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Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Hebdo

Jeremy Corbyn Defended our Beloved Charlie.

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JEREMY CORBYN (Parliamentary site). 

EDM 670: Defence of Journalist and Freedom of Expression

Filed under: Early Day Motions (EDM), civil liberties

That this House expresses its heartfelt sympathy to the families of those journalists, police and others who were assassinated or injured at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on 7 January 2015; notes that this attack took place on press day, thereby increasing the casualty list and the potential damage to press freedom; considers that the perpetrators of this heinous crime must swiftly be brought to justice; further notes the bravery of individuals who work in this field despite many of them coming under attack previously, and that in carrying out their jobs they uphold the invaluable and historical right to free speech and freedom of expression which are both integral elements of democracies; acknowledges the solidarity that is being shown around the world on behalf of the victims and their colleagues in standing together in defence of civil liberties at this time; and offers its support to the NUJ in the UK and the International Federation of Journalists for their work in defending the rights of all journalists to do their job without fear of threats, intimidation and brutal murder.

More details: DEFENCE OF JOURNALISTS AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

The British Left’s Hypocritical Embrace of Islamism: a Reply to Maajid Nawaz.

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The British Left’s Hypocritical Embrace of Islamism.

Maajid Nawaz writes, in the Daily Beast,

The desire to impose religion over society is otherwise known as theocracy. Being veterans of the struggle to push back against fundamentalist Christians, American liberals are well acquainted with the pitfalls of the neoconservative flirtation with the religious-right. How ironic, then, that in Europe it is those on the left—led by the Guardian—who flirt with religious theocrats. For in the UK, our theocrats are brown, from minority communities, and are overwhelmingly Muslim.

Stop: if Nawaz considers that the Guardian is representative of the ‘left’ then there is a problem here. The paper officially backed the Liberal Democrats an election ago, – his party – not even going far enough to the left to support Labour.

True there are plenty of columnists for the Guardian (and exceptions, does he ever read Polly Toynbee?) like Reverend Giles Fraser, who have a soft spot for Islamism and spend their time wittering away about “shared identities” and linking Islamist “radicalism” with a fight against injustice.. Some, like Seumas Milne (who has stronger  claims to be on the left),  think that the struggle for progressive principles runs so far ‘within’ Islamism that he could back the right-wing Ennahda  party in Tunisia for its apparent calls for ‘social justice’ against left-wing secularist parties.

The Guardian also opened its pages to writers who loathed Charlie Hebdo, and French secularism, at the time of the Islamist attack on the Weekly, and the murder of Jewish customers at Hyper- Casher.

Seumas Milne denounced Charlie for repeated pornographic humiliation.” of the Prophet. Fraser felt the pain of “a beleaguered, economically fragile Muslim community”.

While condemning the killings with a sentence or two,  they immediately went out of their way to understand the ‘anger’ of people at seeing rude cartoons about their religion.

These people, and they include would apparently set up a list of rules and regulation to govern what is satire and what is not. It should, we heard endlessly, only attack the ‘powerful’. That, according to Will Self, we should drop the “sexual fetish” of defending the right of people to express themselves freely.

It was no doubt no coincidence that Respect’s MP,  George Galloway was particularly keen on a set of regulations to keep in check people’s tendency to make fun of others.

For those who came up with their hare-brained idea we can only guess that at their public schools they  had read Juvenal’s line

…difficile est saturam non scribere. nam quis iniquaetam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se

It is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself.

Yup, injustice, that’s all satire should be about.

But one doubts if their ‘rules’ can fit Viz magazine’s idea of satire:

https://40.media.tumblr.com/d8b147fa7dbc341d3a74323a6295a52b/tumblr_ndpet99xRw1r7pphso1_500.jpg

https://i2.wp.com/i762.photobucket.com/albums/xx262/SteveStrummerGB/Viz.png

I jest.

On the left there were others who stood with those who would regulate free speech to suit the demands of ‘Muslims’, and some (like a former supporter of your party Nawaz, the Liberal Democrat voting, Tariq Ali, as well as more obvious sources, like the Socialist Workers Party) who essentially claimed that Charlie “had it coming”.

But there were plenty of left-wing people, and organisations who stood with the martyrs of Charlie.

Groups like the Alliance for Workers Liberty, the paper, the Weekly Worker, and, more importantly countless Facebook friends, democratic socialists, social democrats, liberals and believers in human rights – hundreds of thousands of left-wing and liberal people in this country wept at the murders of our beloved comrades at Charlie and the Jewish victims of the anti-Semite killers  and stood up against Islamist violence when it counted.

Your write,

There is a natural fear among Europe’s left, that challenging Islamist extremism can only aid Europe’s far-right. But the alternative to this fear must not be to instead empower theocratic fascism. There is a way to both challenge those who want to impose islam, and those who wish to ban Islam. It has not escaped me, nor other liberal Muslims, that while challenging Islamist extremism we must remain attentive to protecting our civil liberties. We are born of this struggle, after all.

Some of us are born of this struggle as it echoed in the United Kingdom. and across the world:

The Real Origins of Secularism.

Secularism, in the form of laïcité, was the product of the 19th, not the 18th century. As Georges Weill explained (Histoire de l’idée laïque en France au XXe siècle. 1929, new edition, 2004) it was during the 1840s that the idea that administration and government of the country should be free from any religious power, emerged. Edgar Quinet ( 1803 – 1875) was one of the first to advocate a “une séparation complète radicale” of religious institutions from the State (Page 147 – 149)

Quinet’s emphasis on the idea of secular education, “l’école laïque ” was to be at the centre of all the subsequent fights for laïcité. Jules Ferry, who created the basis for a republican education system liberated from the –Catholic Church –, was only able to begin to realise this ideal after the Second Empire, under clerical domination, had fallen. The Third Republic (founded 1875) was rocked by divisions on the issue. It was only in 1905 that France saw a real separation of Church and State (with numerous exceptions, notably concerning private Catholic education, which continued, with subsidies).

Weill indicates that far from being the result of a violent hostility to religion French secularism originates in four sources. The first came from ‘Galician’ Catholics who opposed the ultramontagne power of the Pope over their own affairs, and, as the century progressed from Catholics who became attached to republican ideals. The second was amongst liberal Protestants, who had obvious (and blood-stained) reasons to distrust the power of the official Church. A third were desists, who wanted religion, illuminated by science, to be free from the doctrinal control of Papal Curia.

Only in the fourth category, the “libres penseurs”, can we find those with some debt to Hébert. The early workers’ movement owed a debt to Christian belief, particularly to Lamenais’ Paroles d’un croyant (1834), which rooted Christianity in democracy and social causes (in many respects more advanced than British ‘Christian socialism’ and still worth reading). But as the century progressed anti-clericalism spread amongst the socialists as well as amongst those who would become the so-called ‘Radical Socialist’ party (the word ‘radical’ comes from the British ‘radicals’ like John Stuart Mill). Many of the popular classes simply abandoned religion. 

For myself this is one part of the socialist heritage: the ‘synthesis’ between democratic Marxism and universal human rights for which  one of our greatest martyrs, Jean Jaurès, was assassinated.

Note that many secularists are ‘believers’.

Secularism is freedom to believe….

At a time when our comrades are again being slaughtered in Bangladesh for the crime of criticising  Islam and Islamists in the shape of the genocidal Daesh movement are attacking minorities, enslaving, and as you say…..

Will you join with this movement?

Back the Kurdish fighters, and the brace voices for secularism and freedom in every country – in many cases people deeply rooted in the Left?

The choice is for everybody.

Charlie Hebdo. Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists. Charb. Review Article.

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 Posthumous Bolt of Light.

Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists. Charb. Les Échappés. 2015.

“This text was completed on the 5th of January 2015, two days before the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo, during which Charb lost his life.”

The Lettre addresses the reader, “If you think that criticism of religions is the expression of racism” “If you think that ‘Islam’ is the name of a people.” “If you think that punishing blasphemers will open the gates of heaven for you.” “If you think that left-wing atheists play into the hands of fascists and xenophobes” “If you think that it is essential to classify citizens according to their religion” “If you think that one can laugh at everything except whatever is sacred to you.” “If you think that popularising the concept of Islamophobia is the best way of defending Islam” ………..

“So, dear reader, this letter has been written for you”

Charb (Stephane Charbonnier) would not learn of the response of those he spoke to on the first pages of the Lettre. He was absent after those seeking paradise murdered him, eleven of his colleagues at Charlie Hebdo, a police officer and four customers of the Vincennes Hyper-Cacher.

In France, and across the world, millions expressed their solidarity and love for Charlie and all the victims of the atrocities. But there remained those who responded according to the 19 ready-made ideas about Islam Charb listed. Liberals and those claiming to stand on the left, marked by every single one of them, were prominent amongst those who contributed to a torrent of abuse whose echoes still resonate.

Mark Maguire, on the Stop the War Coalition’s site, stated that Charlie was “a rather unpleasant French magazine” that published “anti-Islamic cartoons”. Others pitched in. It was ‘Zionist’ and ‘neo-conservative’, with the imprint of former Editor Phillipe Val who is said to have promoted these views. It was – it would be an easy task to cite thousands of articles – ‘Islamophobic’. It was vulgar and racist. It specialised in the pornographic mocking of sacred beliefs, above all of Muslims.

The Weekly, as the Socialist Workers Party template set out, was known for its “provocative and racist attacks on Islam”. Norman Finkelstein tried to create an industry out of this holocaust. He declared that the paper was not satire but “sadism” and compared it to the anti-Semitic Nazi Der Stürmer. An apparently anti-racist alliance, Unite Against Fascism (UAF), held a special session at their AGM on why “je ne suis pas Charlie.”

This hostility has not died down. ‘Rules’ for satirists appeared – which Charlie had apparently broken. It should have targeted the “powerful.” Will Self judged that satire ought to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted”. Literary critics, enforcing these new Aristotlean unities of satirical style – breached no doubt by Rabelais, Hogath’s drawings, and the plebeian Viz comic, not to mention early Soviet anti-religious propaganda – have tried to establish their decree. (1) We could call it ‘satirical realism’. Even cartoonists joined the would-be Zhdanovs of correct caricature. As have authors. Read the rest of this entry »

Jennifer Cody Epstein admits was wrong to oppose Charlie Hebdo Award: We expose one basis of anti-Charlie Hatred.

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Luz: New Album, Catharsis, on January Murders: On reste toujours avec toi Charlie!

<i>Catharsis</i>, la bande dessinée post-traumatique de Luz.

The Guardian Reports.

The American novelist Jennifer Cody Epstein has said that she “fundamentally misunderstood Charlie Hebdo’s mission and content” when she put her name to a letter condemning PEN’s decision to honour the magazine with an award.

…….

She now believes that Charlie Hebdo’s “controversial images – while arguably tasteless, offensive and not even particularly well-drawn – sprang from satire, not hate”.

“It is a profound and crucial difference: if one is to argue for freedom of speech there can be no caveats, no asterisks, no fine print qualifying that ‘freedom’ only applies to expression we don’t consider too upsetting, or doesn’t enrage right-wing fundamentalists with guns,” her letter reads.

She adds that she was “also under the misassumption that Hebdo disproportionately lampooned Islam”, and points to an article by Michael Moynihan in the Daily Beast, in which he highlights the fact that Charlie Hebdo has had more anti-Christian covers – 21 – than anti-Islam – seven – in the last 10 years.

It is worth reflecting on the words of those who oppose Charlie Hebdo root and branch:

Charlie Hebdo: Where Neocons, Zionists, Masons and Communists Converge

While pontificating about “free speech”, criticism of Israel was not tolerated, and any manifestation of the Nationalist Right was regarded as requiring state repression. Charlie Hebdo advocates the “liberalism” of the Jacobins, the argument of the guillotine, figuratively, if not literally. They try to titillate the “educated” classes of France with an illustration of Jesus sodomising God,[4] and other such puerilities on a weekly basis.

Never did they campaign in favor of genuine “heretics”, such as those who questioned the Holocaust, who are heavily repressed in France. Never did they respond to the cause of the continuously vilified, constantly prosecuted, and physically beaten Dr. Robert Faurisson. The former professor of literature at the University of Lyon, removed for his heresy, whose questioning on the matter of the gas chambers at least had the support of socialist-libertarian Serge Thion in France and in the USA of Dr. Noam Chomsky, on the basis of free enquiry.[5] But Chomsky is a rare breed of Leftist intellectual. Most of the CH types the world over believe in free speech only as far as it aligns with their own dogmas. CH served as a mouthpiece for the ideology of the world system in a convergence of Grand Orient politicized Freemasonry, economic liberalism, Jacobinism, Zionism, and Marxism. It is this type of convergence, during the Cold War, under CIA auspices, from which the neocons emerged. A similar process has resulted in parts of the French Left taking a neocon course, Islamophobic, in the name of “universal values,” to the point of supporting U.S. (and Israeli) policies. They are like the Trotskyite luminaries during the Cold War, including Trotsky’s widow, Sedova, Max Schachtman, et al, who ended up being avid champions of the USA.

Any resemblance between the above and the below is pure coincidence.

Sadly Charlie Hebdo had been drifting away from its roots in the revolutionary events of France 1968 for some time. In the aftermath of 9/11 its output became blatantly Islamophobic and increasingly Zionist.

Tim SandersSocialist Workers Party, Socialist Review.

 

Tikkun.

Some key players at Charlie Hebdo were part of the ‘Street Fighting Years’ of 1968. What do you have to say about the way they evo­­lved?

Tariq Ali.

They evolved sharply to the right, like French society as a whole. A friend of mine recently wrote: “…did I ever tell you that Cabu gave me my first job when I was still at the lycee? For five months I was at Le Canard Enchaine; that was in the late ‘80s…. Then he relaunched Charlie Hebdo and I joined him for a while, but I never felt at ease with this team and I broke off with them during the war in Yugoslavia (obviously Charlie was in favour of the NATO intervention) and I moved to London…. Then by the late ‘90s Charlie became definitely a right-wing fanzine, always trying to please the establishment and in favour of ALL the colonial wars

George Galloway: Religious Communalism in Action.

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Best for Bradford-page-006

These are, apparently,  GALLOWAY’S 6 DEMANDS FOR BRADFORD WEST.

Look hard and you will not discover any distinctively socialist politics.

Tower Hamlets schools have been transformed by Blair-Brown and Cameron.

Pleading for government offices to be transferred to Bradford, well….

Car Insurance? Bride Price?

Of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 135 have reconsidered Palestine (something we too support) – and you can bet that not many are socialist either.

He also stands for this:

 

View image on Twitter

 

Ah yes, this was his speech about Charlie Hebdo at the infamous ‘Rally of Hate’:

 

we will not allow this Charlie Hebdo magazine to be described as a king of loveable, anarchic, fun book of cartoons.

“These are not cartoons, these are not depictions of the Prophet, these are pornographic, obscene insults to the Prophet and by extension, 1.7billion human beings on this earth and there are limits.

“There are limits. There limits to free speech and free expression especially in France.”

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Latest from Bradford (Independent)

..many confess to also being impressed by the Labour candidate’s candour. Riza, a mother-of-two leaving a grocery store emblazoned with Respect posters, said: “I think she was brave to stand up like that. It can be difficult to be an Asian woman and I think it shows a strength of character. She’s up against a lot of men – and I don’t just mean the guy on those posters.”

Mr Galloway suggests he is on track for victory with a potential tally of 15,000 votes, though the bookies say the result is likely to be close with the fedora-wearing Respect leader a narrow favourite ahead of Ms Shah.

In the event of defeat, Mr Galloway has hinted he may consider turning his sights on London and running as mayor. In the meantime, his fierce gaze remains firmly on Bradford West, where he has raised the issue of curbing the taxi app Uber as part of his pitch.

This the style, this is the man, beyond parody.

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World Press Freedom Day Sees List of Honour Back Charlie Hebdo as 145 Writers Join List of Shame.

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The List of Honour of those who Back Charlie and Freedom.

Not in our name: World Press Freedom Day 116 days after Charlie Hebdo.

On World Press Freedom Day, 116 days after the attack at the office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 11 dead and 12 wounded, we, the undersigned, reaffirm our commitment to defending the right to freedom of expression, even when that right is being used to express views that we and others may find difficult, or even offensive.

The Charlie Hebdo attack – a horrific reminder of the violence many journalists around the world face daily in the course of their work – provoked a series of worrying reactions across the globe.

In January, the office of the German daily Hamburger Morgenpost was firebombed following the paper’s publishing of several Charlie Hebdo images. In Turkey, journalists reported receiving death threats following their re-publishing of images taken from Charlie Hebdo. In February, a gunman apparently inspired by the attack in Paris, opened fire at a free expression event in Copenhagen; his target was a controversial Swedish cartoonist who had depicted the prophet Muhammad in his drawings.

But many of the most disturbing reactions – and the most serious threats to freedom of expression – have come from governments.

A Turkish court blocked web pages that had carried images of Charlie Hebdo’s front cover; Russia’s communications watchdog warned six media outlets that publishing religious-themed cartoons “could be viewed as a violation of the laws on mass media and extremism”; Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi empowered the prime minister to ban any foreign publication deemed offensive to religion; the editor of the Kenyan newspaper The Star was summoned by the government’s media council, asked to explain his “unprofessional conduct” in publishing images of Charlie Hebdo, and his newspaper had to issue a public apology; Senegal banned Charlie Hebdo and other publications that re-printed its images; in India, Mumbai police used laws covering threats to public order and offensive content to block access to websites carrying Charlie Hebdo images. This list is far from exhaustive.

Perhaps the most long-reaching threats to freedom of expression have come from governments ostensibly motivated by security concerns. Following the attack on Charlie Hebdo, 11 interior ministers from European Union countries, including France, Britain and Germany, issued a statement in which they called on internet service providers to identify and remove online content “that aims to incite hatred and terror”. In the UK, despite the already gross intrusion of the British intelligence services into private data, Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that the country should go a step further and ban internet services that did not give the government the ability to monitor all encrypted chats and calls.

This kind of governmental response is chilling because a particularly insidious threat to our right to free expression is self-censorship. In order to fully exercise the right to freedom of expression, individuals must be able to communicate without fear of intrusion by the state. Under international law, the right to freedom of expression also protects speech that some may find shocking, offensive or disturbing. Importantly, the right to freedom of expression means that those who feel offended also have the right to challenge others through free debate and open discussion, or through peaceful protest.

On World Press Freedom Day, we, the undersigned, call on all governments to;

  • Uphold their international obligations to protect the rights of freedom of expression and information for all, especially journalists, writers, artists and human rights defenders to publish, write and speak freely.
  • Promote a safe and enabling environment for those who exercise their right to freedom of expression, especially for journalists, artists and human rights defenders to perform their work without interference.
  • Combat impunity for threats and violations aimed at journalists and others threatened for exercising their right to freedom of expression and ensure impartial, speedy, thorough, independent and effective investigations that bring masterminds behind attacks on journalists to justice, and ensure victims and their families have speedy access to appropriate remedies.
  • Repeal legislation which restricts the right to legitimate freedom of expression, especially such as vague and overbroad national security, sedition, blasphemy and criminal defamation laws and other legislation used to imprison, harass and silence journalists and others exercising free expression
  • Promote voluntary self-regulation mechanisms, completely independent of governments, for print media
  • Ensure that the respect of human rights is at the heart of communication surveillance policy. Laws and legal standards governing communication surveillance must therefore be updated, strengthened and brought under legislative and judicial control. Any interference can only be justified if it is clearly defined by law, pursues a legitimate aim and is strictly necessary to the aim pursued.

PEN International
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Africa Freedom of Information Centre
Albanian Media Institute
Article19
Association of European Journalists
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Belarusian PEN
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Centre for Independent Journalism – Malaysia
Danish PEN
Derechos Digitales
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
English PEN
Ethical Journalism Initiative
Finnish PEN
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Fundamedios – Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Globe International Center
Guardian News Media Limited
Icelandic PEN
Index on Censorship
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
International Federation of Journalists
International Press Institute
International Publishers Association
Malawi PEN
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
Media Watch
Mexico PEN
Norwegian PEN
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión – OLA
Pacific Islands News Association
PEN Afrikaans
PEN American Center
PEN Catalan
PEN Lithuania
PEN Quebec
Russian PEN
San Miguel Allende PEN
PEN South Africa
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
Swedish PEN
Turkish PEN
Wales PEN Cymru
West African Journalists Association
World Press Freedom Committee.

Good on all who back this letter.

Vous serez honoré(e)s parmi toutes les Nations. 

Partisans de la ligne de Charlie, Moblisez-Vous!

Here is the declaration of Shame.

Junot Díaz, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Eric Bogosian and Michael Cunningham are among the 145 writers who have signed a letter protesting PEN American Center’s decision to award its “freedom of expression courage” award to the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, because the award seems to endorse drawings of the prophet Muhammad and other images that “must be seen as being intended to cause further humiliation and suffering” among France’s embattled Muslims.

“It is clear and inarguable that the murder of a dozen people in the Charlie Hebdo offices is sickening and tragic,” the letter states, referring to the attack by Islamic extremists in Paris in January. “What is neither clear nor inarguable is the decision to confer an award for courageous freedom of expression on Charlie Hebdo or what criteria exactly were used to make that decision.”

By honoring Charlie Hebdo, the letter said, “PEN is not simply conveying support for freedom of expression but also valorizing selectively offensive material: material that intensifies the anti-Islamic, anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.”

New York Times.

I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list…..

More Smears Against Charlie Hebdo.

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Eloge du blasphème

Partisans de la ligne de Charlie: mobilisez-vous!

The continuing attack on Charlie Hebdo

Patrick Murphy

Workers Liberty.

On Sunday 26 April I saw a Facebook posting which carried the pithy comment “anyone still Charlie”? The posting shared a story from “OurAfricaBlog” about an allegedly outrageous cartoon which, the blog claimed, appeared in the French satirical magazine whose leading staff members were brutally murdered by religious fascists earlier this year.

The cartoon dealt with the horrific drowning of migrants in the Mediterranean the previous week. It featured roughly-drawn black figures falling to the bottom of the ocean under the headline “Regroupement Familial En Mediterranee”. The blog translated this as “Family reunion in the Mediterranean”, described the cartoon as “Charlie Hebdo ridiculing the African migrants who drowned whilst on the way to Europe” and finished their commentary on the item as “speechless”.

This Facebook status was from an SWP member. After a bit of research it became obvious that this link was being shared widely on social media and that most people were responding with the full range of outrage, moralism and, most of all, demands that those who had shown solidarity with the French publication apologise, recant and accept the claim that CH is a racist publication.

There are two problems with this story. And they are the same problems that dogged all attempts to smear Charlie Hebdo immediately after the murders at their offices.

Problem number one: the story isn’t true.

Charlie Hebdo didn’t publish the cartoon. It was drawn by a cartoonist called Ali Dilem and published in an Algerian paper called Liberté. There is a link, in that Ali Dilem had recently been appointed to work for CH. (Note by Andrew Coates:  here is the cartoon, it is indeed by a more than well-known Algerian cartoonist).

Problem number two: the cartoon is an attack on a racist immigration policy introduced by the French government.

“Regroupement Familial” is a policy for non-EU residents in France being joined by other family members from abroad. This requires an 18 month initial stay (12 for Algerians) before they can come and be given formal status.

The point being made by the cartoonist is that this policy has contributed to the Mediterranean disaster and there is likely to be more such tragedies if the policy is not overturned. This, the satirist’s argument goes, is what “regroupement familial” really means. Whether people agree that satire and cartoons can properly deal with an issue of this gravity and misery, the purpose of this particular example was very plainly anti-racist and for more open borders.

Another aspect of this latest attempt to whip up a scandal was the lack of any attempt to examine the context, to investigate what the magazine’s attitude to the Mediterranean tragedy was.

It wouldn’t have taken much effort. Last week’s edition of Charlie Hebdo carried a full front page cartoon of a crowded boat called Titanic sinking with a female figurehead singing Celine Dion’s song from the movie of the same name. The figurehead looks very much to me like Marine Le Pen. The headline is “Une Titanic Par Semaine” (A Titanic Every Week). The message is that the racist attitudes toward refugees promoted by the likes of Le Pen will lead to more deaths at sea.

The determination of much of the British left to smear Charlie Hebdo, months after the murderous attack on their office can seem incomprehensible at times. The persistence and desperation has all the appearance of an especially odd obsession. We should resist that conclusion though. It is nothing of the sort.

The attack by religious fascists on journalists and cartoonists who dared publish material they find offensive really was an affront to humanity and to liberty.

Political questions don’t get any easier than “how should we respond to this”? Socialists, democrats, anyone with a shred of humanitarianism owed these victims a basic duty of solidarity. That didn’t have to mean enthusiasm for everything (or indeed anything) they published or necessarily declaring that “we are all Charlie”. But it did mean understanding that were clear sides here, there was a barricade, and there was only one side we could possibly be on.

Instead a far-too-large portion of the British left at best ducked the issue and at worst took the wrong side. Attempts to change the argument and portray Charlie Hebdo as racist before the victims were even buried were shameful and indefensible but they were also widespread. These attempts failed and discredited all those who took part in them.

But the persistence of the attack on the magazine is not an odd obsession and nor is it incomprehensible. Rather it is the inevitable product of a political and moral collapse on sections of the left. Until CH can be proven to be what its enemies say it is, until the smears can be made to stick, those that failed to show it any solidarity cannot recover the ground they lost after the attacks. They don’t deserve to.

A socialist politics that equivocates on issues like free speech and fascism is worthless and can play no role in the liberation of the working class.

Meanwhile Emmanuel Todd, whose most recent political incarnation (there are too many to count) was to support François Hollande, on the basis of a “hollandisme révolutionnaire” has decided the take up arms against Charlie Hebdo.

Emmanuel Todd : “Le 11 janvier a été une imposture.

His main charge is the demonstrations in support of Charlie were a sign of “false consciousness”. That Charlie has attacked the weakest people in society (les gens les plus faibles de la société), and, apparently, many of the marchers came from the “least republican regions of France”.

While he admits that anti-Semitism is a problem in the French banlieues, Todd considered that the actions of a few mentally ill individuals should not mean that the whole Muslim population should be shunned – as the Jews were in the 1930s.

That is indeed true.

But there is no reason to sneer at Charlie.

The reasons are simple: Charlie is anti-racist, anti-discrimination and against the very people who would tread underfoot any oppressed minority whatsoever.

This morning on France-Inter the gay feminist secularist Caroline Fourest defended, against Todd (and one assumes, the notorious “dégonflé(e)s” authors who protested against PEN’s decision to honour the beloved martyers of Charlie),  the ‘right to blaspheme’.

(Hear this on the radio station: Caroline Fourest : “Défions-nous de ceux qui utilisent l’islam pour diviser et asservir”)

She pointed out simply that (1) Charlie attacked the most powerful people in France, from the President to the Front National. (2) Islamists, from Boko Haram and Daesh onwards, were not the “weakest”, but oppressors of the powerless and frail.

As the marchers: it was a magnificent display of social solidarity – something a ‘republican’ like Todd should welcome.

On the wider issue of Charlie’s right to poke fun at religion Fourest has just published this: Eloge du blasphème.

More on her views: Caroline Fourest : Le combat pour la laïcité passe aussi par le droit au blasphème