|What Voltaire might have said to Charlie Hebdo - and the answer below. Cartoon: Ironman|
By Olivier Tonneau writing for France's Mediapart
LAST week, a horrid assault was perpetrated against the French weekly Charlie Hebdo, who had published caricatures of Muhammad, by men who screamed that they had “avenged the prophet”. A wave of compassion followed but apparently died shortly afterward and all sorts of criticism started pouring down the web against Charlie Hebdo, who was described as Islamophobic, racist and even sexist.
Countless other comments stated that Muslims were being ostracised and finger-pointed. In the background lurked a view of France founded upon the “myth” of laïcité, defined as the strict restriction of religion to the private sphere, but rampantly Islamophobic - with passing reference to the law banning the integral veil. One friend even mentioned a division of the French Left on a presumed “Muslim question”.
As a Frenchman and a radical left militant at home and here in UK, I was puzzled and even shocked by these comments and would like, therefore, to give you a clear exposition of what my Left-wing French position is on these matters.
Firstly, a few words on Charlie Hebdo, which was often “analysed” in the British press on the sole basis, apparently, of a few selected cartoons. It might be worth knowing that the main target of Charlie Hebdo was the Front National and the Le Pen family. Next came crooks of all sorts, including bosses and politicians (incidentally, one of the victims of the shooting was an economist who ran a weekly column on the disasters caused by austerity policies in Greece).