Why I am not Charlie and do not side with France

charlie hebdo

10 January 2015 — These are the days after bereavement and grief. Emotions joined us all across the planet, in the same way as when we saw the World Trade Center crumbling down and the London’s underground or the Madrid’s train blowing up.

The executors are terrorist criminals hiding behind the name of a Prophet venerated by millions of Muslims, who openly condemn this violence and feel betrayed by the fact that the persons carrying it out cry that it is done in the Prophet’s name. For millions of Muslims this is blasphemy. That’s what the brother of one of the victims said during a press release.

Charlie 1The terrorists action is a revenge against the journalists of a satiric newspaper who offended Mohamed and the Islam. But the criminals also killed two Muslims who were in their shooting line, same as other criminals of the ISIS did, cutting the throat to innocent people who were themselves Muslims. It looks evident that Islam and Mohamed had very little to do with it. The question is certainly way more complex than these few words make it look, however what is happening is being so extensively commented by renowned scholars and rampant politicians, that I do not wish to add further words to a sea of words. I leave it to the Talk shows.

What I rather wish to say in these observations has to do with the “hallowing” of the satiric strips of Charlie Hebdo and the hailing of France as the land of freedom: two propaganda operations that have nothing to do with the death of innocent persons and the grief of their families and of the families of the criminals who were killed.

The persons and their grief do not have much interest to the characters taking turn in the media to comment, consider, evaluate and plan how to overcome the “Islamic terrorism”.

I start with the strips.

Charlie 2I was shocked by what happened to the journalists and certainly nothing can justify what occurred, but I must say that I did not like the strips the newspaper published before and I keep not liking them now.

Charlie’s strips gave me a feeling of nausea and revulsion, along with a strong annoyance, as their vulgar offence of the various religions ridiculed did not sound like freedom. What freedom?

In my book, a freedom that would not respect other people faith is not freedom. The dignity of a human being is respected also by not vulgarizing what for that person is holy, what that person entrust his life to, what gives meaning to the lives of billions of persons -- the religion, that is, or any form of belief.

The psychology of religion, studying the religious behavior and the way religious beliefs are often vital to the psycho-physical welfare of the individual, having verified the function of religion as the only way out of the abyss of illnesses and deep existential voids that would otherwise lead to suicide or addiction, in the last decades has stressed the positive function of religious forms all across the world. And it is now sure that religion is not the opium of the people nor an obsessive neurosis. It might be it, but this is not the case for the majority of people.

For a believer a serious offence, seasoned with vulgarity too, to his religion means a deep suffering that cuts like a sharp blade; it does not kill him but it stuns him. That the offence is drawn in a strip that makes other people laugh does not make things better. On the contrary, it worsens them.

Yesterday, David Brooks, columnist of the New York Times newspaper and teacher at the Yale University, wrote in his article "I am not Charlie Hebdo", that should those journalists have “tried to publish their satiric newspaper in any American university in the last two decades, they would have lasted 30 seconds. Students and faculties would have accused them of hate speeches”.

His voice is not the only one expressing disagreement. This is why I believe that one ought to consider more in depth the impact that a certain way to give information, or to satirize, has on the persons, who are, in my opinion, the most important value to safeguard – the persons and their dignity – even though one might not share their ideas or their religion.

The second remark I wish to make might look unrelated, since today everyone sides with Paris and freedom, or rather republican freedoms. Nobody today says, however, that France discriminated for decades, with laws and parliamentary commissions ad hoc, tens of spiritual and religious minorities its own citizens adhere to; French citizens who were not involved in any violence, but rather had suffered unjustified violence and slanderous campaigns, orchestrated by media and anti-cults groups sponsored by that very “libertarian” France.

Charlie 3The French Parliament produced, in 1996 and in 1999, two reports on “cults” that have been heavily criticized:

Based on such reports, and on the activities of the Mission, some French citizens lost their jobs as being members of “cults” listed in the 1996 report; the groups included in this list had been forbidden the rent of public quarters and, more generally, to perform their normal activities. The international community did not turn a blind eye to these developments: [...] prominent journalists assigned to France an unenviable sixth position (and first position amongst democratic countries) amongst the countries most criticized in the world for their violations of religious freedom. The same criticisms have been voiced many times in the yearly reports on religious freedom by the American administration, and in papers of independent international organizations for human rights (Introvigne, 29 settembre 2001).

France has compiled a list of "cults" in which included the Watchtower Society, Scientology, Opus Dei and the Soka Gakkai, but there were no reported terrorist groups led by Imam who instigate the holy war. Parliamentary reports of 1996 and 1999 stated that the "cults" are identified on the basis of their violent tendencies. However in 1996 list, which had 172 active "dangerous cults" in France, said Introvigne writing to Raymond Forni, President of the French National Assembly, there was:

not even one of several radical Islamic groups in your country, presumably not less dangerous and violent of Pentecostal churches, Buddhist and other groups has been included in the list of [...] French scholars have repeatedly explained me that the list was prepared by your security services, who have particularly good relations with the Islamic world, including its fringes more radically anti-Western and anti-American (and not so good relationships with many religious groups that operate in French territory because they consider them "Americans"). The same scholars pointed out to me that the Muslim electorate has become decisive in French elections, and perhaps they are right (Introvigne, September 29, 2001).

The libertarian France, so hailed and acclaimed these days, went further than that. On the 30th of May 2001, the Assembly voted a law that intends to solve the alleged problem of the “cults” in France, allowing them to be dissolved should their managers be found guilty of crimes and introducing the crime of “mental manipulation” or “plagiarism”. A law that is viewed as dangerous for religious freedom not only by the “cults” but also by representatives of majority religions based on Christianity, by many members of the European Council, by international ONGs and by the State Departmentof the USA.

Furthermore, the French government has been financing for over ten years a private organization with branches in over 20 European countries, the Fecris, whose controversial activities have been covered in a research by the University of Dresden required and distributed by Human Right Without Frontiers.


On top of that, a French MP, Rudy Salles, worked for over two years, at tax-payers expense, to compile a report to the European Councilthat proposes the anti-cult ideas of the Miviludes and of the Fecris, in order to obtain from the Council a recommendation to the Member States on the protection of minors “victim” of alleged “sect abuses”. In all these years, aside from approving the anti-manipulation law, probably the most anti-libertarian thing that might exist, France has been condemned many times by the CEDU, and a French representative (Salles) stated during a plenary Assembly, that the CEDU is an unreliable institution.

Only China praised the French positionon “cults”.

France is a country that has been condemned many times by the CEDU for its chronic violation of the religious freedom of French citizens; a country where a kid can be expelled from school for wearing a religious cap; where the laws on secularity do not allow to wear religious symbols in public offices but, at the same time, whole neighborhoods are controlled by terrorist groups, naked girls can run into a Catholic church and be represented on a commemorative postage stamp; where freedom of opinionis based on the Jacobin view of religion as the source of every obscurantism; a country where Mein Kampf can be nicely displayed in the bookstores, while a book written by a Scientologist cannot be put on the shelf.

In libertarian France, a Circular called “Prevention and fight against sectarian dangers”, issued by the Ministry of National Education on the 22nd of March 2012 and addressed to the educative authorities of primary and high school, states that the National Education personnel (teachers, directors, etc.) have the duty to spot all the children and families suspected of “sectarian deviations”, due to their adherence to certain religious beliefs o visions of the world, and to expose them to special units created to “collect, elaborate and evaluate alarming circumstances” (CRIP) in every French departments, or to the Public Prosecutor.

For these reasons, and for many others, I do not side with Charlie nor with France, as I already know that all that is happening in France did not teach anything and that the French first minister will continue to finance private organizations such as the Fecris and Institutions such as the Miviludes that since years go hounding groups labeled as “cults”, despite the European Council having expressly required not to use this word as its only aim is to stigmatize religious and spiritual minorities.

I do not side with France that views as dangerous peaceful religious minority communities that use alternative medicine, only as they counter the powerful pharmaceutical lobbies that influence the decisions of the French Government.

I do not side with Franceas, while stating in TV that the funds to fight armed criminal groups, apparently totally undisturbed in the country, are not sufficient Hollande continues to finance private groups and parliamentary commissions created ad hoc to fight imaginary enemies such as the “cults”, without anyone knowing what they are or how they are supposed to be different from “religions”.

If this is the libertarian France, I do not side with France.

To say that today is not politically correct, but I believe that, if we really want to honor the innocent victims and act against the criminals, whatever their color, religion and nationality, we must in the first place be honest and tell the truth, another victim constantly sacrificed on the altar of media and political propaganda that, in these days, is submerging us with empty and, particularly, “interested” words.

If the European citizens will not rebuild Europe on the fundamentals of the unalienable values and rights of the individual, manifestations and marches will be but empty and meaningless gestures, while the new racists and “anti-all-who-do-not-think-the-same-way-as-I-do” will keep rallying support, just as it happened in the past. We already know the epilogue, but it looks like we European just love repeating past mistakes, simply changing the target—yesterday the Hebrew, today the Muslim or the “cult” or anyone unwelcome to people who have more power than he does.

From: www.dimarzio.info/en/home-en-gb.html

FOB reproduces or quotes documents from the media and different sources on a number of religious issues. Unless otherwise indicated, the opinions expressed are those of the document's author(s), not of FOB or its directors.