For the mainstream media 2015 started with the attack, in Paris, on satirical magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo‘ on Wednesday 7th January. This video shows two attackers leaving the Charlie Hebdo offices after murdering 12 journalists and being confronted by a police car:
The attackers were revealed to be Said and Cherif Kouachi after Said left his identity card in the getaway vehicle:
On Friday 9th January there was another terrorist attack, this time on a Paris kosher grocery store by a lone gunman identified as Amedy Coulibaly:
A second hostage situation was underway in France on Friday as a gunman linked to the killing of a policewoman a day earlier took five hostages at a grocery in eastern Paris.
Shooting was heard and one person reported wounded at the kosher grocery in the eastern suburb of Porte de Vincennes early on Friday afternoon.
As armed police rushed to the scene, a separate hostage situation involving the Charlie Hebdo magazine attack suspects Cherif and Said Kouachi was still ongoing near to Charles de Gaulle airport, around 30 miles northeast of Paris.
The Vincennes hostage taker, reported to be Amedy Coulibaly, was carrying two Kalashnikovs. Women and children were reportedly among the hostages.
Le Monde newspaper reported that the shooter was thought to be the same man who killed policewoman Clarissa Jean-Philippe in the Montrouge area of southern Paris on Thursday morning.
Source: The Telegraph.
Coulibaly held several people hostage in the grocery surrounded by police while at the same time in an industrial estate outside Paris the Kouachi brothers were reported to be holding a worker hostage at a print supplies firm. Both sieges came to an end with police storming the locations and killing the three gunmen:
The police are currently looking for Coulibaly’s partner, a young woman called Hayat Boumeddiene, who may be implicated in the killing of the policewoman on Thursday. She is reported to have fled to Syria.
Beyond the facts about what happened the attack on Charlie Hebdo has been seen as an attack by Islamic fundamentalism against the principle of free speech with many across the world asserting ‘Je suis Charlie’. Some however have urged caution against seeing this as evidence a ‘clash of civilisations’ There is no ‘clash of civilisations’, rather, as this cartoon suggests, civilisation is endangered by the kind of clash that some politicians (Netanyahu most obviously) seem to want:
There are six million Muslims in France; this outrage was committed by a handful of terrorists. Also there exists no absolute right to free speech in France or elsewhere as this 2006 article about a rap artist prosecuted for lyrics ‘offending public decency’ proves:
Monsieur R is facing three years in prison or a €75,000 (£51,000) fine after an MP from the ruling UMP party launched legal action against him over his current album ‘Politikment Incorrekt’, reports The Guardian.
In the video for the song ‘FranSSe’, Monsieur R, whose real name is Richard Makela, appears dressed as a gendarme with two naked women rubbing against the French flag as he rapped: “France is a bitch, don’t forget to fuck her till she’s exhausted/You have to treat her like a slut, man.” At another point in the song, he sang: “I piss on Napoleon and on General de Gaulle.”
MP Daniel Mach proposed a law making it a criminal offence to insult the dignity of France and the French state upon hearing the album. He has since taken action against Makela, 30, for making and disseminating “violent and pornographic messages” to which minors could get access.
Read more at http://www.nme.com/news/Monsieur-R/23193#1ezskwHyhbZsRyGH.99
Over the past few days I have made a number of comments on Facebook about the incidents and the response to them. The embed feature allows me to reproduce those posts here.
I commented on the question of freedom of speech in a Facebook post on Saturday:
I also responded to Cynthia McKinney’s ‘Je suis Donbass’ post saying: “Donbass is on the front line resisting the Nazis, the Syrian people are resisting the Takfiris, aware Americans are resisting corporatism and the police state, news trickles out about the massacre of thousands of Nigerians by Boko Haram, their local Takfiris, the Palestinians face repeated genocidal campaigns perpetrated by their Israeli oppressors and Netanyahu joins the leaders of Europe in subverting the people’s will to Unity to justify their goals of increasing control. Excuse my French (really) but … je ne suis pas Charlie, je suis Donbass, je suis Syria, je suis Ferguson, je suis Nigeria, je suis Palestine, nous sommes les misérables du monde.”:
I was pleased that got a response from Cynthia, whose work I greatly admire. I was pleased too that Cynthia recognised the importance of Donbass and also likes the Saker blog which has some very pertinent comments on the French situation:
Maybe there are now enough people across the world who are ceasing to be brainwashed by the spectacle, and are unplugging from the Matrix (which some see as its metaphorical representation).