Thursday, January 15, 2015


By Mansor Puteh

I first visited Paris in January, 1981 and the second time in June, 2013. I had fond memories of the city I visited the first time.

Paris has not changed the second time I saw it again recently with the Eiffel Tower still standing proudly and can be seen from all over the city.

The only start difference that I could see is the sight of the many colored people especially Arabs and Muslims from African countries that had been colonized by France earlier, who are now there, especially at the Eiffel Tower and the train station, Gard du Nord which was where I had put up in a hotel at.

There are even stores operated by the Arabs, and all of them speak good French other than Arabic and some English.   

So it must be highly insensitive for the people at Charlie Hebdo not to be aware of this and act accordingly. France today is not like it was before when France still held power forcefully on many countries in Africa and Asia, which they had to leave one by one.

Charlie Hebdo may still be clinging onto the memories of Old France and had not realized that not only France that had changed but the whole world too.

Maybe they are aghast at such development and were insisting that they were right in exerting their Frenchness, whatever that means…creating a tiny enclave within the confines of their office building.   

And not so far away from it are the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo weekly satirical magazine, where some action happened on 7 January, 2015. 

Isn’t the attack on Charlie Hebdo another form of ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression’ too?

But the voice of the majority was drowned because they were not insistent compared to those who thought they were doing all of France, Europe and America a service by insisting on having the freedom of speech and expression; because their constitutions say so.

Unfortunately, the French, Europeans and Americans are putting what their constitutions say to the extreme. They did not care about being moderate in dealing with such matters.

Yet, on the other front, they demand everybody to practice moderation and not extremism. 

I am sure the majority of the French, Europeans and Americans did not support total and unfettered Freedom of Speech and Expression…

The attacks that had happened in the Arab countries hardly get any coverage in the media in the west, yet, the ones that had happened in Sydney in December last year and in Paris in January this year, got a lot of that.

Arab lives are cheap; theirs depended on the charity of the provocateurs in Europe and America using firearms that are all manufactured in the west. 

The dead Arabs and especially Palestinians are ‘collateral damage’.  

Charlie Hebdo thought they were doing the whole of France and the western world a service by chiding the religious beliefs of others, by habitually coming up with highly provocative illustrations of characters which many more others hold dear.

They were hailed as the doyen for the freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in the French Constitution and very much in the other countries in Europe and the west and especially America.

But they did not realize that the acts that they receive at their own end is and can also be taken to mean that their beliefs can be taken to the other extreme with them now facing the brunt of their beliefs.

Charlie Hebdo is now world famous, when in the past or few days earlier they were an unknown weekly magazine.

But alas, with their newfound fame, this magazine may not rise again; four of their cartoonists and their editor had been killed by some unknown men all dressed in black. They are the true ‘Men in Black’ who are unlike those in an early Hollywood film with this title.

It will take a while for the French authorities to finally nab the attackers.

But in the meantime, the debate on the Freedom of speech and expression can be held, so that whatever comes out of this can serve everybody better, that these freedoms can be misused and abused.

France has learnt too late and tragically how such freedoms do not mean anything since it is such a useless concept.

This is prove that the French mentality and intellectualism as much as those of their counterparts in Europe and America are of similar levels.

Does the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science (AMPAS) allow anyone they invite for the Oscar Night to dress simply?

No. They have to wear formal clothes with the men in tuxedos and the women in gowns.

Can anyone wear shorts to the Oscar Night? No way.

Can anyone visit the White House wearing pajamas? No way.

Can anyone in America spout the four-letter word on television, in film and on the radio as well as put it in print in newspapers and magazines? No way.

This proves that there is still some limits that the French and Europeans and Americans have that does not allow them to fully and entirely uphold their so-called Freedom of Speech and Expression.

This may be a misnomer and myth at the same time.

Are Americans allowed to publicly say ‘NEGRO’ or ‘NIGGER’? Do the Americans now call the Japanese – JAPS! like they liked to do before?

The cartoonists and editors must have taken the gamble with their lives with some of them even saying how they would defend ‘freedom of speech and expression’ with their lives.

On 7 January, they became martyrs of their own cause including their editor and some other staff of their magazine who were all gunned down by some unknown assailants.

The supporters and French government too must be blame for this. 

No comments: