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Charlie Hedbo: Free Speech or Mindless Opportunism

 

Charlie Hebdo editor getting press coverage

by Ilisha

The otherwise obscure French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hedbo, is making headlines again, and the most recent controversy seems to have the press divided on the politics of free speech and provocation.

Last fall, the paper’s offices were firebombed in what was widely assumed to be retaliation for an upcoming issue “guest edited” by Muhammed, with a provocative cartoon on the cover and the caption, “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter!” There was no proof Muslims were actually the perpetrators, and to date, no one has claimed responsibility, and there have been no arrests.

The perpetrators could have been Muslims, or people who wanted Muslims to appear guilty of the crime, or as Luz, the cartoonist who drew the cover cartoon, said:

 Let’s be cautious. There’s every reason to believe it’s the work of fundamentalists but it could just as well be the work of two drunks.

Casting caution aside, the media continued to report the story as if Muslims were known to be the culprits, and this irresponsible reporting was by no means confined to the looniverse. Sadly, most of of the global media joined in recklessly indicting Muslims. Even Gawker, a paper with articles that are often sympathetic to Muslims, carried the misleading  and presumptuous headline, “The Islamists Are Going After Fake Newspapers Now.

The firebombing seemed to embolden Charlie Hedbo’s editors. A few days later, the paper  published an even more provocative cover, portraying a similar cartoon depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, this time engaged in a sloppy kiss with another man. Fortunately, this provocation failed to provoke, and the story fell from the headlines.

Now that protests have erupted around the world in response to an amateurish anti-Muslim film posted on Youtube, Charlie Hedbo has seized the opportunity to add fuel to the fire with another round of provocative cartoons. Facing criticism, the paper defended the cartoons, citing free speech.

Indeed, the cartoon is protected and legitimate free speech, even if it is a deliberate provocation.

However, that doesn’t mean the decision to publish the cartoons is above criticism, or that anyone who objects is somehow curtailing the paper’s free speech rights.  In fact, criticism and counter arguments are also an important part of free speech rights. Peaceful protests are also a perfectly legitimate response–as long as they remain peaceful.

Even among staunch free speech advocates who defend the paper’s right to publish the cartoon, there is some question of what constitutes good judgement, especially under present circumstances.  The Guardian is conducting a poll, asking the question:

UK Guardian: Are Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the prophet Muhammad a necessary stand for free speech or a pointless provocation?

At the time of this writing, more than two thirds say the cartoons constitute free speech, and less than a third say it is a provocation. The question itself seems a bit misleading, however, because the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Publishing the cartoons is arguably both legitimate and protected free speech, and also a provocation, though not necessarily “pointless.” The obvious point seems to be drawing worldwide attention, once again, to an otherwise unremarkable French satirical newspaper.

The debate over the boundaries of free speech will rage on, but as Garibaldi said in his article following the firebombing of Charlie Hedbo offices last fall:

You have the cartoonish hook-nosed-goofy-smirking-Ayrab-Mooslim with some weird looking turban on his head.

Charlie Hebdo knew what it was doing, they wished to provoke, they created a buzz and got world-wide media attention for their magazine which had little following outside of France.

A proper response by those offended or upset would have been to peacefully protest, or to satirize the Charlie Hebdo publication, or to do as most have done and simply ignore it.

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  • DrM

    loony lolo,

    It’s not bigotry to expose the filthy degenerate French mentality for what it is. Yes, incest is legal in France. You tried to side step that with some snarky incomplete reference to marriage amongst various degrees in parts of the Muslim world.
    Don’t be an apologist for unhygienic frogs, save yourself from the embarrassment.

  • Lolo

    “What a shock, coming from the same degenerate French society where incest is legal. This is not “free speech” but another desperate provocation by losers trying to cash in on hate and racism.
    Instead of renovating various French embassies, Muslims should initiate a cultural and economic boycott of these regressive French bastards. North Africa is the ideal place to start, with the removal the French language from school curriculum. Time for De-francification.”

    I’m surprised such bigotry is not being challenged on a site that makes it its mission to supposedly counteract bigotry. I also find it ironic that a muslim would criticize a society for allowing incest, with all the cou

  • Bob

    I have seen both the tasteless pictures of the Pope in German’s Titanic magazine, depicting his urinary incontinence on the front cover and bowel incontinence on the other. And I have seen the Charlie Hebdo cover — which actually covers some new ground by depicting ugly racial stereotypes of both Jew and an Arab one one side, and some juvenile pornography on the other.

    If these are “exercises in defending free speech,” as even the liberal media defend them, then the societies that speak this way don’t really have all that much to say — beyond bashing others.

    But bashing is really the point. England, Germany, France — most of the West, and a colonial West at that — still thinks in terms of a “Leitkultur” — of a normative culture that everyone should be hammered into. Marine LePen doesn’t want either headscarves on Muslim women or yarmulkes on Jewish men. The American “melting pot” doesn’t want its WASP “gold” devalued by copper, aluminum, or zinc. As one can see from the Tea Party, English, White, and Christian [newsflash: newly updated to "Judeo-Christian" so that the racists can shed their previously antisemitic reputations] is what the nation “should” be. Screw all those other people.

    So let’s not miss the point: putting minorities in fear and on the defensive, and preserving the Leitkultur, if just for a little while longer, is what it’s all about.

  • Pingback: Charlie Hedbo: Free Speech or Mindless Opportunism | Islamophobia Today eNewspaper

  • http://ww.drmaxtor.blogspot.com DrM

    Carr,

    I was going to reply to you in full but realized you’re a bigoted and disingenuous idiot who’s never read a real history book. You neither understand Zionism or the Coptic fanatics like Morris Sadek who called on “israel” to invade Egypt, and stir up sectarian tensions. Great PR for their “cause.” If you knew the first thing about theology you would know that there’s no such thing as “Jewish nationalism,” those are code words for Zionism, which at it’s heart is secular but is happy to use messianic Christian idiots and Jewish lunatics living 5000 years in the past. It’s not that you didn’t understand my point about Bethlehem, you simply ignored it because it wiped out your lie and generalization about Muslim rule. Apparently real live anti-Christian cleansing in Palestine by invading Zionist terrorists for nearly five decades isn’t of concern to you as the flights of “persecution” fancy of Coptic fraudsters trying to get quick residency in the West. The reality Carr ol’ boy is that you don’t care, this is about politics and domination. So Muslims shouldn’t have “special rights”(whatever that is) yet Zionist terrorists and their shabbos goyim underlings should free to do whatever they want, everything from making up monstrous lies to committing mass murder waging war against Muslim states. The war in Iraq comes to mind. You sound like a typical Geehad Watch reader high on Spencers daily droppings.
    The rest of your rubbish post reveals that you obviously live in a very fragile glass house. I don’t even think it’s worth cleaning. Envious of pathetic western fanatics, thieves, terrorists, colonizers, hate mongers, brigands and buffoons of your ilk? I think not.
    Go back to FOX news, and leave the discussion to the adults.

  • Carr

    Dr M, I’m not sure I understand your point, from Bethlehem’s Christians, who don’t want to be under islamic rule? what’s your point or the link here? Mecca is Christian free, Christians are being driven out of the Muslim Middle East, why are you talking about history thousands of years ago? I’m talking of today. Why are you talking of Christian free Bethlehem, if what the Zionist is doing is no different to what the muslim of today is doing? Nor do I understand why Jewish nationalism is any worse than muslim imperialism. I’m not sure why you even brought that up, except maybe to justify your false claim that Zionists are behind this movie? It’s totally a Christian or Copt nationalist affair.

    Why should we accept that Copts are less entitled to Egypt than muslim Egyptians? Christians were there longer than and even before the muslims.
    The muslims have to claim or no greater claim to Egypt than the Copts. Do you agree that Bosnian nationalism is somehow something we should reject or do you hypocritically overlook that because they’re muslim? you don’t call for imperialist muslims to abandon their own independence from berbers, arabs, persians, europe, Greece, India.

    You were blaming Zionist Jews for a Christian movie by pretending only zionist Jews are muslim haters. Either you’re ignorant, in which case stop shooting your mouth, or you’re one of those ignorant muslims who blame their countries problems on supposed richer and better folks, casting the envious eye doesn’t endear the reader to you. It’s clear from your post, you have contempt for Copts and Zionists, and probably everyone else except muslim imperialists. Clean your own house first before pointing fingers. You have no business criticising Jewish or Copt desire for independence, by pretending they insitigate hate against muslims. Give them indpendence and they wont’ hate you. If you object to their wanting indpendence, or say they have no right to because of their bigotry, then how much less deserving are you of any independence for your bigotry. By you I mean you and those muslims who think like you. muslims have no special rights to independence, nor any right to dictate whether Copts or Zionists should want indpendence for their respective communities, (Egyptian Christian Copts and Jews).

  • DrM

    Carr said :

    “The role of atheists, and the role of Christian right wingers in fomenting Islamophobia is greater than that of zionist Jews or others who see extremist muslims as a threat. ”

    Wrong. Atheists are a tiny and inconsequential group. Right wing Christians ARE Zionists, obsessed with “israel” and promoting it’s imperial agenda in the Middle East. “Extremist Muslims” are just an excuse. Zionist Jews have their work cut out for them, but there’s no doubt they are the head of the snake.

    “It makes perfect sense for like minded activists to join forces in ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.”

    No it doesn’t given how Christians in Palestine are treated by the “israelis.” Bethlehem used to be a Christian majority city throughout centuries of Muslim rule, yet in just 40 plus years of “israeli” occupation became de-Christianized. Pick up a history book.

    “Copts deserve an end to their persecution, and independence.”

    What persecution? I don’t doubt that some Copts,(as have many Muslims) have been mistreated. Are they being herded into concentration camps and being killed off? Or is this fantasy created by Coptic liars in the West using such stories to gain quick refugee status and speed up their green card processing times?
    Coptic Christians were ruthlessly persecuted by the Byzantines for rejecting the Council of Chalcedon. Ironically, they WELCOMED the Muslim invaders as liberators so they could seek freedoms that were long denied to them by their fellow co-religionists. They need to stop playing politics and peddling hatred against Muslims if they want their grievances taken seriously.

  • http://www.fivechinesecrackers.com/ Tinka Boutit

    I do NOT believe in the inevitability of conflict as being existential, I’ll leave that to the Loons.

    People of good hearts can try to face up to & understand the rare differences & then gently de-escalate based on genuine respect for diversity.

    Human beings are complex & so are their motivations.

    Even Zionists can be graded between >

    Jews & non-Jews.
    Those inspired by “Never Again” & those by blind racist hate of chauvinist colonialism i.e. those who treat humanity as one & those who characterize the foe as germs.

    With regard to “some” Western Copts >
    Yes they may be extremists trying to take revenge on ALL Muslims, but one cannot ignore the historical context & current minority status.

  • Carr

    DrM said “Oh yes, the “knomenist press” lol. Given the role of Zionist jews in fomenting Islamophobia, it’s hardly a stretch. I doubt those Coptic idiots did it all by themselves. ”

    Why couldn’t they have? ‘bacile’s’ partner runs “Media for Christ” which is funded by christian rightists who either want muslims out of the USA or islamic influence capped. Sadek and Nasrallah who are allies of Bassouly, can hardly be described as ‘Copt idiots’. They touched all the right buttons to get a response. Only an idiot would think that Copt who lives and sees discrimination first hand, wouldn’t know the achilles heel of their persecutors. The role of atheists, and the role of Christian right wingers in fomenting Islamophobia is greater than that of zionist Jews or others who see extremist muslims as a threat. The silent majority keep quiet, and are unwilling to confront any prejudice unless forced to do so, when public opinion demands.

    It makes perfect sense for like minded activists to join forces in ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Copts deserve an end to their persecution, and independence.

  • Carr

    Yitzhak Goodman, the ’100 Jews’ was typical Copt Jew hatred. Their hatred of muslims is understandable, if you consider that 10% of Egyptians are Copts who are persecuted. Probably the most virulently anti Arab spring in Egypt people in Egypt are the Copts. This movie was just waiting to happen. Of course the anti Christian muslims are also Jew haters, and they oppose Copt separatists, for just like they oppose Jewish Israel.

    All the more reason for the US to support the splitting of Egypt, and give Copts the dignity of freedom too. Copt Land, should be on the UN agenda

    Coptic Christians » People behind the movie mostly considered extremists, fringe players.

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/world/54935973-68/coptic-egypt-christians-copts.html.csp
    Whoever made this film is such an outlier in their community that it’s completely unrepresentative,” Dickinson said. “But what it does is, it taps into this frustration of always being persecuted back in Egypt and let’s not downplay that. To be a Copt in Egypt now is a very, very difficult life because, especially after the Arab Spring, it’s open season.”

    Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, is the man federal authorities have said is behind the film, though he has only acknowledged publicly that he was involved in management and logistics. He has a criminal record that includes drug and check fraud convictions, and he has been in hiding since leaving his suburban Los Angeles home last weekend.

    Media for Christ was listed as the production company for the film and its headquarters was where most of the movie was made. Its president is Joseph N. Abdelmasih, an outspoken critic of Muslims who also has gone into hiding. Steve Klein, a California insurance agent who has dedicated his life to warning the world about Muslim extremism, has said he was a consultant and promoter of the film.

    Nakoula and Abdelmasih are followers of a U.S. Coptic priest named Zakaria Botros Henein, who has not been linked to the film but owns a home in Orange County and has been called Islam’s Public Enemy No. 1 for his teachings disparaging the faith.

  • RDS

    @ali: damn, remember that Draw a Muhammad Day in campuses and stuff?

    One group drew a stick figure calling it Muhammad.

    A counter protester drew boxing gloves on the figure and added “Ali”.

    That’s how you do counter-protest, people!

  • Ilisha

    @Ali

    “Please stop calling the cartoon as Prophet Muhammad cartoons and this movie as prophet Muhammad movie. This has nothing to do with our prophet (PBUH).”

    I agree and said similar in an earlier comment:

    “Why concede these vile cartoons in any way represent the Prophet Muhammad? They don’t.”

  • Ali

    How many of you will agree with me if I show you a cartoon of George Bush and say it is Tony Blair?
    I am guessing the answer is ‘nobody’. Why?
    To call it a cartoon of Blair it should resemble Blair, else it could be anybody.
    I am wondering what similarity, if any, the hundreds of cartoons that were called cartoons of ‘prophet Muhammad’ have with prophet (PBUH) himself. If there is no resemblance then can we just laugh at the poor attempt of provocation and move on? If we start to accept every image that was called ‘Prophet Muhammad’ as that of our prophet (PBUH) then are we not committing a sin of giving him a face? A face drawn by some bigot?
    Coming to the so called “anti-Islam” movie itself, why are we calling this movie as a movie about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when none of the things described about the character have any resemblance to the prophet (PBUH) life?
    Please stop calling the cartoon as Prophet Muhammad cartoons and this movie as prophet Muhammad movie. This has nothing to do with our prophet (PBUH).
    Most of the cartoon and movie controversies have died their own death without the world ever knowing it had it not been for the protests which I feel are baseless. Whenever a bigot draw an image and call it prophet Muhammad people believe his words.

  • http://www.fivechinesecrackers.com/ Tinkaboutit

    @DrM & mjasghar > good points.

    In the global village, there ARE (slightly) different values e.g. Murder is normally taboo, except under extreme situations.

    For civilized as opposed to savage people, the question is how can the global villagers avoid hurting the MOST sensitive & important values of others.

    Frankly speaking, the most important values are those that we are ready to ban, kill & die for.

    For the Westphalian French, it may be National Interest, which includes subsets such as resources e.g. financial .If these face issues, then the priority of interests comes into play.

    One cannot be naive, sadly, the Social Darwinist world follows the rule of the jungle e.g. power politics. Why else does the US pay attention to China ?

    The Muslims who claim to “love the Prophet more than all of Creation” must not bluff this game of high stakes poker.

    National Governments (as representatives of the people) & ordinary laypersons should maximize their power potential & choose whether to use it e.g. build up unity & assets.

    If “Muslims” do not love the Prophet more than Creation (with their wealth & children), please don’t bother with the rest of it, with hypocritical piety, & don’t moan about Muslims being abused/killed.

  • Michael Elwood

    @Géji

    “Michael, the cover may well be seeming to you “anti-sectarian”, mostly using bitter, over-generalization denunciation against other fellow Muslims themed “Sunnis, Shias”, but the content takes a life of its own division, sectarianism.”

    How does one condemn sectarianism without themselves being accused of sectarianism? It’s a catch-22. Unfortunately, many sectarians don’t distinguish between unity and uniformity. The former is a virtue in Islam, the latter isn’t.

    “When one particular position of adherents thinks they holds some sort of superiority on faith over another particular position, and think it holds the version of ‘truth’, especially by denigrating the other version of adherents, they create their own biased partisanship of the divide.”

    I agree. But aren’t you telling that to the wrong people? Shouldn’t you tell that to the sectarians denigrating and killing each other?

    “By the way Micheal, one accepting of hadiths doesn’t make one automatically so-called “Sunni – Shia”, as oppose to being simply what one who believe in Islam should to be called, anyway, i.e., simply a Muslim. And I think those that hold and promote such extreme view on other fellow Muslims, just because they happen to accept what they reject and claim ‘unworthy’, only contribute to the divide and are no different than those they’re complaining about.”

    Each hadith collection has it’s own sectarian flavor. That’s why Sunni and Shia have their own collections that they follow. And neither believes the other’s collection should be followed. Furthermore, I don’t believe that Muslims who don’t follow either collection are extreme. But I don’t want to belabor the point since it has already been discussed in the past:

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/02/muhammad-is-the-99-percent/#comment-139286

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/02/muhammad-is-the-99-percent/#comment-139417

  • http://aayjay.wordpress.com AJ

    @Ilisha,

    Thank you, very much!

  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 5:32)

    Yitchak
    For me its about intent . The intent of the scam film in the USA is I think an attempt to steal lots of money by telling people you have made a film when in reality you have only made a trailer and cannot release a film because its too dangerous. Bit like Mel Brooks “the producers ” remember “spring time with hitler”?
    For Carlie Hedbo its a cynical attempt to get publicity.
    For Money Python firstly its entertainment and they spoof everyone no one is safe but then no one is singled out alone . There is no claim to truth or overt politics in fact its very silly ;-).
    I thought the bit about the cross very funny too . It said more about the awful reality of being crucified than many a speech I have heard in church.

    Sir David

  • Géji

    @Michael Elwood,

    “It’s more anti-sectarian than sectarian.”

    Michael, the cover may well be seeming to you “anti-sectarian”, mostly using bitter, over-generalization denunciation against other fellow Muslims themed “Sunnis, Shias”, but the content takes a life of its own division, sectarianism.

    “I’ve always had an anti-sectarian streek”

    Micheal, though may be you have, and maybe the author of the article you linked hoped aspiring to do such decry, of some Muslims behave within our faith, I think most Muslims do as well decry such. But, the content of the article says otherwise, and is in itself spelling divisiveness and sectarianism (as one of many examples of it being the quote JSB brought). When one particular position of adherents thinks they holds some sort of superiority on faith over another particular position, and think it holds the version of ‘truth’, especially by denigrating the other version of adherents, they create their own biased partisanship of the divide.

    By the way Micheal, one accepting of hadiths doesn’t make one automatically so-called “Sunni – Shia”, as oppose to being simply what one who believe in Islam should to be called, anyway, i.e., simply a Muslim. And I think those that hold and promote such extreme view on other fellow Muslims, just because they happen to accept what they reject and claim ‘unworthy’, only contribute to the divide and are no different than those they’re complaining about.

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