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Editorial

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: {Charlie Hebdo} et le fanatisme des bûchers

by Patrick Apel-Muller

{Charlie Hebdo} Burnt on the Stake

Fanatic Arsonists Hit French Satiric Weekly

Translated Friday 4 November 2011, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Auto-da-fé: a sinister word which under cover of a faith-inspired action masks the fanaticism that lights up the stake. This spectre was conjured among us by the arsonists that set fire to the weekly’s offices. Were they mad visionaries, or a structured organization, provocateurs desirous of adding fuel to the fire of hatred before the elections? The investigation will say. What does remain is an intellectual debacle where words and drawings are burnt, due to the arsonists’ inability to confront them and, when all’s said and done, to resist them.

In this case, thick-headed Islamists are suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails and pirating the satiric weekly’s site to spread the motto “No God but Allah”. About ten days ago Roman Catholic fundamentalists disrupted and stopped a performance of Romeo Castelluci’s “blasphemous” play On the Concept of the Face of the Son of God; eight months after others vandalized the work by Andres Serrano exhibited in Avignon.

Those people claim to act out of respect for the sacred when they show no respect for what is most sacred, the infinite diversity of human thought and its most emancipated form, namely artistic creation, and everybody’s right not to show deference for or devotion to any religious cult whatsoever.

In a special issue entitled Charia Hebdo [1], our colleagues denounced the institution of sharia by the Libyan TNC after NATO’s bombers had cleared the way. In their own provocative and darkly ironic way, they have touched a raw nerve: freedom banned after being initially invoked. That is precisely the press’s mission at its noblest. That is also why the powers that be, whether they wear a turban or a three-piece suit, prefer it to be tamed and uniform, short of succeeding in starving it to death. It takes courage to show such insolence when the press is so short of money and in such danger of being gagged: for this Charlie Hebdo’s team must be praised.

Its talented caricaturists Charb, Luz and Jul regularly contribute to our daily l’Humanité. Our friends enriched every page of the paper’s special issue on the opening day of the 2010 Fête de l’Humanité. We are doubly hit by the arson of our friends’ boulevard Davout offices. And as Patrick Le Hyaric did yesterday in the early morning we here proclaim our active solidarity.

In these times of crisis, the ground lost by tolerance to religious fanaticism and the racist parties that grow fat on it are a threat to us all. In their crusade for massive exclusion some will threaten excommunication, others will stage pork sausage (and wine) demonstrations in our streets — an obvious insult to Muslims. Mercenaries in the war between civilizations, they dream of a return of the dark ages. Taking cover behind them, murmuring timidly at first, then clamouring insolently, political leaders will try to make the most of those tremors.

Their aim, as Jaurès put it, is “to exploit the whole gammut of the public’s emotions against democracy itself.”

[1Charia pronounced sharia in French - the first syllable sounds like the beginning of the weekly’s name in French.


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