February 2, 2015
French gov't uses killings
to attack free speech
BY MAGGIE TROWE
Three days after French President François Hollande held a giant march in Paris Jan. 11 in the name of defense of freedom of speech, the French government arrested 54 people for exercising that freedom, charging them with "condoning or threatening terrorism."
President Barack Obama's boycott of the march indicated differences on foreign policy between Washington and Paris. And statements by French leaders against anti-Semitic murders belie the history of Jew-hatred by that nation's rulers.
The "unity march," organized by the French government to honor French imperialism, took place days after three self-proclaimed Islamist gunmen carried out murderous assaults against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and Jewish shoppers at a kosher grocery market in Paris.
Cherif and Said Kouachi assassinated five cartoonists and eight others Jan. 7 at the magazine's office, saying they acted on behalf of al-Qaeda in Yemen seeking revenge for the honor of the Muslim Prophet Muhammed. The weekly magazine had published numerous vulgar caricatures of Muhammed, along with scatological cartoons ridiculing Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Pope and many French politicians.
Amedy Coulibaly, who said he acted on behalf of Islamic State, entered the Hyper Cacher kosher market in a Jewish district two days later and killed four shoppers and took several others hostage. He told the media he wanted to get "some Jews."
French authorities stormed the assailants later that day, killing them and freeing the hostages who remained alive.
Using laws that make "hate speech" a crime, the government arrested comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala Jan. 14 for saying on a Facebook post, "I'm feeling like Charlie Coulibaly," combining the slogan of the protests against the Charlie Hebdo murders — "I am Charlie" — with the name of the man who attacked the Jewish shoppers.
Dieudonné already faces charges of condoning terrorism for making a video mocking the decapitation of U.S. journalist James Foley by Islamic State forces in Syria last August. He could be jailed for seven years.
Some of those arrested have already been sentenced under "fast track" legislation passed in November. A 22-year-old man was jailed for a year Jan. 13 for posting a video mocking one of the police officers killed by the Islamists. A drunk driver was sentenced to four years in prison for threatening the cop who arrested him.
France "is at war with terrorism, jihadism and radical Islamism," Prime Minister Manuel Valls told the French National Assembly Jan. 13.
History of French rulers' Jew-hatred
In response to a Jan. 11 call by visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging French Jews to move to Israel, Valls said, "France without Jews is not France."
The fact is the capitalist rulers in France have a long history of Jew-hatred.
Until the French Revolution of 1789, Jews suffered severe legal restrictions. In Colmar in Alsace, a special tax was levied on all Jews and cattle. Jews were then "emancipated," but told at the time they had to give up acting as Jews and become "assimilated" as French.
In 1894 French army captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jew, was convicted amidst anti-Semitic mobilizations on frame-up treason charges of giving military secrets to the German government. The anti-Semitic newspaper La Libre Parole and many in the French government portrayed all French Jews as disloyal. After a yearslong battle, Dreyfus was pardoned in 1899 and his conviction overturned seven years later. But the French army did not admit his innocence until 1995.
After Germany occupied northern France at the outset of World War II, a pro-Nazi government, with its capital in Vichy, took power in the rest of the country. The Vichy regime forced Jews to wear the Star of David in public and rounded up and deported tens of thousands to Nazi death camps, where some 75,000 were exterminated in the Holocaust.
After the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and neighboring Arab countries, French President Charles de Gaulle denounced Jews as "an elite people, sure of themselves and domineering" and attacked "Jewish domination" of the media.
In the wake of the killings at Charlie Hebdoand of Jews in the kosher grocery, the rulers in France and Germany banned demonstrations called by anti-immigrant groups. Paris police banned a rally with the theme "Islamists out of France" called by Secular Riposte and Republican Resistance. In Dresden, Germany, police banned all public marches for 24 hours Jan. 18, stopping plans by a group calling itself Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West for a rally the next day.
Obama does not attend Paris rally
Obama decided not to attend the Jan. 11 pro-France march in Paris. A few days later he said he might have made a mistake. But his decision was not a misstep. It was an expression of foreign policy representing the interests of the majority of the U.S. propertied rulers.
The White House felt Obama's participation would have lent credence to the idea that the imperialist powers face a new challenge on the level of the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Rather than threatening an all-out war on terrorism, as Valls did in France, or military action, as former President George W. Bush did in Iraq, Washington today prefers using drones, bombings, cyberwar, and, when necessary, special forces to weaken and isolate Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Obama, joined by British Prime Minister David Cameron, told a Jan. 16 White House press conference that the U.S. would "help France seek the justice that is needed … to defeat these terrorist networks." But he cautioned Europe's rulers not to "respond with a hammer and law enforcement and military approaches to these problems."