Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Charlie Hebdo in its own Words: Translation of ‘Tout est pardonné’ Leader.

with 13 comments

CharlieThere is a mountain of commentary about Charlie Hebdo. Few, particularly the most hostile to the Weekly, take the trouble to look at more than the Front Page, let alone the articles. Despite some excellent pieces explaining what Charlie is about and where it stands on the French left, the content of the magazine gets skimmed over.

The degree of ignorance this absence fosters is perhaps best indicated by Socialist Workers’ claim that, “Charlie Hebdo is a strange combination—a left wing paper that’s become notorious for its racist attacks on Muslims. Its murdered editor, cartoonist Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier,  considered himself a progressive, anti-establishment figure. Yet the paper is steeped in a “republican” tradition that sees the state as progressive and everything from minority languages to religion as its enemy.” (Socialist Worker). SW even directly smeared the paper talking of the toke it “has played in the legitimisation of racism in France.”Galloway and the Stop the War Coalition have made similar declarations, asserting that Charlie is Islamophobic.

They appear not to have the courage – or perhaps the ability, or (more probably the honesty)  – to read what Charlie actually says. It is not in the least bit ‘strange’. Indeed French leftists find the British left’s failure to confront Islamist religious bigotry and state sponsored religious authority less than ‘progressive’. Not to mention Socialist Worker’s decision to publish material claiming that the overseas jihadists fighting with the genociders of  ISIS could be compared with volunteers for the Republic in the Spanish civil war. Some – as in the comments box here – claim that it represented “imperialism and Zionism”.

This, the Leader of the famous  Tout est pardonné issue, makes it brilliantly clear what Charlie’s secularism is about – something very different to these distorted charges.

I have rendered the syntax and idioms into colloquial English rather than give a literal translation.

People will be able to make their own judgements – free from the prissy censors of oh so British liberals and the ‘left’ enemies of Charlie.

Est-ce qu’il y aura encore des “oui mais”?

Are there still the “Yes buts?”

For a week, Charlie, an atheist paper, has achieved more miracles than all the saints and the prophets together. This is the one of which we are the proudest, that you have in your hands the weekly which we have always produced, by the group who have always produced it. The thing that made us laugh the most is that the bells of Notre-Dame rang out in our honour…

For a week, as portrayed so wonderfully by Willem, Charlie has moved, across the world, more than mountains. Charlie has masses of new friends: people without a name, world celebrities, the lowest and the most privileged, sinners and religious dignitaries, the sincere and the Jesuitical, those who’ll be with us for life, and those who are only here for a short time.

At present we accept all of these people and haven’t the will or the time to distinguish amongst them. Not that we are fooled for a moment. But we gives our heartfelt thanks to those, the millions, whether they’re ordinary citizens or those who are part of the established institutions, who are genuinely on our side, who have found each other here, who “are Charlie”. And we say to those who couldn’t give a toss: fuck off!

One question, nevertheless, vexes us: is the denigrating expression, “secularist intellectual” (laïcard intellectuel) going to be dropped from the political vocabulary? Are we finally going to stop finding learned circumlocutions to put murderers and their victims in the same basket?

Over the last years we’ve felt rather alone, trying with our cartoons to push back the muck and intellectual trickery that has been thrown against our friends who’ve staunchly defended secularism (laïcité). That we’re Islamophobes, Christianophobes, provocateurs, irresponsible, throwing fuel on the fire, racists, and ….you got what’s coming to you. Yes, we condemn terrorism, but. Yes, threatening cartoonists with death is not good, but. Yes, burning down a paper isn’t right, but.

We’ve heard all that, and our friends have too. We’ve often tried to laugh it off – that is, after all what we do best. And yet, it’s begun again. The blood of Cabu, Charb, Honoré, Tignous, Wolinski, Elsa Cayat, Bernard Maris, Mustapha Ourrad, Michel Renaud, Franck Brinsolaro, Frédéric Boisseua, Ahmed Merabet, Clarissa Jean-Philippe, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, François-Michel Saada, had not even dried before Thierry Mayssan had explained to his Facebook fans that this was, obviously, a Jewish-American-Western plot.

We already hear, after Sunday’s demonstrations, from those who turned up their noses at the march. Their lips slavering, they’ve come out with the old arguments that justify, overtly or covertly, religious fascism. They are enraged at the praise given to the ‘SS’ Police.

No – in this massacre there is no death less worthy than any other. Franck, who died in Charlie’s offices, and all his colleagues murdered during the week of barbarism, met their deaths defending ideas which are, perhaps, not their own.

We are going to try, regardless, to be optimistic, even if it’s not at present the fashion. We will hope that, from the 7th of January onwards, everybody will firmly defend secularism. That it will not be accepted, as a pose, or out of electoral considerations, or by cowardice, to legitimate, or even tolerate, communalism and cultural relativism. This only opens the way to one thing: religious totalitarianism.

Yes, the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a reality, Yes geopolitics are a series of manoeuvres and low blows, yes social conditions for those called “people of Muslim origin” in France are deeply unfair, Yes, we must never stop fighting racism and discrimination. There are, fortunately, many means to deal with these serious problems. But every one of them is ineffective without one: secularism (laïcité). Not ‘positive’ secularism, not ‘inclusive’ secularism, but secularism – full stop.

Only this, because it’s based on universal rights, can bring about equality, liberty, fraternity and sorority. Only this allows full freedom of thought, a liberty that, more or less openly, according to their marketing position, every religion rejects as soon as it leaves private life, and enters into political territory. Only this allows, ironically, believers to live undisturbed. All of those who claim to defend Muslims, and who accept a totalitarian religious discourse, defend in effect their own butchers. The first victims of Islamic fascism are Muslims.

The millions of anonymous people, all the official institutions, all the heads of government, all the political, intellectual and media personalities, all the religious dignitaries who, during this week, have proclaimed “Je suis Charlie” should know ‘I am Secularism’ – Je suis la laïcité‘. We are convinced that, for the majority of those who’ve supported us, this goes without saying. We will let the others deal with their own shit.

There is one final important thing. We’d like to send a message to Pope Francis, who’s been this week himself a Je suis Charlie. We’ll accept that the bells of Notre Dame ring out in our honour when it’s Femen who pull them.


13 Responses

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  1. Oh lord, FEMEN. FEMEN is some fake-feminist bullshit. Je Ne Suis Pas Victor Svyatski.

  2. That’s as may be Jason, but not many Western ‘fake feminists’ get subjected to “threats, kidnapping, beating and other intimidation.”


    Andrew Coates

    January 24, 2015 at 4:59 pm

  3. “Indeed French leftists find the British left’s failure to confront Islamist religious bigotry and state sponsored religious authority less than ‘progressive’.”

    Of course, because the Islamist menace is the biggest problem the French left faces. Let’s ignore their shameful failure to undertake serious anti-fascist work over the last 40 years and so allow the Front Nationale to reach such terrifying heights.

    Let’s also ignore their shameful capitulation to state sponsored racism over the banning of the hijab. After all everybody knows that women wearing headscarves are a greater threat to democracy than fascism.

    I wonder, if the National Front controlled a dozen cities, had 24 MEPs and was capable of putting 250,000+ on the streets to oppose same sex marriage, would I be so keen to share their criticism of the religious beliefs of a small proportion of the non-white population?

    I hope not, but hey, nobody’s perfect!

    Dave Spart

    January 24, 2015 at 6:38 pm

  4. The progressive anti-racist law on ostentatious religious symbols – which is an attempt to fight religious divisions amongst students and block zealous enforcers of Muslims dress codes – in schools is supported by the majority of the French left.

    Obviously secular equality is something those who display sympathy for Islamism and the institutionalised power of religion in education in the UK foam at the mouth at.

    As for giving lessons to the French left on the Front National, perhaps the very British left might care to look at UKIP and suggest how they are going to wish them away.

    Andrew Coates

    January 25, 2015 at 11:23 am

  5. People are so dishonest about the hijab. Over on ‘Socialist Unity’ (sic) yesterday the posters were arguing that is was no different to workingclass women wearing a headscarf to protect their rollers thirty years ago. Joke, if they don’t know what they are dealing with, they should shut the fuck up. The hijab is a badge to distinguish a Muslim woman from a non-Muslim women. It is also an acceptance that they are sexual slaves to their (current) husband. It is a sign of the rejection of the basic Enlightenment maxim that ‘All men(people) are equal’. The laws of hijab aslo mandate that mena nd women eat separentely, sleep separately, do not converse with men they are unrelated to. It actually fouls up the functioning of a modern state, which is one of the reasons that Islamic states cannot progress economically, unless they have the good fortune to be sitting on a massive oil or gas deposit or they have lots of Chinese or Indian labour to do the thinking and hard work for them. So, yeah, women wearing ‘headscarves’ are a threat to democracy. Just as not allowing free speech is a threat. Over on Socialist Unity (sic), Omar stated that he was glad the French socialist view was ‘history’. I think that tells you all you need to know. And, dear old Andy Newman is doing his best to utter soothing words.

    Sue R

    January 25, 2015 at 2:14 pm

  6. Yet somehow this “anti-racist” law is deployed against the headscarves of a minority whilst the majority are free to wear their crucifixes if they choose. This enforced “secularism” would feel to me like racial discrimination if I was on the receiving end. Which is exactly the view of many Muslim women in France. The fact that the French left has abandoned them is utterly dismaying.

    Detestable though UKIP is it isn’t a fascist organisation and comparing it to the FN will only get us ridiculed. It isn’t even as as extreme as the PVV in its populism – at the moment they run scared of anything that can get them identified as racist. In part that is the result of decades of work by the left in the UK to push manifestations of racism out of the public arena. Something we should all be proud of.

    UKIP is an attempt by the right to push back and, yes, we need to stop them dragging all political discourse further to the right. Maybe the answer is Stand up to UKIP or maybe its having an election campaign for a progressive alternative to austerity. I really don’t know what will work, but I’m glad to see the general agreement on the left that they need to be stopped.

    One thing that definitely won’t help is demonising minorities. Ignorant generalisations about other cultures just reinforce the racism we’re supposed to be anti-.

    Dave Spart

    January 25, 2015 at 5:40 pm

  7. Two searate things: free sppeech and racial discriminaton. Proportionate response also comes into it somewhere. Oh, Marx, oh that you were living at this hour!

    Sue R

    January 25, 2015 at 6:38 pm

  8. “Two se[p]arate things: free sppeech and racial discriminaton. Proportionate response also comes into it somewhere. Oh, Marx, oh that you were living at this hour!”

    And does making sense have anything to do with it?

    Dave Spart

    January 25, 2015 at 6:54 pm

  9. They are not free to wear ostentatious crosses in public French schools. That is, “une croix de dimensions manifestement excessives.”

    I suggest you read this before you make more ignorant comments.

    Laïcité à l’école : les règles.


    Andrew Coates

    January 26, 2015 at 12:58 pm

  10. My comment about ignorance was aimed at Sue R (possibly a troll?) not you. I am aware how these rules apply though I consider them to have been written/interpreted so as to permit explicit religious symbols, viz crucifixes, whilst treating a headscarf which is devoid of any religious symbols as beyond the pale.

    If you genuinely can’t see how this is being used to oppress Muslims, may I recommend the words of Anatole France:

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

    That’s all from me. Good luck with your blog.

    Dave A

    Dave Spart

    January 26, 2015 at 2:57 pm

  11. I’m a troll am I? More of a fairy princess. Anyway, the headscarf is freighted with religious significance as I indicated above. But, hey, let’s not anything get in your way of fighting the French State. (sarc).

    Sue R

    January 26, 2015 at 8:29 pm

  12. […] Charlie Hebdo in its own Words: Translation of ‘Tout est pardonné’ Leader […]

  13. http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/an-aussie-politician-has-gone-off-to-fight-the-islamic-state-brilliant/16518#.VMdrZoiQGK0

    ‘Spiked’ reports on an Aussie Labour politician who has gone off to fight with the Kurds against Islamic State.


    John R

    January 27, 2015 at 11:46 am

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