France: Deadly attack on satirical paper Charlie Hebdo

Defend freedom of speech! Don’t let us be divided!

Translation of statement/leaflet distributed by Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France) on massive demonstrations in Paris, Rouen and elsewhere.

Text in French on website of Gauche Revolutionnaire here

The attack on the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo by heavily armed men and the murder of 12 people in the paper’s premises this Wednesday is a tragic event. We firmly condemn this cowardly and barbaric act.

Such brilliant cartoonists as Wolinski, Charb’, Tignous or Cabus, fought on many occasions against intolerance, racism and censorship. We are revolted at their being shot by racist and intolerant lunatics. Likewise, many ordinary workers were killed.

By targeting this left satirical paper, these Muslim fundamentalist reactionaries (according to the latest news) have pretended to react to the attacks Muslims have suffered in France. It is not true! Although we did not agree on some issues with Charlie Hebdo, such as their choice to publish caricatures of Mahomet, that we found not very funny or useful, we strongly defend the fullest freedom of speech and opinion. We know this right is readily attacked by the ruling classes.

Muslims in France will in no way feel relieved by this act; on the contrary. They are more often the ones to suffer the dire consequences, in the streets, as has been the case whenever a blind and reactionary act takes place. These terrorists who pretend to be defending a “religion” are no better than islamophobic reactionaries; they are actually walking hand in hand to promote and develop intolerance and obscurantism. This odious and cowardly deed reinforces reactionaries of all stripes who want to divide workers and youth on a religious or sectarian basis.

This attack will serve the interests of the ruling classes and the capitalists. Thus Hollande, Sarkozy or Le Pen can pretend to be defending our liberties although they are the ones cracking down on our struggles, scapegoating foreigners and destroying our rights.

An even stronger islamophobic mood is being maintained. Because of this, some Muslims in France feel under attack, and rightly so. We denounce all forms of racism, islamophobia, anti-Semitism and sexism. We fight for solidarity, brotherhood, and tolerance worldwide. Nothing to do with those fanatics who think they are avengers.

This terrorist attack is worth a million to all the racists and reactionaries, as it will enable the state to enforce a “Vigipirate plan” (putting military troops in the streets and restricting freedom of movement) as well as more arbitrary ethnic profiling mainly aimed at people from Northern Africa.

We will not participate in so-called “republican” demonstrations with the right and the far right to denounce this attack. Islamophobic intellectuals, right wing politicians, policies of war in Africa and the Middle East, and social decline that benefits the rich and the capitalists here, waged by the government, all create a reactionary and racist atmosphere.

No form of national unity can be made with those who are trying to surf on a wave of racism and xenophobia. On the contrary, in this atmosphere, a clear and independent voice of the workers must be heard. Unions, workers’ organisations, associations, must call for rallies to commemorate Charlie Hebdo’s victims on their own terms:

For workers’, youth and the majority of French people’s unity regardless of their origin or religion; defend freedom of speech, against all reactionaries and fanatical terrorists, against racist and imperialist policies from French governments, which intensify sectarian division, intolerance and obscurantism.

A united and massive mobilisation is needed against racism and against all the policies which drive millions of people into a precarious existence! This is the basis on which we participate in supporting Charlie Hebdo’s journalists and workers.

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January 2015