Tuesday 20 January 2015
Posted in La France at 19:37
A journalist with Le Monde and 2015 Nieman Fellow, Nabil Wakim recently wrote The Charlie Hebdo Shootings Explained to my American Friends. Don’t be turned away by the title if you’re not American – it’s well worth reading, even for French people (I count myself among them).
I’ve summarized his questions and responses, so you get an idea of what’s inside – it is a longer read, but very much worth it if you’d like to understand related issues in France.
1. Was Charlie Hebdo as popular as The Daily Show?
[…] What is Charlie Hebdo? Try to think of this weekly newspaper as a mix between South Park, Mad Magazine and The Daily Show, but with a very left-wing and anti-capitalist component. […]
2. Is Charlie Hebdo racist?
[…] It is fair to say some of Charlie’s writers and cartoonists have been obsessed with Islam since the publication of the Muhammad cartoons. Former Charlie cartoonists and writers said they were uncomfortable with the publication focusing so much on Islam. [However …] Charlie Hebdo has been struggling for years against racism, against the far-right National Front and the paper has stood alongside anti-racist organizations, social justice activists and undocumented immigrants. […]
3. Who were these Charlie guys?
[…] some of the writers and cartoonists were VERY famous in France… for other reasons. […]
4. What is Free Speech in France?
As Jon Stewart put it in The Daily Show, Free speech in France doesn’t look like free speech to a lot of Americans. I know it’s not easy to understand: Free Speech is free speech and that’s it, right? Well, no. Free speech in the U.S. is as much the product of American history as the French “Liberté d’expression” is the product of French history.
Some things are forbidden in France. […]
5. What is this French thing called Laïcité?
A lot has been said in the U.S. since the Charlie attacks about freedom of speech and freedom of religion (just an example here). The difficult thing about it: it’s hard to understand the French context without explaining the word “Laïcité”
There is no English equivalent to “Laïcité”. It’s the word we use to describe the separation between religion and state in France. It is REALLY different than in the US. […]
6. Who are the “French Jihadists”?
[…] All these guys have something else in common: they know very small [sic] about Islam or the Muslim world. They create their own version of religion in their homes or their cells, watching videos on YouTube.
They don’t necessarily come from very religious families, and they are not involved in their local religious community: there are living a personal adventure. […]
7. Is there a “Muslim community” in France?
There are between 5 and 6 million of Muslims in France. Ten percent think of themselves as a “mosque goer” on a weekly basis. But they don’t form a consistent community.
It is important to understand that Muslims in France are immigrants or sons of immigrants coming from different parts of the Muslim world: Algeria, Turkey, Mali, the Comoros, etc.
They bring with them different forms of Islam, coming from different school of thoughts and traditions. […]