and views of the racialized “other.” In short, Je Suis Charlie has become an arrogant rallying cry for white supremacy that was echoed at the white power march on Sunday in Paris and in the popularity of the new issue of Charlie Hebdo.

A shared ethical framework under the system of capitalist/colonial white supremacy is impossible. Deeply grounded in the European psyche and in the contradictions of its “humanist” traditions, who was considered fully human always had qualifications, and equality was always a nuanced concept.

The contradictory ethical framework that informs the world view of Parisians is grounded in the colonial division of humanity that emerged out of the liberal humanist movement of the 18th Century. This tradition allowed for humanity to be divided into those people who were considered fully human with rights that should be respected and those peoples consigned to non-being. Those non-beings became eligible to have their lands taken, to be enslaved and murdered at will.

The valuation of white life over everyone else is a fundamental component of white supremacy and not limited to those people that might be defined as white. That is why no one cares about the families that weep for their love ones in Nigeria and no one marches for them. That is why anti-Muslim and anti-Arab violence has exploded across France but the only mention in the Western press is the supposed fear in the Jewish community. And that is why that after the attack in Baga, Nigerian authorities were largely silent until Nigerian President Goodluck finally issued a statement on terrorism where he forcefully condemned the attack in Paris!

Related Link: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/15/european-lives-have-always-mattered-more-than-others/
author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Wed Jan 21, 2015 22:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

To be clear, I am, fundamentally, for free speech, but I also believe that is not the same as supporting every view that arises. I think speech must always be tempered by a certain humanism and empathy. In this way, I do not like any materials that denigrate any group, or that promote an amoral and nihilistic and / or mindless consumeristic and cynical view, or that promote hatred and conflict between religions, races and groups. This damages society, and achieves nothing.

But by the same token, however, I do not see how we can have a serious discussion of what happened in Paris, without also looking at events like

- the December 2014 massacre of Christians at Mandera in Kenya by Al-Shabaab
- the January 2015 massacre in Baga in Nigeria by Boko Haram
- the ongoing ISIS war against Rojava
- severe persecution of religious minorities in many majority-Muslim countries

None of this, of course, justifies hatred of Muslims in general, or simple generalisations about "the Muslims." And certainly, intolerant currents are widespread amongst a range of religions (for example, the Orissa attacks on Christians in India in 2008 were not by Muslims ...). It is also neccesary to avoid clash-of-civilizations or -races analyses, whether of the left or of the right, in which every small event proves how "they" act or think ... because "they" are like this (whether Westerner, or Muslim, or etc) ...

But equally, it is neccesary to challenge the notion that Islam, as such, is a persecuted religion or group, viewed worldwide ... or to hint (as some on the left do) that "Charlie" somehow deserved it...

If we confine our discussions of the "Charlie" killings to French issues, and history, we run the risk of simply reproducing a profoundly Europe-centred view point, where we can can talk about Paris without talking about Mandera, Baga, Rojava, Bagdad ...

author by What?publication date Wed Jan 21, 2015 22:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For some reason the page has approved a post by someone in counterpunch, wherein we read a vignette that shows the usual complete lack of perspective, and the usual obsessions of a select group of third worldists

"That is why anti-Muslim and anti-Arab violence has exploded across France but the only mention in the Western press is the supposed fear in the Jewish community...."

And where is this "exploding" violence?

Actually, "54 anti-Muslim incidents" took place in the week that followed, of which 33 were "threats and insults" (according to an outfit that specialises in stressing the severity of the incidents, the "National Observatory of Islamophobia"), with not a single assault or death. The worst reported incident was a mosque burning. This is not exactly a mass progrom.

Compare it to the 45 churches burned down and dozens killed in Niger by anti-Charlie cartoon protestors to get a sense of reality.

This is the same lack of perspective in which the FN getting 2 senatorial seats out of 568 is presented as a new Nazi takeover.

author by Wayne Pricepublication date Thu Jan 22, 2015 13:52author email drwdprice at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have a problem with Lucien's comment, " it is neccesary to challenge the notion that Islam, as such, is a persecuted religion or group, viewed worldwide." Literally it is true. As a religion, Islam is no more persecuted (and no less a persecutor) than Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or, for that matter the version of atheism held by the Marxist-Leninists (whether or not we regard it as a religion).

BUT...Islam is widespread among the poorer, oppressed, and exploited nations, the neocolonial nations, the so-called "Third World." THESE people ARE oppressed and persecuted, for their nationalities as well as (in their majority) exploited for being workers, peasants, the very poor, etc. As well as Muslims being generally among the working class and very poor in Europe and the US. So whether "Islam is a persecuted religion," Muslims are generally a"persecuted group," even if not fundamentally as Muslims.

Of course, the interaction of this class and national oppression with its religious cover or refraction is very complex, appearing both as hostility to poor people supposedly because they are Muslims as well as hostility by oppressed people to oppression expressed in religious terms. This could--and should--be discussed in much greater detail. But revolutionary anarchists, especially, must not overlook this interaction.

author by Alasdair Sandford - Reuterspublication date Thu Jan 22, 2015 17:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The French prime minister has said the country’s recent terrorist attacks have exposed a “geographic, social, ethnic apartheid” present in society.

It has been described as one of the starkest indictments of French society by a government figure.

In a belated New Year’s speech to journalists which began with a minute’s silence, Manuel Valls listed at length the problems the country faced, which he said had reared their heads during riots in city suburbs in 2005.

He said there was an urgent need to fight hatred and discrimination, especially in deprived areas home to many communities of immigrant origin.

“Relegation of some to the suburbs, ghettos, things I was already talking about in 2005, a geographic, social, ethnic apartheid which has developed in our country.
Social misery, added to daily discrimination… because someone doesn’t have a good family name, the right skin colour, or because she’s a woman. It is by no means, and you know me, about looking for excuses, but we also have to look at the reality of our country,” Valls said.

The French prime minister is due to announce new anti-terror measures on Wednesday.

Speaking during a best wishes ceremony to government bodies, President Hollande said that the aim of the measures was to improve current provisions to protect French citizens.

“The main thing is first to protect our fellow citizens whilst respecting the law. The bills of December 21, 2012 and November 13, 2014 have already extended our legal means to monitor and punish those who plot or consider participating in terrorist acts. But additional measures must be taken,” Hollande said.

“The prime minister is working on it and will present them (the new measures) tomorrow: to control the movements of the jihadists, to reinforce our intelligence system, to prevent the propagation of radical Islamism in prisons, and to better monitor and prevent the activities of this influence on the internet,” he added.

Hollande said that France would continue to act in the respect of freedoms and would not infringe its principles by setting up these new rules.

Four men in their twenties were due to appear before a judge in Paris on Tuesday, suspected of helping one of the Islamist gunmen behind the recent terrorist attacks.

The group is accused of aiding the man Amedy Coulibaly, believed to have murdered a policewoman as well as four people at a Jewish supermarket the next day.

A funeral has taken place for Clarissa Jean-Philippe, the policewoman who was shot dead. Some 500 people turned out for the ceremony which took place on the French overseas territory of Martinique.

Meanwhile, the mayor of New York has been in the French capital to pay tribute to the victims of the attacks. Bill de Blasio visited the kosher supermarket and the offices of Charlie Hebdo where 12 people were killed.

Related Link: http://www.euronews.com/2015/01/20/ethnic-apartheid-exists-in-france-says-pm-manuel-valls/
author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Thu Jan 22, 2015 19:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I find the whole discussion about if there is Islamophobia quite farcical. Of course awful stuff is done in the name of Islam, same as awful stuff is done in the name of Christianity, Judaism, Democracy, Capitalism and even Socialism. To anyone living in Europe it is obvious there is quite a nasty feeling out there, whatever you want to call it. If you check social networks, if you check comments on internet news, you’ll get 1,000 hateful comments (send them back to where they come from, should kill them all, forget human rights and hang them by their last ball and so on) for every one calling to caution against racism. Have you read the hundreds of thousands of racist comments stimulated by another recent cultural representation “American Sniper”. The lighter ones you’ll get is, “oh, this makes you wanna go out and kill Arabs” (another variant is about killing Muslims). Where I live, in your work, anywhere you hear comments such as “these fecking Muslim bastards are taking over our country, coming for our women (anxiety described by Fanon which is stirred up by these sensationalist stories of Western women joining ISIS and so on)”. Steven Emerson comment on Fox News on Birmingham having become a no-go area for infidels is sheer stupidity, but one which is actually widespread: books like Londonistan are not coming out of the blue. Well educated people told me that “these fecking Muslims working in our hospitals banned Christmas tress because they think they own the fecking place”… yet, when asked what hospital that was, there was utter silence. I visited a friend to hospital over the Season holidays and the Christmas trees were only in place.

There is this nasty, filthy feeling of hatred out there, however you want to call it, fed by Hollywood movies, sensationalist news, offensive cartoons and a myriad of comments, many of them de-contextualising selected quotes of the Quran in order to prove how intrinsically evil THAT religion is (ignoring the fact that most religious books, and certainly the Torah and the Bible have equally grotesque and violent episodes, alongside other more enlightened and compassionate ones). There is this irrational fear, well-seated in Western culture since the Middle ages, that they are coming for us, that they are taking over, that before we noticed somehow it is Allahu Akbar all over the place and Europeans are a minority in their own continent. And this is translating into hostile actions: graffiti over Mosques, insults, attacks, spitting and a couple of killings already in France and Germany which no one seems to notice (and if anyone does is in order to justify them by the large part with excuse such as they looked for it). This not to mention the supposedly-frustrated-terrorist-attack in Belgium which left two people dead on spot. No one in the current environment will dare to ask too many questions about what seems to be the same trigger-happy policy that killed De Menezes in the aftermath of the London attacks in 2006 –with the difference that De Menezes killing caused a minor uproar because he was Brazilian, what led to questioning that trigger-happy paranoia. Had he been an Arab, I doubt there would have been any uproar at all: after all, all Arabs and people on head-scarves are guilty until not proven innocent. One really needs to live in a parallel universe not to notice.

You may say it is not religion, it is other stuff. That in my opinion misses totally the point, as it would have missed it if in the ‘30s we would have spent too much time musing around if anti-semitism was racism or if it had anything to do with religion, etc. Anti-semitism did not start with the concentration camps, which was the end result of it: t started with an insidious hatred propaganda campaign, so by the time extermination took place, there were so few to take a stand against it, whether in Germany or France or Poland. The same is happening now with this insidious and systematic hatred campaign around, so when the mass deportations or concentration camps come, no one will stand up against it. Racial profiling is already in place, and it is so hard to get over-the-top-secular leftist (even anarchist) to agree there’s something sinister happening, so we better discuss if Islamophobia exists or not. Claiming that not all Arabs are Muslims it is missing the point as well. Racism does not make this refined distinctions (as proven by hateful comments all over the place) and even if it did, it would be equally wrong to stimulate hatred against the practitioners of one particular religion. I made the exercise a couple of years ago of walking down the street with a Muslim prayer cap and in some 10 blocks I was abused three times. Which is an awful lot. Even the minister Valls of oh-so-secular France had to come out to admit that there was an ethnic apartheid in his country (I know, we could also endlessly discuss if the term apartheid is rightly applied or not, but again, this debate is farcical and misses the point completely). There is something deeply wrong in Europe and the US and at least in the old continent, fascists, neo-fascists and proto-fascists are benefitting from it: there is also little point in arguing the number of seats of Le Pen’s party as if this was the ultimate measure of one party’s strength: he’s got a fairly decent share of the vote, bigger than the socialist left in any case, he mobilises part of the public opinion around his proposals and most worringly, in almost all of Europe fascists have really increased their ranks, struck a sensitive chord with the “ordinary folk” fear of immigrants and have become “respectable” again”. That’s the whole point of the article.

author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Thu Jan 29, 2015 19:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well, my post is to say we need a better analysis -- including of radical Islamism. And I do not live in a parallel universe, I happen to not live in Europe -- and this does shape what I say.

I stand by my position that Muslims, as such, on a *world scale*, are not oppressed as Muslims.

Yes, maybe in Europe, although even here it is complicated by official policies of multi-culturalism and its subsidies and group management, official zero-tolerance, police protection for mosques post-"Charlie" etc. This is hardly the 1930s situation of the European Jewry. And sure, European racists might not always draw a neat distinction between Arab and Muslim -- although this is hardly different to much of the left.

But all of this quite different to the claim that Muslims, as such, are specifically and generally oppressed. To say that "Muslims are generally a "persecuted group," even if not fundamentally as Muslims" just because many are in the "poorer, oppressed, and exploited nations, the neocolonial nations", is not helpful.

Do bombs in Gaza stop and let Palestinian Christians pass by quietly, before they explode? When Nigeria is hammered by structural adjustment, does the SAP avoid the Christian South and do a crusade that looks for Muslims first? To invoke the 1930s: the situation of Muslims is far more complex, with for example, dozens of officially-Muslim nation-states.

Vast numbers of Christians exist in the "poorer, oppressed, and exploited nations, the neocolonial nations", with sub-Saharan Africa alone almost overtaking Europe (and certainly, in terms of fervor, outstripping Western Europe by far). Probably there at least as Christians many as Muslims in these regions; and in many of these countries Christians (much of Africa, Latin America, Caribbean, East Europe, Ireland historically) are a great majority. They are thus also subject to "imperialism." And (where they are minorities) they are often subject to severe religious discrimination and persecution as Christians. (Since this last issue is usually raised by the Christian right, it is generally ignored on the left). And, then, in terms of ideas and propaganda: you would certainly struggle to find a Hollywood movie (exported of course worldwide) that deals as offensively with Islam as with Christianity, as a movie like “Dogma."

Do we then say "Christians are generally a "persecuted group," even if not fundamentally as Christians"? Or start to say there is "Christianophobia" because (say) largely-Christian Mexico or (say) Greece under the Troika suffers under imperialism? Or because Christ is mocked in many Hollywood movies, and many Christians live in poor countries, an armed attack by Christian fundamentalists on a Hollywood studio woudl be explicable due to "imperialism" or "Christianophobia"?

Clearly we do not, so the issue here -- the theory of the "Islamaphobia" -- is simply not secured by such claims, and it manifestly fails to describe a much more complicated reality.

That is my first point.

Now, the second, The world is not Western Europe. Yet we see a range of leftists explaining how awful this newspaper "Charlie" is (I do not know if it is) and how the depredations of a vague "imperialism" (really, one in which many Muslim-country elites are junior partners, as are many radical Islamists) somehow cause people to shoot comedians. And there is some truth in this -- but it is a very limited one.

Because for this line to work, somehow, some other major events that just do not fit this line must be left out.

One, Boko Haram in Nigeria (no more comment needed). Two, Al-Shabaab and its massacres of Christians in Kenya (what, no talk here of "Christianophobia"?). Three, ISIS in Kobane. Right now we have comrades fighting ISIS.

So, we are not talking about some tiny movements of cranks, and the tactic of many Western leftists (and Islamists) of closing down discussion on these movements with the label of "Islamaphobia” is not addressing this either.

Naturally these cannot easily be fitted into the story of "Islamaphobia" unless we want to go the route of the Australian paper "Green Left Weekly" which in 2004 chided Iraqi left-communists for "Islamaphobia" for not wanting to work with the same jihadis "against imperialism" -- the same jihadis that were then terrorising minorities and women and leftists and journalists.

Because, if such groups are brought in, then the whole story of the dangers of "fascists, neo-fascists and proto-fascists" gets complicated by the fact that huge movements that would certainly come close to such characterisations exist right now in the form of radical Islamism ... and on a scale that makes FN completely tiny. Again, the obsession with FN, BNP and so on ... to an outsider its seems so strange. And it also seems strange to see a discussion of killing journalists in one country by a particular political completely delinked from that current’s long-history of killing journalists in other countries.

So, this is my second point: how can we even talk about an attack on some journalists (and on a Jewish supermarket) by people from Islamist movements, in France, without actually addressing the character of such movements more generally?

So, and this is my second point: while in fact I do agree on the issues of Frebnch elite hypocrisy, the need to have a humanistic approach to speech and so on and etc., I find it amazing to even talk about the "Charlie" situation by refernece only to West Europe and with no reference, really, to radical Islamism..

Of course we must navigate seriously, since ruling elites (and not just in the West) are beating the drums of civilizational war ... and keep our independence. But the first step in such independence is have an analysis that deals more adequately with the issues of radical Islamism and “Islamaphobia.”

author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Thu Jan 29, 2015 21:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dear Lucien, I see little point of debating when you are debating a straw man with arguments which do not contradict a iota what is said in the opinion piece written. We need better analysis? Sure, academics are doing that, but this was an opinion piece of 922 words on a very specific topic: Islamophobia in Europe, written in the heat of the moment when I was receiving hundreds of text messages and emails against Muslims. This is not an attempt to discuss the global implications of Islamism, or to engage in a long and (in my opinion) irrelevant discussion if Christians are also persecuted, etc.

Persectued groups vary from one place to another, and when in Egypt Islamist biggots were persecuting Copts, the anarchists were right to riot with the Christians as a vulnerable group, not because they defended their theology. Likewise Of course, the '30s were the '30s, but isn't it amazing to see the leader of the PEGIDA fascist gangs sporting Hitler's moustache while calling for demonstrations against Muslims? It is Islamophobia which has become respectable in Europe (anti-semitism although it exists, it remains taboo and politically incorrect). It is on Islampohobia that fascism is growing. Islamophobia describes a very specific phenomena we are witnessing in popular culture in the West at a time when major imperialistic operations are conducted in the Middle East and other Muslim countries. Yes, imperialism don't care too much about the religion of the people they subject, but they also look for a reason to justify to public opinion their civilising enterprise -by failing to see this, the left, in spite of all its best convictions, can end up justiying the civilising mission of the imperialist, as important sections of the French left have been doing since times immemorial. You may be in South Africa but you are fairly familiar with Europe and have internet access. You may lose the subtleties of daily interaction and this nasty feeling around, but I'm sure you read commentary and so on, on the web.

author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Thu Jan 29, 2015 21:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just to avoid any red herrings in the debate -- to focus on what is in dispute -- in my posts I stated that free "speech must always be tempered by a certain humanism and empathy," and that I oppose "any materials that denigrate any group, ... or that promote hatred and conflict between religions, races and groups." Also that nothing "justifies hatred of Muslims in general, or simple generalisations about "the Muslims,"" and that Europe may certainly be marked by severe prejudice against Muslims.

The issues are (explicit and implicit) are:
- the need for analysis of and attitude to radical Islamism, and the line that follows (and the problems of closing this discussion by invoking spectres like "Islamaphobia")
- the question of attitude to a left politics that excuses political reactionaries from the South by reference to the sins of imperialism, capitalism and so on(but that applies different rules to political reactionaries from the North)
- the limits of Europe-centred analyses, which (in the "Charlie" case) either explain events by refernece to France internally, or France externally (and that have not much space for agency and responsibility for the others, who are always presented as reacting, responding, victims, etc. and not as initiators with ther own projects)
- tied to all this, the issue of developing the left in areas where religion plays a major role (this is not the same as offensive aetheism or silent complicity)

Red and black
Lucien

author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Sat Apr 04, 2015 22:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree that no article can raise every issue, and admit I am raising issues that are not covered in this article -- an article that I found useful.

I also do not dispute that there is racism and related horrors in how people have engaged this issue (not least: the silence on even more horrific actions by radical Islamist around the same time, but in Kenya and Nigeria ...

That said, what I raise is not a "strawman" argument, and it is not a matter of word length: simply, would we talk about a terror attack by Nazis by referring just to the humiliations of the Versailles Treaty? Or by the BJP today, by simply saying, India has a neo-liberal programme and Hindus are sometimes mocked?

That some Muslims in some countries may face repression does not mean we can talk about the actions of radical Islamists only by reference to Muslims somewhere facing repression ... Not talking about the politics of radical Islamism, in the context of the Hebdo attacks, is striking, and must be a deliberate choice.

Surely, it is precisely because radical Islamism is a popular (and mass) force, precisely because sectors of the left seek to "engage" it, precisely because much of the left is trapped in a north/ south narrative, where class vanishes, that we need analysis of radical Islamism -- not least where we are speaking of radical Islamists' actions.

With respect and comradeship,
Lucien

author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Tue Apr 07, 2015 09:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lucien, the article does not deal with the issue of radical Islam at all. I don't know how it is so difficult for an educated university professor to understand the point of such a short piece and start again and again an irrelevant straw man argument. The article is quite clearly about media representations of Islam (or the savage "other" taking over our country, our women and our jobs) and cartoons channeling Islamophobic tendencies. The article was specifically directed against the (hypocritical) freedom of expression mantra and takes a critical look at the magazine -particularly when it mocked the savage massacre of a thousand Egyptians in one particularly gruesome issue- which had become, supposedly, the ultimate banner behind which all humanity should have rallied, at the acritical cry "je suis this, je suis that". The article gave my reasons why I am not Charlie. Full stop.

But wait, some people decided that no one should be critical, that the only thing that should be criticised is political Islam (an extraordinarily complex phenomenon over simplified in media accounts, whether official or alternative). It does not matter that on the first paragraph I took distance with all forms of religious extremism: you have to single out political Islam because they are the worst, according to the telly, and it is they, only they you have to condemn ad nauseam. So here I go. Just to make you happy and to avoid any future misunderstanding, I will say it: salafism is reactionary and awful. I already said that in a previous article specific on this issue http://anarkismo.net/article/19578. Will I have to state this over and over again, any time I talk about Egypt or Israel, whether relevant or not to the topic I am writing about, in order not to look suspicious? No one is now allowed to speak of racism against Arabs if they first don't condemn the Islamists?

This is exactly the sort of rubbish I criticise: now it is impossible to "condemn" racism or imperialism against Arabs without first condemning "Islamist extremism" -if you condemn Anti-Semitism, of course, no one will demand that you state first that you disagree with the Jewish non sensical belief that they are a chosen people, that they are special in the eyes of God, or that you distance yourself from Zionism.... what only shows you how two rules are at operation here. Everyone who does not cheer our sacred institutions and their self-proclaimed civilising mission, becomes an enemy of civilisation and becomes suspicious of sympathising with "terrorism-lurking-behind-every-corner". We all have to become Charlie, together with Sarkozy, Merkel and the poxy King of Jordania. That may be ok with you, it is not ok with me.

Don't worry. Next time I write about racism at home, I will not forget my disclaimer first to prove I am a respectable member of the human race: Islamists are evil people. After that -but only after that- I will be allowed to say whatever...

ps- The comparison of the Versailles Treaty with the real, systematic and every day humilliations and horrors experienced by people in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Lybia, Syria, countries totally devastated with the complicity of Western powers, is something that flies in the face of reason.

ps2- The ideology of a "pure working class" (abstract, devoid of its historical and concrete manifestations, theoretical and cold) it is also a way to prevent an understanding of the real forms of oppression which do exist in the world and blind the very real oppression some people face because of their colour, region of provenance, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc. All of which is reinforced by the actual capitalist machinery in operation at a global scale.

author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Tue Apr 07, 2015 09:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lucien, the article does not deal with the issue of radical Islam at all. I don't know how it is so difficult for an educated university professor to understand the point of such a short piece and start again and again an irrelevant straw man argument. The article is quite clearly about media representations of Islam (or the savage "other" taking over our country, our women and our jobs) and cartoons channeling Islamophobic tendencies. The article was specifically directed against the (hypocritical) freedom of expression mantra and takes a critical look at the magazine -particularly when it mocked the savage massacre of a thousand Egyptians in one particularly gruesome issue- which had become, supposedly, the ultimate banner behind which all humanity should have rallied, at the acritical cry "je suis this, je suis that". The article gave my reasons why I am not Charlie. Full stop.

But wait, some people decided that no one should be critical, that the only thing that should be criticised is political Islam (an extraordinarily complex phenomenon over simplified in media accounts, whether official or alternative). It does not matter that on the first paragraph I took distance with all forms of religious extremism: you have to single out political Islam because they are the worst, according to the telly, and it is they, only they you have to condemn ad nauseam. So here I go. Just to make you happy and to avoid any future misunderstanding, I will say it: salafism is reactionary and awful. I already said that in a previous article specific on this issue http://anarkismo.net/article/19578. Will I have to state this over and over again, any time I talk about Egypt or Israel, whether relevant or not to the topic I am writing about, in order not to look suspicious? No one is now allowed to speak of racism against Arabs if they first don't condemn the Islamists?

This is exactly the sort of rubbish I criticise: now it is impossible to "condemn" racism or imperialism against Arabs without first condemning "Islamist extremism" -if you condemn Anti-Semitism, of course, no one will demand that you state first that you disagree with the Jewish non sensical belief that they are a chosen people, that they are special in the eyes of God, or that you distance yourself from Zionism.... what only shows you how two rules are at operation here. Everyone who does not cheer our sacred institutions and their self-proclaimed civilising mission, becomes an enemy of civilisation and becomes suspicious of sympathising with "terrorism-lurking-behind-every-corner". We all have to become Charlie, together with Sarkozy, Merkel and the poxy King of Jordania. That may be ok with you, it is not ok with me.

Don't worry. Next time I write about racism at home, I will not forget my disclaimer first to prove I am a respectable member of the human race: Islamists are evil people. After that -but only after that- I will be allowed to say whatever...

ps- The comparison of the Versailles Treaty with the real, systematic and every day humilliations and horrors experienced by people in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Lybia, Syria, countries totally devastated with the complicity of Western powers, is something that flies in the face of reason.

ps2- The ideology of a "pure working class" (abstract, devoid of its historical and concrete manifestations, theoretical and cold) it is also a way to prevent an understanding of the real forms of oppression which do exist in the world and blind the very real oppression some people face because of their colour, region of provenance, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc. All of which is reinforced by the actual capitalist machinery in operation at a global scale.

author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Wed Apr 15, 2015 18:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Pepe, I agree it is frustrating when an article gets critiqued for what it does not say -- and if I have been unfair, I apologise.

Anyway, my bigger point is that we need to have a position on radical Islamism. And I was using this article as a way to raise that issue.

Maybe that was not a good way -- again, apologies if so.

On that issue, we need something better than the conspiracy theories of left and right, the ultra-left positions ("its all capitalist!") and the liquidationist ones ("let us engage"), and the rightist ones ....

In solidarity and comradeship
Lucien

author by Lucien van der Waltpublication date Wed Apr 15, 2015 18:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Pepe said: "The ideology of a "pure working class" (abstract, devoid of its historical and concrete manifestations, theoretical and cold) it is also a way to prevent an understanding of the real forms of oppression which do exist in the world and blind the very real oppression some people face because of their colour, region of provenance, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc. All of which is reinforced by the actual capitalist machinery in operation at a global scale."

I completely agree, and always have.

author by Lee Moran - Yahoopublication date Tue Sep 08, 2015 03:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is the shocking moment a hijab-wearing woman was knocked to the ground during a horrific hate crime attack in London.

She was then beaten unconscious in the unprovoked assault in Plaistow.

The harrowing footage will be broadcast by the BBC1 London “Inside Out” documentary series at 7.30 p.m. tonight.

Entitled “Behind the Veil,” the show will feature young Muslim women describing how they’ve been spat on, punched and verbally abused in the street.

The investigation details how Islamophobic attacks in the capital have almost doubled in the 12 months to June, from 406 to 800, according to Scotland Yard statistics.

And racist and religious hate crimes in general soared by almost 28 per cent last year - from 9,965 reported incidents to 12,749.

But victims say that the true figures could be much greater, as many are too afraid to report attacks to the police.

Student Meanha Begum was attacked along with a friend by a knife-carrying woman who pulled down her face veil and slammed her to the ground, reports the Evening Standard.

“I know young Muslim women that have been attacked but they are too scared to go to the police about it,” the 18-year-old tells the documentary.

“I was walking to work and this man came towards me. I thought he was going to punch me. It’s like he saw me and he just went mad,” said Sahina Khan.

“He said something about ‘killing Christians in the Middle East’ or 'your people killing Christians in the Middle East’ and he was just ranting at me,” added the 31-year-old.

“Behind the Veil” will be broadcast by BBC London tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Related Link: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/hijab-wearing-woman-filmed-being-112207475.html#iqMVM0G
author by Anti-fascistpublication date Thu Jan 14, 2016 20:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Charlie Hebdo again laughs at the poor killed and shows its racism. Je ne suis Charile

Related Link: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/too-far-charlie-hebdo-asks-drowned-toddler-aylan-101947491.html
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