Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wide of the mark

This piece by exiled Frenchman Olivier Tonneau is perhaps the best I've read in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack. Tonneau argues eloquently that the terrorists were utterly illogical in targeting a publication that savaged all religions equally and, moreover, championed minority rights and fought against racism. The real problem, he suggests, is that France hasn't honoured its founding principles with regard to large numbers of people, who have become increasingly disenfranchised and angry: "Equality is meaningless in times of austerity. Liberty is but hypocrisy when elements of the French population are being routinely discriminated against. But fraternity is lost when religion trumps politics as the structuring principle of a society. Charlie Hebdo promoted equality, liberty and fraternity – it was part of the solution, not the problem."

In addition to publishing this edited version of Tonneau's original article, the Guardian also surveyed the state of satire in Muslim countries. It's revealed that, although poking fun at authority figures can be a very risky business, there are still plenty of people sufficiently courageous to take that risk.

On a related note, there's a certain irony in photoshopping the women out of the photo of the great and the good assembled to march in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and in support of freedom of expression more generally...

(Thanks to Adam for the first link.)

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