Freedom of Expression, My Foot!
While browsing the web pages on the contemporary mischief called “Charlie Hebdo”, I found this well-documented article entitled ‘Freedom of Speech in France: For the Powerful, By the Powerful, With the Powerful.’ 16 shocking examples of #FreeSpeech double standards.
I am reproducing this article here with a modified title. Please read on, Inshaaallah.
“It remains very obvious for those informed that freedom of speech does not exist anywhere in the world if it does not suit the ruling paradigm or ideology.”
France’s (and the West’s) claim that free expression is a ‘fundamental principle’ is a myth, an opiate of the masses, explicitly invoked for anti-Semitic purposes in the years leading up to the holocaust, and has recently been used to whip up hatred of immigrants, ethnic minorities and Muslims. As everywhere else in the ‘Free World’, in France, free expression is for some but not others:
1. A French court injunction banned a Jesus based clothing advert mimicking Da Vinci’s Last Supper. The display was ruled “a gratuitous and aggressive act of intrusion on people’s innermost beliefs”, by the French judge.
2. In 2005 ‘Aides Haute-Garonne’ organized an informative evening about the prevention of the HIV-AIDS. The prospectus contained a head-and-shoulders image of a woman wearing a nun’s bonnet and two pink condoms. On the grounds that the prospectus insulted a group because of its religion, a court convicted Aides Haute-Garonne.
3. In 1994 Le quotidien de Paris published the article L’obscurité de l’erreur by journalist, sociologist, and historian Paul Giniewski. The article criticises the Pope, and states that Catholic doctrine abetted the conception and the realisation of Auschwitz. A court upheld proceedings on the ground that the article was an insult to a group because of its religion, and convicted the newspaper.
4. ‘Charlie Hebdo Magazine’ itself censored, apologised and then fired longtime cartoonist Siné for a caricature insulting the son of former president Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, while staunchly standing on their ‘right’ to repeatedly troll Muslims, minorities and immigrants e.g. by showing a caricature of a stereotypical Arab whom they imply to be the Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) naked and bending over – which tells you something about the brand of satire they practice and that they would rather be aiming downward than upward.
5. Dieudonné M’Bala a French comedian and satirist – was convicted and fined in France for describing Holocaust remembrance as “memorial pornography”.
6. The ‘Quennele’ hand sign has been described as anti-establishment and anti-zionist by French youth and famous football players (e.g. Anelka). It stoked serious controversy in France since first being used by anti-establishment comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala in 2005. M’Bala has been barred from many theatres and convicted many times for his ‘freedom of speech.'
7. As part of “internal security” enactments passed in 2003, it is an offense to insult the national flag or anthem, with a penalty of a maximum 9,000 euro or up to six months’ imprisonment. Restrictions on “offending the dignity of the republic”, on the other hand, include “insulting” anyone who serves the public.
8. French Rap Star Facing Prison for Insulting the French State, insulting Napoleon andCharles de Gaulle. It is illegal to insult the French state and it seems historical characters like Napoleon and Charles De Gaulle are sacred. But Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), the leading light and ideal of divine justice for 1.5 billion people is open to criticism?
9. Nicolas Sarkozy, then-Interior Minister and former President of the Republic until 2012, ordered the firing of the director of Paris Match — because he had published photos of Cécilia Sarkozy (his wife) with another man in New York.
10. In 2006, rapper ‘Joestarr’ had his rap song against President Sarkozy censored.
11. The following films have been censored in France for provoking violence:
L’Essayeuse (1976) Romance (1999) Le Mur (2011)
12. Under France’s “Public Health Code” passed on the 31 December 1970, “positive presentation of drugs” and the “incitement to their consumption” stipulates five years in prison and fines of up to €76,000. Newspapers such as Libération, Charlie Hebdo and associations, political parties, and various publications criticising the current drug laws and advocating drug reform in France have been repeatedly hit with heavy fines based on this law.
13. Muslim women are barred from education (No, not just by the Taliban) in France, if they practise their religion by wearing a headscarf, despite French schools having no policy on uniforms, neither are crosses on necklaces allowed.
14. “France’s law against “religious symbols in public spaces” is specifically enforced to target Muslim women who choose to wear hijab—ironic considering we are now touting Charlie Hebdo as a symbol of France’s staunch commitment to civil liberties.”
15. It is illegal in France to take the opinion of the Turkish side on the then civil war involving Armenians. It is illegal to deny that the killing of Armenians by Turkish troops was a deliberate genocide.
16. In 2007, a tribunal in Lyon sentenced Bruno Gollnisch and fined him €5,000 for the offense of contesting some of the information about the Holocaust and ordered him to pay €55,000 euros in damages to the plaintiffs and to pay for the judgment to be published in the newspapers that originally printed his remarks.