Week 2: Hero – Charlie Hebdo

by George_East on January 11, 2015

CharlieHebdo_heroThis Week our Hero of the Week Award goes to French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo and the journalists and cartoonists who were killed in the terrorist attack on its offices.

Today has seen more than a million people on the streets of Paris and an estimated 3.7 million across France turnout in unity against the terrorist attacks which took place on Wednesday and Thursday last week and in solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists who were killed in the first of those attacks.     Other gatherings have taken place across the world in support of Charlie Hebdo, wielding symbolic pencils.

The form a country’s satire takes reflects it culture. In the US it takes the brash in your face form of John Stewart and South Park, as well as the arch Ivy College smartassery of The Onion. In the UK it is the public school boy humour of Private Eye that prevails. And so on.

Whereas in France it is deeply rooted in that country’s fiercely anti-clerical tradition.   Revolutionary France saw the monarchy and the catholic church as their primary enemies and the antipathy on the left towards the latter in France has never dimmed.

As it happens Charlie Hebdo’s primary targets when the weekly satirical magazine launched in 1981 were the Front National then under the leadership of that old collaborationist fascist, Jean Marie Le Pen. It soon though moved on to attacking the Church and all organised religion, which were parodied for their absurd traditions and irrational beliefs.

Following the violent reaction to the publication of the 12 so-called Mohammed cartoons in the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper in late 2005, Charlie Hebdo was one of the few other European news publications prepared to re-publish those cartoons.

It led to death threats against editor Stephane Charbonnier and others who worked at the publication. Two police were assigned to protect Charb as he was universally known. This did not deter Charlie Hebdo who regularly published their own cartoons of Mohammed and satirising Islam.   In November 2011 they published a special issue entitled Sharia Hebdo ‘guest edited by Muhammed’. This resulted in the magazine’s offices being fire-bombed. They were still not deterred, continuing to publish their scabrous cartoons.

The terrorist attacks on the offices on Wednesday this week resulted in the death of 10 cartoonists and journalists at the magazine, and two police officers (including one who had been assigned to protect the magazine). Charb was one of the dead.

For standing up to the bullies and religious fascists in the name of satire and for not being craven in the face of threats, Charlie Hebdo are this weeks Heroes. It is sad that some on the left have lost so many of their political bearings now that they, in effect, denounce Charlie Hebdo as racists and in effect in the name of ‘context’ act as apologists for those who committed the crime.  For those who want a bit of history Charlie Hebdo has been a consistent critic of Israel’s attacks on Gaza, has opposed restrictive immigration laws introduced by Nicholas Sarkozy and has supported illegal immigrants right to stay in France. On the other hand as Jackie said in his Villain Post if you want to know the kind of people the terrorists were, look at the second target: a kosher grocers.

The ideas and beliefs that lead to such atrocities need to be confronted. One of those ideas is that belief systems ought to be beyond criticism or mockery. Too many others seem also to subscribe to this view – afraid to offend. Yet religion like any other idea ought to be open to ridicule as well as reason. Those at Charlie Hebdo were prepared to do that to the point of losing their lives. They are to be saluted for that.

Nous Sommes Charlie.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ray_North January 12, 2015 at 9:44 am

Je suis Charlie


Fionauk512 January 12, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Je suis Ahmed aussi.


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