“So long as the biggest jerk in the Taliban is unable to understand my art, I refuse to express myself – is that it?”-Stéphane Charbonnier, Charlie Hebdo editor murdered a year ago today, from Open Letter: On Blasphemy, Islamophobia, and the True Enemies of Free Expression, completed days before the massacre
“Asserting that Islam is not compatible with humor is as absurd as claiming that Islam is not compatible with democracy or secular governance.”
“Forgive me, but the fact that racists may also be Islamophobic is essentially incidental. They are racists first, and merely use Islam to target their intended victim: the foreigner or person of foreign extraction. By taking only the racist’s Islamophobia into account, we minimize the danger of his [sic] racism.”
“While, unlike the existence of God, it is difficult to deny the existence of Marx, Lenin, or Georges Marchais, it is neither blasphemous, racist, nor communistophobic to cast doubt on the validity of their writings or their speech. In France, a religion is nothing more than a collection of texts, traditions, and customs that it is perfectly legitimate to criticize. Sticking a clown nose on Marx is no more offensive or scandalous than popping the same schnoz on Muhammad.”
“In protest against the decree of July 21, 2010, which outlawed the desecration of the French flag, and against the law of March 18, 2003, which outlawed any public affront to the national anthem or the tricolor flag, in January 2011 Charlie Hebdo called on the citizenry to rise up against censorship. We asked them to ridicule, destroy, or soil the symbol of the Republic. This was an invitation not to destroy anyone’s property, but to demonstrate that a secular republic may not decide for its citizens which symbols are sacred and which are not.”
“[O]n February 18, 2014, François Hollande visited the Grand Mosque of Paris to inaugurate a memorial honoring Muslim soldiers who died for France from 1914 to 1918.
It’s perfectly natural for Muslim leaders to pay homage to Muslims killed in the First World War. But it’s absurd for a President of the Republic to pay homage to Muslims ‘who died for France’. These natives – colonized and enslaved who, for the most part, were rounded up and enlisted by force – did not die for France in their capacity as Muslims. They died in their capacity as low-cost cannon fodder. And if they did die for France, it wasn’t by choice. They died because of France; they died defending a country that had stolen their own. Hollande honored them as heroes, but they were, above all, victims. Before them, German bullets; behind them, French bayonets. Among the native colonial casualties of the Great War who are purported to have been Muslims, it would be astonishing to find even one who fought to defend the values of Islam.
Let the Republic raise a monument to the colonial peoples it led to slaughter rather than dream up Muslim fighters who died for France!”