22 October 2020

A murder in Paris

Last Friday Samuel Paty, a French middle-school teacher, was murdered in a suburb of Paris.  He is the latest victim of religious bigotry and hate and of the fanatics' determination to impose their ridiculous and barbaric taboos on entire societies.

A few days earlier, Paty had been teaching a regular class on freedom of expression as part of the standard French school curriculum.  As part of the class he showed his students two of the now-famous Muhammad cartoons which were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005 and reprinted in Charlie Hebdo in 2015, leading to murderous violence by Islamist thugs in both cases.  The Muslim father of one student complained to the school and on Facebook.  A local mosque posted a video on the internet containing threats against Paty.  Finally, last Friday, a Muslim fanatic murdered him outside the gates of the school and sawed his head off with a knife.

If there is any positive side to this sickening story, it's the vigor with which French society and the French leadership have responded, upholding the values of free expression and secularism.  Thousands turned out at rallies in cities across the country in honor of Paty and in defiance of the Islamists.  President Macron posthumously awarded Paty the L├ęgion d'honneur, describing him as "the face of the Republic" and those involved in his murder as "cowards" and "barbarians".  The government has closed down the mosque which posted threats against Paty, and has arrested about a dozen people, including students who identified him to the murderer (the murderer himself was shot and killed by police minutes after he killed Paty).

Most Muslims in Europe are assimilating into mainstream European culture and becoming more secular, but there remains a minority of true believers who are Europe's nearest equivalent of the bigoted, dominionist fundamentalist Christians of the US.  Their numbers in Europe are too small to hope for political power, but they are more willing to resort to violence to terrorize people who don't kowtow to their taboos.  And don't forget that the same mentality holds sway, to varying degrees, over the vast belt of territory from Pakistan to Morocco, using force and fear to impose medieval rules and restrictions on hundreds of millions of people, growing numbers of whom are themselves secular and even non-religious but know all too well how dangerous it is to speak or act in ways that the devout bigots and thugs might disapprove.

This is war.  Freedom of expression, an essential part of democracy and the free way of life, is under threat, and all of us must be ready to stand up for it as the French are doing, without any "but, however, on the other hand" or any compromise with the apologists for murder and terror.  Anyone who uses violence to suppress a dissenting opinion is evil, and anyone who tries to justify or legitimize doing so is evil.  And that's all they are.


Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

This is so sad. Religious bigotry is a danger to society. I remember the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. Those images of 'the prophet' should be published. I remember I posted them on Tumblr when I had one and I reported all the bigots. They were empty accounts, of course.
Such a sad story.


22 October, 2020 06:10  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

"...all of us must be ready to stand up for it as the French are doing, without any "but, however, on the other hand" or any compromise with the apologists for murder and terror."

I wish I were more hopeful, but with the US Senate ready to confirm a religious cultist who was on the board of directors of a religious school that barred children of same sex couples from attending -- this happening in America in the 21st century -- because of a religious prohibition that demonizes natural love between human beings. This woman will have a long, long lifetime of making decisions, informed by her radical religious views, as a Supreme Court justice.

With Barrett's confirmation, there will be 6 Catholic Supremes, and all of them, except Sotomayor, are far right Catholics.

I remember when JFK was elected the pearl-clutching in this country over the possibility that Kennedy would defer to the Pope as the first Catholic president. Kennedy had to make a special appeal to the country to dispell those fears. Now look where we are!

The Pope, just this week, declared that same-sex couples deserve civil unions. The Pope! And this country is set to place in a lifetime's position a Supreme Court justice who belongs to a cult that denied children a place in school because of who their parents love.

That's why, today, I'm not very hopeful.

22 October, 2020 06:46  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: Yes, it's tragic. Paty really understood free expression and taught it, as the publishers of Charlie Hebdo did, each in their own way. At least he's being properly honored for it.

Shaw: And this is why I said "all of us". Theocratic threats to free expression, and to freedom generally, exist here as well as in France and the Middle East. We too may be called upon to fight back -- and it may not be cost-free or risk-free.

Most immediately, once Biden and the new congressional majorities are in, we need to be ready to put pressure on them to expand the Supreme Court. Moscow Mitch's flagrant hijacking cannot stand.

22 October, 2020 06:58  
Blogger JACKIESUE said...

if there was no religions...there would be less deaths around the world for centuries..

22 October, 2020 10:29  
Blogger Mike said...

It's a wonder the right-wing Muslim nut jobs don't just start killing women indiscriminately for not wearing burkas. It makes about as much sense as the cartoon craziness.

22 October, 2020 11:26  
Blogger Kay said...

I'm agreeing with Shaw. This present administration is taking us backwards in time instead of into a more enlightened future of acceptance. People must vote for our children's future when science is important, acceptance of other different belief systems are standard, the environment is protected and health care is available for all.

22 October, 2020 14:38  
Anonymous NickM said...

Well, I'm right of y'all. Kind of. I'm just not soically-right - I'm somewhere between liberal left and libertian. Some of my best friends are gay or lesbian - some of those are also Catholic. I think the Pope's recent comments are epic. Not because I could have said that 30 years ago but because The Pope said it. The leader of over a billion Christians. It kinda pulls the rug from under the evangelicals doesn't it? Yeah, I know they think he's the Devil in Rome but he's still the religious leader with the largest parish and that matters.

I am a Quaker Warden. The Quakers actively campaigned for gay and lesbian marriage in the UK. They were not the only religious group to do this. Various Methodists, Jews and general non-conformists did as well. We won. We haven't had a gay or lesbian marriage at the meeting house yet but that's just because we haven't had a couple wanting to wed. In principle we could. And BTW I (and my wife) put on a both very affordable and very cool show. If you want an affordable marriage in East Cheshire in beautiful C17th surroundings...

OK, that was the blag...

But I think the principle matters. It drags church support from hating gays. It takes out a support rung from those that are bigots. That matters a lot.

So fair play to Pope Francis. Possibly the finest Argentinian since Jorge Luis Borges. For obvious reasons, being English, I am not including footballers.

23 October, 2020 00:16  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

JackieSue: A lot less.

Mike: In some parts of the Middle East, women are indeed attacked for dressing "inappropriately". And I've heard of harassment happening in parts of Berlin that are heavily Muslim.

Kay: Well, people do seem to be turning out to do that.

Nick: Francis is still the head of a global criminal enterprise with an established policy of shielding child molesters and intimidating victims, a policy in which he himself may have been personally complicit earlier in his career. He hasn't done anything about the Church's uncompromising hostility to abortion and contraception, which do enormous harm. He's collaborating with the fascist Chinese regime's persecution of Chinese Catholics. I'm not inclined to give him much credit for finally accepting civil unions at a time when most of the Western world has accepted full marriage equality for years.

23 October, 2020 02:36  

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