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George Galloway Says: Hello Ladies! Hello Libel Law Débâcle!

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 Hello Ladies!  Go on say it, you know you want to!

We recently heard about George Galloway when he mysteriously disappeared from Socialist Worker’s list of top MP outside “earners” – he was number 3.

Thanks to the prompt action of Tendance Coatesy the SWP’s accidental oversight was swiftly corrected.

Now we learn that he may need every penny he snaffles from Russia Today, Press TV (Iran’s pro-regime broadcaster), not to mention two appearances on the Edinburgh Fringe (Register of Members’ Interests).

The old todger is now in yet another row:

Complaints to solicitors’ regulator over libel demands from Galloway’s lawyers.

Complaints have been sent to the Solicitors Regulation Authority by Twitter users who have received £6,000 libel demands from solicitors working for the MP George Galloway.

The bitter legal dispute, which has erupted over accusations of antisemitism, has become more complex after Galloway’s office said the money would only be used to cover his law firm’s expenses and the Respect party leader would not “receive a penny”.

Reports the Guardian.

Ho ho!

It’s only losers that are prosecuted.

A less respectful (geddit) report than the Guardian’s says the following,

George Galloway’s high street firm faces rough ride as media law big guns back twitterati in libel row

Top media lawyers have implored the profession’s watchdog to investigate George Galloway’s law firm over its handling of the MP’s defamation claims against Twitter users.

The backlash against Bradford high street outfit Chambers Solicitors — which is best known for immigration work — began earlier this week after the emergence of a Twitter account called @SuedByGalloway, which implores:

“If you’re being sued by Galloway/Chambers Solicitors/ don’t worry — follow us so we can help you.”

Since then, several media law big guns have been working with the account to assist those threatened by Galloway. Legal Cheek can confirm that at least three well-known London libel lawyers are currently helping the tweeters fight the MP rather than pay demands for up to £5,000.

They include Mark Lewis, the leading media lawyer from the News of the World phone hacking saga, and defamation doyen Mark Stephens.

Lewis, of London law firm Seddons, told Legal Cheek that the costs figure “could never be justified” and that a complaint will be sent to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The saga began when Chambers Solicitors — acting for the firebrand Respect Party MP for Bradford West — sent at least a dozen tweeters demands that they settle or face defamation proceedings.

Galloway — who was famously expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 following his vocal opposition to the second Iraq invasion before going on to appear on Celebrity Big Brother three years later — alleges that those receiving the claims labelled him anti-Semitic on the social media site.

Responding to the Bradford law firm’s tactics, Lewis told Legal Cheek:

“A lawyer’s duty is to stand up for people who cannot otherwise defend themselves from very threatening demands. Mr Galloway’s solicitors claimed £5,000 plus VAT for standard letters on top of damages. That is horrific and brings the solicitor’s profession into disrepute. Mr Galloway’s spokesman says that the letters weren’t shown to the client before they were sent. That is a matter of practise and the SRA must investigate.”

More on Legal Cheek.

Meanwhile the Huffington Post (Sarah C Nelson) looks at the previous story,

George Galloway ‘Anti- Semitism’ Lawyers To Be Reported To Regulator

A legal firm acting for Respect MP George Galloway will be reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), it has emerged.

The development comes as a number of people reported receiving letters written by Chambers Solicitors acting on behalf of Galloway, demanding up to £5,000 libel costs + VAT and requesting public apologies for allegedly calling him anti-semitic.

As the letters began to arrive, a Twitter account was set up to offer free legal advice for the recipients – which has since gained the backing of several high profile lawyers including solicitor and libel expert Mark Stephens and Mark Lewis.

Lewis, who was a leading figure in the News of the World hacking scandal confirmed to the Huffington Post UK that he would be making a complaint to the SRA on behalf of three clients on Wednesday.

Informing Legal Cheek the costs demanded in the letters “could never be justified”, he said: “A lawyer’s duty is to stand up for people who cannot otherwise defend themselves from very threatening demands. Mr Galloway’s solicitors claimed £5,000 plus VAT for standard letters on top of damages. That is horrific and brings the solicitor’s profession into disrepute.

“Mr Galloway’s spokesman says that the letters weren’t shown to the client before they were sent. This is a matter of practice and the SRA must investigate.”

In an earlier conversation with HuffPost UK, Lewis added: “By all means defend a reputation where it is proper to do so but do not go back to the days of chilling people from speaking out.”

As Galloway would no doubt reply, “I’m demanding that they be prosecuted. I’m begging them to be prosecuted for perjury.”

Charlie Hebdo: Religious Authority and Political Power. Chahla Chafiq.

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Nassreddin: The Laughter of the Good will bring Low the Power of Divine Authority. 

Religious Authority and Political Power. Chahla Chafiq (1) 

Charlie Hebdo. 25th February 2015 (Translated and adapted).

“One of the tales of Nasreddin Hodja, the hero and 13th century author of many works - extremely popular in the Persian, Turkish, Armenian and Arab worlds – touches on the relationship between earthly power and religious authorities.

“Nasreddin, whilst still young, had just been dignified with the title of Mullah. He was thus able to be a teacher at the Madrassa. One morning he wanted to take down a volume, high up in the bookcase. He climbed on a pile of Qur’ans. One of his colleagues was outraged. “By Allah, Nasreddin! You are impudent! Aren’t you frightened of dirtying the Sacred Scriptures?” “I used to be afraid of that.” Nasreddin replied, “But now I’m a Mollah, the Qur’an should be afraid of me.”

The message of  Nasreddin is that, in the name of the divine, humanity can take such a degree of authority that it would scare even all-powerful God.

Behind the ironical smile in the story a great fear is hidden. We have directly experienced this dread, during the murders of the 7th of January, the result of a plan to exterminate the staff of Charlie Hebdo. Half a century before, on the 14th of February 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced his Fatwa against Salman Rushdie. The ruling unleashed a Holy War against disobedient writers. The actions of this religious leader, a head of state, and the Jihadist enterprise of the Kouachis and Coulibaly, have both the same basis: the Islamist will to institute the Sacred Order on Earth.

In this project terror is an indispensable tool. The Inquisition, the persecution of heretics, the Wars of Religion, have taught us that no religion is immune from such a turn. It happens the moment religion become the source of law that dictates the rules of life, of governance, and political authority.

Today’s Islamists have not ceased making plain to the world the dire results of the fusion between religion and politics. Their transformation of the concepts of the Umma (the Community of all Believers), of Harem, Halal and Jihad into ideological codes, have allowed to them to treat any refusal to bow to their Diktat as hatred of God, and to consider this a Satanic deed to be fought.

From Fatwa to Massacre.

A few months after the Fatwa against Rushdie several thousand political prisoners in Iran were “liquidated” following the same kind of ruling. These crimes, which remain unregistered internationally, were justified inside Iran as a means to cleanse the body of the Umma of impure elements. The same logic is used to maintain the Islamist order: assigning women and homosexuals to inferiority, anti-Semitism, privileging one religion or doctrine over another, and forbidding freedoms. This world-view gives the agents of Islamism an unlimited and unconstrained power. Injustice and immortality have become “duties” in the name of “divine justice” and the “moral order”.

In this fashion Islamism has joined the same outlook of “identity” movements of Christianity, Judaism and those from other religions. All of them recycle old conservative ideas – bringing them close to the far right. The domination of the market, which erodes the sense of belonging, an economic crisis that has created a social, cultural and political vacuum, at a time when humanist ideas are in retreat, have created a context within which these movements offer an appealing sense of “meaning”. Rivals, these competing identity movements have nevertheless been allies in order to stem advances in human rights. This has happened in France, over gay marriage and equality education in schools. It can be seen internationally every time there are moves to promote gender equality, sexual rights, and freedom of belief, of expression and creation.

The present development of these identity movements is a political phenomenon that cannot be grasped without taking account the context and the actors involved. Looking into the processes that have led to the rise and expansion of Islamism one can see straight away the impact of dictatorships that call themselves Muslim, including those who accept modernisation, but refuse democratic values in the name of protecting their cultural and confessional (culturel – see note 2) identity.

In the same picture we can see that these dictatorships have received the backing, past and present, of the most powerful states in the world, acting out of their own interests. Only yesterday the Western powers helped the growth of Islamism with their strategy of encircling the Soviet Union with a “green” cordon. Today, in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the manipulation of religious figures, Islamist and Jewish fundamentalist, has benefited pro-War supporters on every side.

Yet, we cannot reduce society to these elements. Where are the other people on the scene? What role do those who do not share these ideologies and interests play? What, in their own fields, are they doing with their resources to reflect, to act and to create?

Democracy and Secularism.

We have to admit that faced with the offensive of political-religious identity movements, many of these actors are paralysed by a series of confusions: between the cultural and the confessional (culturel), between Islamism and Islam, between democracy and imperialism. These confusions, whatever the intentions of those they originate with, have strengthened the vision of the Neoconservative supporters of a “war of civilisations”.

To escape from this there is only one-way out: to demolish the fantasy of a “Muslim World” and the “West” and to return to the reality of social, cultural and political struggles. From there we can raise the problem of “religion and politics” in relation to democratic ideals.

Founded on the recognition of the autonomy of individuals, free and equal, creators and subjects of laws, democracy, far from being just an affair of the ballot box, is a political project whose deepening means freedom from all intangible sacred power. Now, more than ever, secularism (laïcité) is a vital stake in advancing human rights and liberty.”

(1) Chahla Chafiq-Beski is an Iranian left-wing exile, writer and novelist who lives in France. Her latest book is Islam, politique, sexe et genre. PUF.  2011. “L’écriture est devenue mon lieu d’existence, hors frontières, pour vivre la liberté.” Writing has become my home, beyond frontiers, to be able to  live in freedom.”

Portrait de Chahla Chafiq

(2) Culturel – from Cult, same word as English, but primarily retaining the original sense of religious practice, confession.

Unite Against Fascism Unites Against French Anti-Racists’ Support for Charlie Hebdo.

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Racist Islamophobic Propaganda Says UAF.

This is how the leading French anti-racist, anti-fascist organisation, the MRAP (Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples  -Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples)  reacted to the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher at the Porte de Vincennes.

Restons Charlie : refusons le racisme et la haine 13th January.

We were on 11 January, millions who were “Charlie”: Stay “Charlie!”

Staying “Charlie” is to refuse racism and rejection of the Other. It is to reject scapegoating and to refuse to accept a ‘Patriot Act’ contrary to the values of the republic. The heinous crimes committed against the  kosher supermarket and  Charlie must be answered by the application of the law, but with even more urgency, more than “living together”, it needs solidarity. This requires us to ensure that the motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” are not mere words. This must become,  through our shared wills, the everyday  reality of life in our cities and in our neighbourhoods. Those who sow the seeds of racism,  considering one group as of lesser value, of exclusion,  sow the seeds of violence. We should adopt the words Zahia Ziouani, director of the Orchestra, “Divertimento”: “Obscurantism,  ignorance and intellectual poverty are the causes of the  tragedies we have just experienced. We have to overcome them through education and culture . “

Since 11 September 2001, the “war against terrorism” has only amplified chaos and led the world to a dangerous dead end. MRAP reiterates what it said 13 years ago: the war against terrorism cannot be won by individual action, it is the causes that must be addressed. We stand against the “war of civilizations” that has led the world to a catastrophic disaster. It is urgent to fight for a world of justice, peace and democracy!

And this is equally, if not more, important:

LES ASSOCIATIONS DE L’IMMIGRATION SOLIDAIRES AVEC CHARLIE HEBDO 11th January.

The Signatories of this appeal – Immigration associations – wish to denounce in the strongest possible terms these terrorist acts and salute the memory of the victims. We share the sorrow and grief of their families and relatives. We are in solidarity with the  whole team of “Charlie Hebdo”.

We take issue with wretched  attempts to trivialise or justify these crimes, and stand against conspiracy theories – already popping up on social networks-  and whose obvious motivation, a supposed defence of the sacred and efforts to deny the responsibility of the fanatics, is clearly based on a denial of the deadly reality.

We call for their total rejection and greater vigilance. Our condemnation  is clear and unambiguous We have complete solidarity with the families and relatives of the victims, and with the staff of “Charlie Hebdo”. We will not accept being lectured at, or being ordered around. We oppose any form of discrimination, lumping people and groups together, racism and Islamophobia.

Declaration of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo by:

Fédération des Tunisiens Citoyens des deux Rives – FTCR, Comité pour le Respect des Libertés et des Droits de l’Homme en Tunisie – CRLDHT,  Association des Tunisiens en France – ATF, Association des Travailleurs Maghrébins en France – ATMF, Association des Marocains en France – AMF,  Massira – Algérie,  Agir pour le Changement Démocratique en Algérie – ACDA, Association Citoyenne des Originaires de Turquie – ACORT, Association des Iraniens Républicains de Paris – AIRP, Comité Indépendant contre la Répression des Citoyens Iraniens – CIRCI, mmigration Développement Démocratie – IDD, Le Manifeste des Libertés, Forum de Solidarité Euro-Méditerranéen – FORSEM, Réseau Euro-Maghrébin Citoyenneté et Culture – REMCC, Union des Travailleurs Immigrés Tunisiens – UTIT, Mouvement Citoyen des Tunisiens en France – MCTF, Collectif 3 C, L’Association interculturelle de production, de diffusion, de documentation audiovisuelles – AIDDA, Association de défense  des Droits de l’Homme au Maroc – ASDHOM, Association Vérité et Justice pour Farhat Hached – AVJFH, Association Filigrane, Dynamique Citoyenne des Tunisiens à l’Etranger – DCTE,  Collectif des Femmes Tunisiennes – CTF, Arts et Cultures des Deux Rives – ACDR,  Union des Tunisiens pour une Action Citoyenne – UTAC, Association des Tunisiens du Nord de la France – ATNF , Association Na’oura ASBL – Belgique, SOS Migrants – Belgique, Comité de Vigilance pour la Démocratie en Tunisie – Bruxelles, Association des Tunisiens de Maine et Loire – Anger, Association des Tunisiens de la Sarthe – UTS, Association Tunisienne Culture et Solidarité, Association Démocratique des Tunisiens en France – ADTF, Centre Euromed Migration et Développement EMCEMO – Amsterdam, Association des Tunisiens en France  – ATF – Var, Plateforme Euro-Marocaine Migration et Développement Démocratie Citoyenneté, Association Zembra, Association des Tunisiens en France  –  ATF – Nord, Association Younga Solidaire, Association Appel Egalité, Droits Ici et Là-bas –DIEL, Association des Tunisiens en France – ATF – Bouches du Rhône, Coalition International des Sans Papiers et Migrants – CISPM, IMAGECOM, Afrique Survie Immigration – ASM, INTEGRATION 21 – Paris 19ème, Association des Tunisiens en France – ATF – 13, Union des Tunisiens de Suisse – UTS, Comitato Degli Immigrati Tunisini In Italia Italie, Plateforme Euro-Marocaine Migration développement démocratie et Citoyenneté, Réseau Maroc Euromed des ONGS Maroc, Association Culturelle Tunisienne pour l’Insertion et la Formation – ACTIF, Association Alif’s Bordeaux, Association Perspectives Nice, Association Tunisienne de Côte d’Or – ATCD, Association Ailes – femmes du Maroc, Association Tounssia Hourra, Institut de la Culture Arabe Moderne – ICAM

Texte à l’initiative du Forum des Associations des Luttes Démocratiques de l’Immigration – FALDI

By contrast we see this in Britain:

Unite Against Fascism (UAF):

NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Saturday 21 February Congress Centre, TUC, Great Russell Street, London.

Notably this:

2.00 – 3.30 Session: Je ne suis pas Charlie: incitement of hatred is not freedom of speech.

Chair: Alan Gibson NUJ; N’Della Paye (France); Azad Ali MEND; Jude Woodward UAF.

Alan Gibson, NUJ “the branch chair Alan Gibson, states: “Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons lampooning Islam, and particularly the depictions of the Prophet Mohammed, have been racist”. (More here) Gibson is a member of the Socialist Workers Party.

Jude Woodward, a member of the groupuscle Socialist Action, on Charlie Hebdo (Here) “Rather it is a populist right-wing libertarian rag, which delighted in producing the most offensive possible images to accompany its outpourings of spleen. Its targets were the marginalised, primarily Muslims but often it was sexist and homophobic too.” ” extensive version of the right to freedom of speech is limited by the other great liberal principle that individual freedom, including that of speech, can and must be curtailed by the prevention of harm to others.” “Rather than get pulled into defending Charlie Hebdo or others to publishing provocative, racist, sexist, homophobic and Islamophobic material, the correct response to the murderous assault in Paris is to come to the defence of the beleaguered Muslim community.“Je ne suis pas Charlie Hebdo, je suis Musulmane.”

Assad Ali,

We must not call Charlie Hebdo killers ‘terrorists’, says boss” (Here)

“AZAD ALI, Islamic Forum of Europe (undercover footage): Democracy, if it means that, you know, at the expense of not implementing the sharia, of course no one agrees with that.” “Mr Ali has also threatened journalists – not Parisian cartoonists, but an undercover colleague who secretly taped his “no one agrees with democracy” quote – though there is, of course, no suggestion that he has carried out the threat or any other act of violence.” (from Here).

N’della Diouf represents the very small group the Mamans Toutes égales (compare with list of immigrant associations above) who protest against educational establishments  that will not let veiled women accompany their children on school trips. We let others to judge her wisdom in being seen in this company.

I note however that she signed with members of les Indigènes de la République –   the  militant wing of post-colonial studies, who specialise in homophobic barracking of the gay writer Caroline Fourest – this appeal in 2011 after Charlie Hebdo was firebombed: Pour la défense de la liberté d’expression, contre le soutien à Charlie Hebdo !

More in this band of haters of French secularism in Medipart.

Straight to the point: Unite Against Fascism (UAF) has not a single representative of a mainstream and respected French anti-racist, anti-fascist organisation at its conference.

Instead it indulges those with a gripe against Charlie Hebdo, notably a member of the SWP, a notorious Islamist, and a representative of the groupuscule Socialist Action.

More anti-racist cartoons from Charlie  Avec Charlie, l’immigration autrement.

From the French Left, on Defending Charlie Hebdo, Pierre Rousset.

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Charlie Hebdo Rally: Generous and Open Republican Unity.

“Had the sect which was rising in Paris been a sect of mere scoffers, it is very improbable that it would have left traces of its existence in the institutions and manners of Europe.” “laughing at the Scriptures, shooting out the tongue at the sacraments, but ready to encounter principalities and powers in the cause of justice, mercy and toleration.”

Ranke’s History of the Popes. Thomas Babington Macauly. 1840

“An Englishman who professes really to like French realistic novels, really to be at home in a French modern theatre, really to experience no shock on first seeing the savage French caricatures, is making a mistake very dangerous for his own sincerity. He is admiring something he does not understand. He is reaping where he has not down, and taking up where he has not laid down; he is trying to taste the fruit when he has never toiled over the tree. He is trying to pluck the exquisite fruit of French cynicism when he has never tilled the rude but rich soil of French virtue.”

French and English. C.K.Chesterton. 1908.

In The Flying Inn (1914) G.K.Chesterton imagined a Britain in which Compulsory Temperance is introduced under Progressive Islam. A Muslim Preacher Misyra Ammon, the Prophet of the Moon, has appeared. He announces “English civilisation had been founded by the Turks; or perhaps by the Saracens after their victory in the Crusades.” Vegetarians, philanthropists, aristocratic Suffragettes, and Ethical Societies don fezzes, unite behind his Cause and the Imperial Commission for Liquor Control. Inns cannot serve alcohol without a sign. But all the signs have been abolished. Humphrey Pump and Captain Patrick Dalroy defy the order with an ambulant barrel of rum. Its location, shifts, “flies”.

Chesterton added that the League of the Red Rosette, “the formidable atheist and anarchist organisation” interrupts the new Prophet’s services. The novel approaches its end, when a “a coarse strip of red rag, possibly collected from a dust-bin” is “tied round the wooden sign-post by way of a red flag of revolution”. The ‘Turks’ are driven back.

The Flying Inn can be criticised in many respects –  not least of which is that I don’t find it very amusing. Its Edwardian racial and class stereotypes – and jokes – have not worn well. Recently another novel that imagines Islamic government in Europe has been published. I have not read Michael Houellebecq’s Soumission – a qualification that in British left terms gives me the right to talk about it for several paragraphs. It’s about a Muslim ruled France in 2022. President Ben Abbes, with the consent of his ‘centrist’ Prime Minister François Bayrou, introduces a through-going programme of Islamisation. The economy is run on “distributionist” lines, the (small) property-owning capitalism advocated by…C.K.Chesterton.

Whether the author of The Flying Inn would be charmed at this is less than certain. He would perhaps have felt more warmly towards this statement, “The real enemy of Muslims, what they loathe and fear above all, it’s Catholicism: it’s secularism, laïcité atheistic materialism.” (Soumission. Review. Christopher de Bellaigue. 7.2.15).

A Month After the Paris Murders.

Over the last month, after the slaughters at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket at the Porte de Vincennes, secularists and laïques have discovered friends, and many enemies. All are ‘appalled’ at the murders. But……laughing at the Scriptures, in this instance, by “savage caricatures”, has caused great offence. In Britain much – not all – of the left has been appalled by the “pornographic” representation of the Prophet. Many of them, as we have noted on this Blog, have become stern Instructors on the Noble Art of Satire, finding fault in the magazine’s ‘sadism’ and attacks on the apparently powerless institutions of the Mosque, the memory of the Church, and the faith of the marginalised and oppressed. Alain Badiou has even compared Charlie’s lapses of taste to Voltaire’s rudeness at the Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc.

The most persistent theme has been to call the paper racist. This is not confined to the English-speaking world, although this smear is frequent enough in certain circles here. Camille Emmanuelle, married to Charlie cartoonist, Luz, resumes the list of charges against the Weekly, “Charlie Hebdo «est devenu un journal raciste, homophobe, transphobe, sexiste et tout particulièrement islamophobe ». (Charlie Hebdo: être aimé par des cons, c’est dur, être haï par des amis, c’est pire). If it’s less common in France to say that Charlie ‘had it coming to them’ (a statement that immediately evokes…..and the people at Hyper-Cacher ?…) one can still sense that something of that spirit is there amongt the ‘leftists’ who rail against the Charlie ‘laïcards’ – god botherers.

In this context the intervention of Pierre Rousset, a veteran of the Trotskyist movement (Ligue communiste révolutionnaire, Fourth International) and the broader French left, in his article Après Charlie Hebdo et l’Hyper Cacher : penser le neuf, repenser l’ancien (11th February 2015) assumes its significance. Rousset begins his article by thanking those, (himself, and François Sabado included), who immediately expressed solidarity with Charlie. (1) He then passes to those who equally swiftly seized on the demonstrations of ‘national unity’ to fall back on their « routine » criticisms of the French state. Most importantly Rousset is concerned with those who attempt to « morally assassinate » the people who were « assassinated physically » the Charlie team.

Much of the piece is a response to another person associated with the Fourth International, Gilbert Achar, and his comments on the events. (What caused the killings? 3.2.15.) Achcar has claimed that French response was ‘what anybody would expect’ – although he adds that one should not exaggerate any parallels with the attack on the Twin Towers. Nevertheless a lot of police repression, and Islamophobia was aroused. The ‘core issue’ that emerged was the ‘condition of populations of immigrant origin inside France.’ The SOAS-based academic rejects out of hand any talk identifying Political Islam with Fascism. The responsibility for the emergence of violent jihadism lies with ‘the imperialist powers, and above all, the United States’.

While Achcar does not indulge in the ‘but…..’ analysis of the majority of Charlie’s enemies, he still lays into the weekly, “Charlie Hebdo is a blatant illustration of the left-wing arrogant secularism”.

For Rousset, on the contrary, the reaction in France was far from what “one would expect”. The great demonstration of January the 11th expressed a ‘non-exclusive solidarity’. They refused any amalgamation between Islam and terrorism. While there have been assaults on Muslims it was significant that this was decisively rejected by those saying Je Suis Charlie. Many immigrant and minority community  associations backed the post-‘attentats’ commemorations.

The Left’s Failure to Confront Fundamentalism.

The heart of Après Charlie Hebdo lies in the statement that the radical left is ill-equipped to deal with fundamentalism. In large part this is due to their own weak links with immigrant populations, or those (3rd generation) of migrant descent. But perhaps more significantly this left’s strategy is awry.

The far-left is, in Rousset’s eyes, fixated on the ‘main enemy ’ imperialism, and unable to see these political movements as forces that act in their own right. He notes that we are not dealing with unknown quantities, « Le rôle de l’islam politique au pouvoir (Egypte), puis des islamismes « radicaux » contre les révolutions populaires dans le monde arabe ont dans une large part clarifié le débat sur la nature progressiste ou non de ces courants politico-religieux. » The role of Political Islam in government (Egypt), and that of radical Islamists against the mass revolutions in the Arab world, has largely clarified the debate about their progressive nature of these political-religious currents.”

Political agents on the fringe of Islamism, the ‘sects’ that commit acts of terrorism, and the sectarian state of the Caliphate, have their own internal logic. They are the enemies of progressives – and the enemies of Muslims. The world, he notes, is not bounded by Chinese Walls: what happens ‘there’ affects us all ‘here’. We have to fight the Islamist reactionaries, and struggle against discrimination and racism, with Muslims, for a society of solidarity.

One group’s strategy is signaled out by Rousset, the British SWP. He notes their communiqué after the January massacres. It condemned the slaughter but found time to lay responsibility on Charlie Hebdo for its ‘ racist’ provocations.

This is what he has to say,

« On comprend que le SWP britannique réagit ainsi, car il lui faut effacer ses traces et faire oublier ses propres responsabilités. Il a été l’une des principales organisations de la gauche radicale à présenter la montée du fondamentalisme islamique comme l’expression d’un nouvel anti-impérialisme ; il a aussi rendu inaudible la parole des femmes qui, en Grande-Bretagne même, appelaient les milieux progressistes à les soutenir face à l’emprise fondamentaliste. »

It is understandable that the SWP reacts in this way: they had to cover their tracks, to hide their own responsibilities. The party has been one of the main organisations on the radical left to present the rise of fundamentalism as the expression of a new ‘anti-imperialism’. In this way the SWP has stifled the voices of women, who in the UK itself, have called on progressive groups to back them against the power of the fundamentalists

Defending Charlie, a Generous Republic and Secularism.

Rousset defends Charlie, without admiring every one of its cartoons, or contributors. He underlines their left-wing commitment, describing them as a slice of the left, not ‘one’ group. The accusation of racism is simply risible. The veteran Trotskyist notes that some of the cartoonists published in his own journal Rouge (Ligue Comministe Révolutionnaire). The victim, Charlie, is not ‘perfect’ he rightly says.

There are questions about who to satirise and who to not. It is right to be able to blaspheme, it’s the right of a free society based on laïcité. Whether it is worth giving such prominence to lampooning religious symbols so relentlessly remains an issue. One does not need to cede to Anglo-American cultural imperialism to become bored – even for this English admirer of French ‘savage satire’ – with 3rd Republic anti-clericalism. And yet…..there are indeed – all too visible – religious « principalities and powers » that need criticism in the name of justice.

The generous spirit of Rousset is displayed in the sorrow with which he considers the fate of those who fell in January, the individuals and their friends. There is not a shred of ‘arrogance’ in his writing. His optimism and humanity stands out in  Rousset’s endorsement of « unité républicaine » « une certaine idée généreuse de la République, d’une citoyenneté commune. » embracing those who lives in the margins, and for a fight against all the racisms (all the other forms of prejudice and discrimination, against the Rom onwards)  that exist in France, is profoundly stirring. We are far from harvesting the last crop from the  rich soil of French virtue.

(1) They observed of the 11th January demonstration, “Whatever the confusion in the minds of participants, their reaction and behaviour showed that the demonstrations were a tremendous expression of fraternal feeling. Participants chatted amongst themselves and helped one another move along amidst the crush of the masses of people who had gathered. Some scenes on the short-lived afternoons of the 10th and 11th brought back memories of the demonstrations of 1995 or even 1968, with solidarity as the dominant theme.”

“We are all Charlie” burst out as a cry of human solidarity against the murders. It captured a range of opinions. The idea of a “working-class Charlie” was even put forward – in order to link solidarity with the murdered journalists with the need to mobilize in defense of social rights. The formulation is open to debate, but the idea is a correct one in that it seeks to inject social and democratic content into the anger and sadness.

This is the groundswell from French society that has been expressed since January 7th and anti-capitalists should be part of it, engaging in dialogue with the millions of people who have been involved. These were not reactionary demonstrations. The dominant themes were not support for cross-party national unity or the law-and-order and anti-democratic measures announced by the government. Society went into action, spontaneously, and with a great deal of confusion, but in a progressive direction all the same. This is the starting point for our thinking and it’s in this framework that we must assess the problems that now confront us.”

I could not agree more – in my very bones!

Charlie Hebdo – And now what? The events, their impact and the issues at play. François Sabado, Pierre Rousset  23rd January. 2005.

Police across the Country Take a Keen Interest in Charlie Hebdo Readers.

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Subversive: Needs ‘Community Reassurance’.

This story hasn’t stopped developing:

Several British police forces have questioned newsagents in an attempt to monitor sales of a special edition of Charlie Hebdo magazine following the Paris attacks, the Guardian has learned.

Officers in Wiltshire, Wales and Cheshire have approached retailers of the magazine, it has emerged, as concerns grew about why police were attempting to trace UK-based readers of the French satirical magazine.

In at least two cases – in Wiltshire and in Presteigne, Wales – officers have requested that newsagents hand over the names of customers who bought the magazine.

“This is so ridiculous as to be almost laughable. And it would be funny if it didn’t reflect a more general worrying increase in abuse of police powers in invading privacy and stifling free speech in Britain,” said Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of free expression campaign group Index on Censorship.

“Does possessing a legally published satirical magazine make people criminal suspects now? If so, I better confess that I too have a copy of Charlie Hebdo.”

….

Five million copies of the magazine – which has a usual print run of around 60,000 – were published in a special edition, with about 2,000 of them reportedly distributed in the UK.

If you are a newsagent or reader who has experienced police contact related to Charlie Hebdo, please get in contact using the form below. Reading on mobile? Click here to complete the form.

Note: I too have a copy!

Cde Sarah AB  asks,

Why are the police so interested in Charlie Hebdo readers?

…….

These incidents have not escaped the eagle-eyes of French newshounds,

La police anglaise voulait ficher les lecteurs de «Charlie Hebdo»

Libération asks, “Acheter Charlie Hebdo est-il devenu si subversif que cela mérite d’être fiché ?”

Has buying Charlie Hebdo become so subversive that it means ending up on Police Files?

This is the rozzers’ explanation (Dyfed-Powys),

“Visits were made to newsagents who were maybe distributing the Charlie Hebdo magazine to encourage the newsagent owners to be vigilant. We can confirm the visits were only made to enhance public safety and to provide community reassurance.

We can think of more than a few people on the oh-so-British left who’d probably agree with the Police.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Protest Against Charlie Hebdo’s “uncivilised expressionists” as Police take “an interest” in those who buy our Weekly.

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The rally was organised by the Muslim Action Forum, which expressed 'deep regret' at the Paris terror attacks

“Insult Mum and I will Punch You” (Pope Francis…)

1000s of Muslims including Scholars and Spiritual Leaders shall protest outside Downing Street to denounce the uncivilised expressionists reprinting of the cartoon image of the Holy Prophet Muhammad peace be upon Him. MAF once again invites the world to the Declaration of Global Civility. The global Muslim community shall not be hijacked by coldblooded killers or uncivilised expressionists.

Muslim Action Forum. (MAF)

Hat-Tip JB.

Apparently this all part of a campaign for “global civility”.

Petition:

  • I believe that through mutual consideration and the revival of civility as a shared medium of dialogue we are better equipped to reconstructing a more enlightened society.
  •  I endorse emphatically the Declaration of Global Civility drafted by the campaigners of Global Civility
  • I call upon the British Parliament to table a debate in both Houses of Parliament to discuss the endorsement of the Declaration of Global Civility.
  •  I call upon all civilised people and institutions globally to disassociate themselves from any actions that are an affront to global civility. I denounce the actions of all those people who are connected with the production of the cartoons of the Holy Prophet Muhammad peace be upon Him and believe that these actions are an affront to the norms of civilised society.

Number of signatures: 106893

One of the key points on the Declaration of ‘global civility’ is a call to curb what people say, or ” Reckless and malicious expressions will lead to vilification and demonisation of each other and our communities. “

In other words, say something we don’t like, “an affront to the norms of civilised society”and…….

This is  one of  their ‘civil responses’ (from Facebook Page).

Be careful, be very careful, or…….

Some of Sunday’s marchers take inspiration from a (cinema advertisement) by the Prophet Alan Partridge.

Newspaper report on protest.

Thousands of British Muslims gathered near Downing Street to protest against cartoons showing the prophet Muhammad and voice opposition to “insulting” depictions.

A leaflet issued by the Muslim Action forum (MAF), who organised the rally, said recent republishing of cartoons, caricatures and depictions of Muhammad by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and other publishers is a “stark reminder” that freedom of speech is “regularly utilised to insult personalities that others consider sacred”.

The group also expressed “deep regret” at the Paris terror attacks, which included a massacre at Charlie Hebdo, saying they were a “violation of Islamic law”.

The words “Charlie and the abuse factory” and “learn some manners” were written on signs held by demonstrators. A number of speakers addressed the crowd while there were communal prayers before a delegation took a petition signed by more than 100,000 British Muslims to 10 Downing Street.

It calls for “global civility” and says the production of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad are “an affront to the norms of civilised society”.

Shaykh Tauqir Ishaq, a senior spokesman for MAF, said: “Perpetual mistakes by extremists, either by cold-blooded killers or uncivilised expressionists, cannot be the way forward for a civilised society. The peace-loving majority of people must become vociferous in promoting global civility and responsible debate. At this time of heightened tension and emotion, it is crucial that both sides show restraint to prevent further incidents of this nature occurring.”

Shaykh Noor Siddiqi, another MAF representative, said: “The actions of the UK media in not publishing the cartoons is highly appreciated by British Muslims and we hope that this kind of self-restraint and mutual respect will ultimately lead to a harmonious society.”

Across the street on Whitehall a handful of counter demonstrators holding a Britain First banner gathered.

Scotland Yard said it was not aware of any arrests during the protest.

Guardian.

More reporting in the Telegraph.

The MAF site cites ‘blasphemy law’ as a restriction on free speech.

Blasphemy Laws – seeks to restrict hateful literature being published that is “reviling”, “scurrilous” or even “ludicrous matter” relating to Christian concepts. The specifically relate to the Christian God, Jesus Christ, the Christian Bible or the Christian Book of Common Prayer.

It fails to mention this: “On May 8, 2008, the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 abolished the common-law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel in England and Wales, with effect from 8 July 2008.”

We have further questions: 

It’s strange march for “civility” that includes people who cite the Pope’s notorious statement that nobody should be allowed to “insult” the faith of others.

Religions routinely  insult other people by their claim that only one set of believers are ‘saved’.

Hitting people for saying things, “a punch in the nose” – even about our mothers – is not normally called civilised.

Even if we believe that a religion is talking about real people.

But then the MAF carries images of people carrying placards saying, “We love the prophet Muhammed more than our lives.”

Some unkind people might call that blind fanaticism.….

And…….

It would be interesting to have a full list of the “scholars” and “spiritual leaders” on this threatening demonstration.

The MAF site states that it’s backed by the “major Muslim organisations in the UK” .

Which ones?

Meanwhile the Police in Wiltshire are doing their best to keep on eye on “uncivilised expressionists” by drawing up a list of people who buy Charlie Hebdo.

Your offer of commemorative badges in support of journalistic freedom highlighting “Je suis Charlie”, prompts me to suggest a degree of caution following my experience. Tongue in cheek, I asked my helpful newsagents to obtain a copy of the edition of Charlie Hebdo issued after the dreadful massacre in Paris, if indeed a copy was ever available in north Wiltshire. To my surprise, a copy arrived last Wednesday week and although the standard of content in no way matches that of the Guardian I will cherish it. However, two days later a member of Her Majesty’s police service visited said newsagent, requesting the names of the four customers who had purchased Charlie Hebdo. So beware, your badges may attract police interest in your customers.
Anne Keat
Corsham, Wiltshire

Guardian.

Update: Police Apology.

Wiltshire police issue apology for seeking details of Charlie Hebdo readers after Paris attacks. Full story soon.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 9, 2015 at 12:04 pm

The Very Political Nudity of Golshifteh Farahani.

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La comédienne a été chassée d'Iran en 2008.

The Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, has posed nude in the irregularly published  French photography magazine, «Égoïste».

Libération has just published the picture.

This gives some background.

Exiled Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani has sent a message of defiance again to the ruling Ayatollahs in Tehran by appearing completely naked on the cover of French magazine Egoïste, French media reported on Thursday.

“France has liberated me,” the 31-year-old actress told the magazine, according to the daily 20 minutes daily newspaper.

Paris “is the only place in the world where women do not feel guilty. In the East, you are that [guilty] all the time. As soon as you feel your first sexual impulses,” she added.

The winner of Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and Best Narrative Feature at Tribeca Film Festival in 2009 was reportedly informed by Iranian authorities in 2012 that she was not welcome home anymore.

Days after the video was released an official of the supreme court of the Islamic Republic reportedly called her family in Tehran and shouted at her father, telling him, according to The Guardian, that she would be “punished, that her breasts would be cut off and presented to him on a plate.”

Her ban from returning to Iran came after she revealed her right breast in a black-and-white video with 30 other French cinema “young hopes” to promote the Césars, considered the “French Oscars.” Farahani had been nominated for her role in “Si Tu Meurs, Je Te Tue” (If You Die, I’ll Kill You). The Iranian actress has also posed nude for French magazine Madame Figaro.

“I was told by a Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guide official that Iran does not need any actors or artists. You may offer your artistic services somewhere else,” Farahani said, according UK daily The Telegraph.

Farahani is known for her role opposite American stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in “Body of Lies” and is the first Iranian woman who starred in a major Hollywood movie since the country’s 1979 revolution.

Al Arbaiya News. 

In Libération, the Iranian sociologist Chahla Chafiq, author of Islam, politique, sexe et genre (PUF) is cited.

She states” The obligation to wear a veil symbolises sexualised boundaries. It confirms in this way the body of a woman as a place upon which the community places its honour, denying the freedom and autonomy of women. Golshifteh Farahan’s act has broken that wall. “…l’obligation du voile symbolise les frontières sexuées. Il confirme par cela la conception du corps de la femme comme un lieu où s’inscrit l’honneur communautaire, niant ainsi la liberté et l’autonomie des femmes. L’acte de Golshifteh Farahan vient casser ce mur).

More from Egoïste.

Wikipedia (English): Golshifteh Farahani.