old salut!

Colin Randall wrote here on France, things Anglo-French and more......but has moved

February 08, 2007

No offence

This site has now moved to Salut!

It is always a pleasure to talk to the listeners of BBC Radio Ulster, as I did yesterday, not least because during long years of covering the Troubles, I grew very fond of the city in which it is based.

The station called last night, wanting some thoughts on the case of the Muslim organisations that have taken the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to court for re-running the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that caused such offence when they appeared in a Danish publication.

I have no strong views on Charlie Hebdo, which I see rarely but have found by turns funny (which is fine), irreverent (ditto) and tasteless (see the view on free speech attributed to Voltaire).

There is no doubt that many decent Muslims will have been appalled to see - or, rather more likely, to learn second or third or fourth hand about - the cartoons.

One showed Mohammed perched on a cloud turning suicide bombers away from paradise with the words: "Stop, stop. We are running out of virgins."

But I am not sure how this insults any Muslims except terrorist Muslims.

If, as has been shown, some fanatics are motivated, at least in part, by the belief that dozens of virgins await them once they have blown themselves and others to smithereens, there is no reason on earth why that belief should not be ridiculed.

The French Muslim Council, and the Paris Grand Mosque, both involved directly or indirectly in the current case, are right to ask for Islam to be respected, but wrong to suppose that it should be given automatic legal protection from disrespect.

If real criminal offences are committed - incitement to murder Muslims, for example, or to burn down their mosques - then the law has ample remedies. Words and cartoons mocking Islamist psychopaths who turn to terrorism are not in the same category and should not be liable to legal sanction.

Philippe Val, Charlie Hebdo's editor, argued that the cartoons did not amount to an attack on Islam but addressed "the ideas defended by certain men who legitimise violence in the name of Islam". What is so wrong in that?

Nothing, I am belatedly pleased to add, according to the prosecution, which asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that Charlie Hebdo was not attacking Islam but terrorists who claimed to act in its name or the name of Mohammed.

After talking to Radio Ulster, I thought back to a superb Belfast satirical ensemble, the Hole in the Wall Gang, whose humour was aimed at just about everyone who made Northern Ireland what it then was.

Green or orange, or some shade in between, politicians and pundits and - yes - churchmen were all considered legitimate targets. But isn't that the point? They were legitimate targets of prose and stage routines, not the bombs and bullets that were also a feature of everyday Ulster life and death.

I am sure plenty of Roman Catholic and Protestant figures were outraged by the revue; a few, doubtless, would have liked it silenced. That is human nature; remember that line in Stoppard's Night and Day: "I'm all in favour of the free press. It's the bloody papers I can't stand."

But the Hole in the Wall Gang played on. If memory serves, they eventually found themselves mocked by others.

The court hearing the cartoons case in Paris will announce on March 15 whether it is following the prosecution's recommendation that the charges should be thrown out.

But a lot has already been made in coverage of the hearing of Nicolas Sarkozy's letter of support of Charlie Hebdo.

Though he was often enough on the receiving end of the magazine's wit, he saw such publications as acceptable if not essential components of France's commitment to freedom of expression and a secular public policy. An excess of caricature, he said, was better than an absence of it.

Other politicians followed his example today, giving evidence on the magazine's behalf.

But I liked most of all the contribution of the very first witness.

This is what he had to say:

"I urge Muslims to adapt to Europe and not the other way around."

So which ranting Man of the People had Charlie Hebdo imported from a wicked Anglo-Saxon tabloid? Alternatively, who was the appalling French racist responsible for such provocative testimony.

Step forward one of the heroes of yesterday's proceedings, a philosopher from the Paris University. His name is Abdel Wahhab Meddeb and the defence rests.

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This site has now moved to Salut!


At February 08, 2007 7:06 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

I urge the English to adapt to Europe and not the other way around."

At February 08, 2007 7:29 PM, Blogger anonyhamster said...

"Europe" in the tedious and patronising comment above is of course an acronym:

E Empty
U Untutored
R Rhetoric
O Of
P Posturing
E Expatriate

At February 08, 2007 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A and
N now
O only
Y you
H have
A a
M mouse
S saying
T things
E equally
R ridiculous

At February 08, 2007 8:22 PM, Blogger ColinB said...


At February 08, 2007 8:28 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

c censorious
o old
l lackluster
i irksome
n neurotic
b bigot

At February 08, 2007 8:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

C carrying
O on
L leaves
I insults
N not
B broadminded

At February 08, 2007 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

R ready
I in
C case
H he
A announces
R roborant
D decisions

At February 08, 2007 9:06 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Corn flake

At February 08, 2007 9:24 PM, Blogger SH said...

How sad that Richard of Orleans has used a serious, well expressed blog by CR on a very important topic simply to push his own stupid little hobbyhorse, thereby encouraging others to do likewise.I suppose that you won't feel like getting rid of them all, CR, since we're talking about the freedom of opinion and of the press.

The brave Muslim scholar's comment is very close to M. Sarkozy's own remarks the other evening when he pointed out that no one is forcing Islamists to live in France, or any western European democracy and that if they choose to do so, they must accept life there as they find it. If they would prefer to live under Sharia law, no one will object to them going off to another country where they can do so.There they will not be troubled by a free, sometimes irreverent, press.

When will these extremists learn that parading with banners demanding the death of Danish newspaper editors and others on the one hand and then proclaiming their religion as one of peace on the other does not do their cause any favours?

At February 08, 2007 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

S shouldn't
H hector

At February 08, 2007 9:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SH, you know you're a pedantic yourself.
Sometimes people enjoy a little fun together,so why take it away with your 'on the one hand' comments.
We all know Muslims have two hands,except for the unfortunates that have had their wrists removed from their arms.
So please quit ringing your hands in sorrow.

At February 08, 2007 9:47 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

My comment was perfectly serious and had a lot to do with 'practice what you preach'. I hardly see the ranting anti European anglo saxon tabloids calling on the Muslims to be European.

England wants to be part of Europe for the advantages, but does not want to adapt to the culture, just like some Muslims. In fact I have considerable more time for the Muslims, because at least their behaviour often comes from depseated religious beliefs, rather than the 'religion of exploitation'

Scots wearing false noses please stand up.

At February 08, 2007 10:02 PM, Blogger ColinB said...

What utter mindless claptrap. There is certainly French culture, German culture, British culture etc. But there is no such thing as "European culture", unless R of O means respect for certain beliefs we hold in common, like parliamentary democracy, rule of law, respect for minorities etc. But these are hardly exclusive to Europe - being values found throughout much of the Commonwealth and elsewhere.

But why are we discussing Europe ? Is this not the first time Colin R has raised the fraught issue of Islamic extremism ? Ought we not to do him the courtesy of discussing that, instead of letting R of O hijack a thread yet again to pursue his own obsessions ?

At February 08, 2007 10:22 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

"I urge Muslims to adapt to Europe and not the other way around."
That's where Europe came from and I agree with it, here here.

"I urge the English to adapt to Europe and not the other way around."

I don't apply one rule for the Muslims and another rule for us.

At February 08, 2007 10:29 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

It's a point that's been made elsewhere so I don't claim this as an original thought. But I think it's worth repeating that western visitors to middle- and far-eastern countries are constantly reminded of the need for cultural sensitivity: For example, that women should cover their heads and dress "modestly;" that you remove your shoes when you enter a mosque; that in some cultures casual physical contact is offensive. Why then should the same rules of sensitivity not be applied within western society? It needs to be a two-way street. If we respect their culture, then they must respect ours.

At February 08, 2007 10:35 PM, Blogger ColinB said...

Again, what claptrap, R of O. From an Islamic perspective, there is essentially no difference between one EU country and another. None has Islam as the state religion.

So why use this issue to drive a wedge between Britain and mainland Europe, where the political differences are primarily over attitudes towards federalism, not religion.

You are seizing on words like "Europe" as an excuse to blitz us, yet again, with your anglophobia. We know your views, repeated here ad nauseam so why not just put a sock in it, and let us focus on the issue of Islamic extremism.

At February 08, 2007 10:39 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

The Anglo Saxons have imposed fictious frontiers for their own gain.They have invaded the Middle East, are torturing people, blowing up buildings, pouring billions into client countries, totally corrupting the whole region through the exploitation of oil and bribes. Lets hope the Muslims never have the means to impose a two way street.

At February 08, 2007 10:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Colin Randall does not expect your courtesy ColinB,because you do not use courtesy on his blog.

Further to that,he has the option of delete,if he should feel the need to use it.
And in many of your posts I've wondered what's holding the man back from delete.
As you know, we here recognize obsession as a requirement to carry this blog's comments.
The sooner you confess your own obsessions,then recognizing it in others won't bother you.
The heights of

At February 08, 2007 10:53 PM, Blogger ColinB said...

What a lot of pathetic puerile twaddle, Anonymous.

Where's the decency or courtesy in your mounting a personal attack under the cover of "Anonymous" ?

You certainly have an obsession: it's expecting a 21st century blog to be conducted like a 19th century drawing room tea party. Grow up, or go away.

At February 08, 2007 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No attack ColinB. Just comments.

Pueriles know no decency/courtesy.
But they worship obsession,especially in others.

At February 08, 2007 11:08 PM, Blogger ColinB said...

There's only one person on our family of blogs who consistently fails to space the text.

And 90% of what that person writes is complete s***/scats/droppings/excreta etc
(take your pick, folks).

At February 08, 2007 11:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well folks something in that 10% is worth looking at.

At February 08, 2007 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and anyway you ColinB are master of anonymous personal attack.

At February 08, 2007 11:36 PM, Blogger ColinB said...

Not true- but even if it were, it would not excuse your present behaviour, Annymouse.

At February 08, 2007 11:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call me 10% for the sake of distinction.
The 11:26 pm anonymous is unqualified to claim all anonymous comments.

At February 08, 2007 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at this.
Never before have two posts arrived at exactly the same minute.

Up that to 20% as a bonus.

At February 08, 2007 11:42 PM, Blogger ColinB said...

Methinks this blog is sorely in need of an anonymousetrap.

All it requires is the flick of a switch, Colin Randall. Maybe then we could get back to discussing the substantive issues raised in your post.

At February 08, 2007 11:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The master of Anonymous would never be allowed to visit a mousetrap.
If there were one about,who knows where it would be set,and for whom.

At February 08, 2007 11:53 PM, Blogger ColinB said...

You may be spaced out, Annymouse, but your text isn't, notably after commas.

Or, as you would say:

You may be spaced out,Annymouse, but your text isn't,notably after commas.

At February 09, 2007 12:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

20% here.
ColinB,you are obsessing again.
Annymouse is not 20% anonymous.

Anymouse can recognise an anoyhamster.
By distinctive droppings*

At February 09, 2007 12:15 AM, Blogger ColinB said...

First, Annymouse, let me assure you that I am not "anonyhamster". Second, I stopped using aliases in 2006.

Thirdly, Annymouse, you not only fail to insert a space after a comma, you also consistently mispell anonyhamster as anoyhamster. So let's cut the "20%" crap, please. Sorry, that should have been 20%scats/droppings/excreta etc.

Anyway it's my bedtime, even if time differences allow Annymouse to blog for a few more hours.

At February 09, 2007 9:20 AM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

"Nobody in the world with access to a television can be in any doubt that the US-led invasion of Iraq four years ago has been a disaster. What they, and we, are much less aware of is that it has already produced the worst refugee crisis in the Middle East since the mass exodus of Palestinians that was part of the violent birth of the state of Israel in 1948. And what we should all be scandalised by is how little the two countries most responsible for the Iraq misadventure – the US and the UK – are doing to alleviate this crisis. "

Editorial in todays FT.

At February 09, 2007 9:42 AM, Blogger ColinB said...

Well, Annymouse can't sleep and sink those sharp little teeth in me at the same time. And R of O has retreated to his garden shed to plan surprise attack No 1043 of his rolling blitzkrieg.

Perhaps one could take advantage of this temporary lull to insert a point re that cartoon furore.

It was, of course, manufactured anger from the "We are the victims" branch of Islam. The reason for banning depictions of the Prophet in Islam was to do with maintaining discipline within the faith. Without the ban, there was the fear that pictures, icons etc would become objects of worship in their own right. One has only to go to Lourdes to see how a fixation with graven images and other assorted tat ("flashing Virgins" as my children called them) can cheapen a religion.

Moslems may disapprove strongly of seeing Mohammed depicted in Western cartoons, as we dislike hearing of anti-Semitic cartoons in Arab newspapers. But to characterise it as "blasphemy" is a tragic example of how careless talk leads to murderous rabble-rousing.

At February 09, 2007 9:49 AM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

The Middle East has never been a peaceful part of the world.
If it's residents were not invading other people,then they themselves were being invaded.
Invasion is a way of life.It carrys the DNA.

At February 09, 2007 9:57 AM, Blogger ColinB said...

OK, so Richard's out his shed sooner than expected, but there's no need for Anne Gilbert to get up in the wee small hours (Eastern time?) just to make a point.

At February 09, 2007 10:03 AM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

I wish I had the eyesight of ColinB.
He can see Richard in his woodshed and Anne in Eastern Time.

At February 09, 2007 10:19 AM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

There is quite obviously a big difference between the UK and other European states. The UK(England) is culturally the odd man out and should leave the European Union. It suits the English to minimise the differences at certain times and to maximise them at others.

There are 4 or 5 million Muslims in France who in the main contribute by their hard work and energy to this country. There are 300,000 Brits who, in the main, have profiteered from the sale of their house and impose a burden on our state services.

While I strongly regret certain aspects of the Muslim culture; anti feminism, suicide bombing etc. I recognise the appalling manner in which the exploitive and deceiving Anglo Saxons have sought to turn every Muslim into a terrorist. Naturally my sympathies go out to the 4 or 5 million fellow inhabitants of this country who suffer from the biased propaganda machine of the Anglo Saxons.

At February 09, 2007 10:29 AM, Blogger ColinB said...

Control to Bombardier Richard

Bombs wide of target (again!).
Return to base immediately.
Cancel plans for future missions.

At February 09, 2007 10:31 AM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Well,there you have it.An opinion from the woodshed that confirms my statement of Muslim invasion.
4 to 5 million Muslims in France?

This is an imbalance of DNA.as I see it.
As Fate will have I suppose,it's only a matter of time (Eastern Time) that my descendents will be Arabs.

At February 09, 2007 10:35 AM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

To those who are interested, I have updated the original posting to mention the prosecution's request (news of which reached me quite late last night) that the case be dismissed. I will return briefly to the subject later.

At February 09, 2007 10:38 AM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Judging from the facile comments of our profiteering Anglo Saxon I scored a direct hit.

Anne, we all come from Africa anyway. We have millions of people of Spanish origin who were occupied by the Muslims for 500 years and have considerable consanguinity with the North Africans. We are much closer to North Africa than the Northern Isles.

At February 09, 2007 10:55 AM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

If I may knock on the woodshed door,to suggest that none of us ever know the truth (truth being a comfortable cushion to sit on).

The more I learn,the more I accept I don't know anything.
Old fossil that I am,you understand.

At February 09, 2007 11:14 AM, Blogger SH said...

Once again the Anglosaxon of Orleans (sua culpa) needs to do some reading before he comes forth with such distorted ideas. I would recommend a book such as "Kiffe kiffe demain" which will give him a truer picture of the life of the majority of North African immigrants in France. While the Harkis may have been settled for many years and are now able to "work and contribute" to the French economy, there are enormous problems for more recent arrivals. This is why there was the wave of vehicle burning in parts of several cities and also why LePen has so much support from French people who object to state handouts to recent immigrants.

He should also read the article and interview by Mary Anne Sieghart in today's Times. A brave Muslim lady in Birmingham is telling it like it is in her community.

At February 09, 2007 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the coments seem to be a private conversation, am a little wary of pointing out that the reason Muslims are offended by the cartoons, is not that they are terrorists, but that Islam proscribes pictorial representations of Mohammed, Xtianity on the other hand is full of icons, false or otherwise.

At February 09, 2007 11:17 AM, Blogger Louise said...

It would seem, Colin R, that the rodents are too busy scrapping to comment on your post; mind you this often happens when you write about something 'serious' - I think you overestimate our general IQ, so we all descend to bickering level.

I think that this cartoon lark has been blown out of all proportion - as we seem to be moving in a 'hugging' society (bunny huggers, tree huggers, hoody huggers) we have also moved into the muslim hugger mode, and must not, in the name of PC, do anything to upset them. The vast majority of Muslims are totally normal and ordinary people and I think they know that these cartoons were aimed at the minority of extremists - it was probably this extremist faction that used the cartoons to stir up the violence that resulted in their publication. What a pity that the 'ordinary Muslim in the street' didn't think about this a little further...and therefore avoid this farcical trial which will, of course, just stir things up YET again.

At February 09, 2007 11:30 AM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Very good. SH seems to think everyone of those 4 to 5 million muslims we have in France is a car burner (maybe he excludes a few tens of thousands of Harkis)

Who of course blows things out of all proportion? None other than the Bush.Blairs of axis of evil renown. All because a small section of extreme Arabs had the (mis)fortune that their attack on Anglo Saxons of high net worth was succesful beyond their dreams.

At February 09, 2007 11:32 AM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Well,the Vulgarian horn from the Alps has blown it's chords,to say that "the vast majority of Muslims are totally normal people"etc.
Now we have an authority on the subject with us.
But scrapping rodents?

At February 09, 2007 11:52 AM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Well SH I read your Sieghart article in the Times. I'm not sure what point you want to make. That multiculturism is not the right solution? That governments should stand firm on the coercion of Muslim girls (into wearing veils for exemple)?

At February 09, 2007 12:40 PM, Blogger ColinB said...

A final word before this property tycoon returns to DIY on his crumbling 18th century tenement. The work would have started a long time ago, but for the need to get cooperation from three copropriétaires...

Like all Brits I have benefitted from house price inflation - once I succeeded in getting that difficult first foot on the ladder. That was back in the late 70s, about the time of the Winter of Discontent, when Britain was being written off as an economic basket case.

I would imagine that it was about that time that a certain 19 year old Anglo-Saxon set off to France in search of a new life. Imagine his gall at finding years later that in pure economic terms he had jumped ship too soon. Is that what drives his rabid anglophobia ? Envy ? Chagrin ? That he missed out on 30 years of UK house price inflation ?

Never mind the downside of all of that - today's youngsters forced to pay absurdly high rent, yet unable to put together a deposit, or even qualify for a mortgage, without parental help.

Through taking an aggressive stance here with the Beast of Orléans, I believe I have unwittingly uncovered the true source of his gall. It's the (French) economy, stupid.

Richard of Orléans must be spitting blood at seeing his fellow Anglo-Saxons moving in on what he thought was his private preserve, flush with funds from selling or letting in the UK.

At February 09, 2007 1:48 PM, Blogger anonyhamster said...

I'm sure you are right , Colinb, but you mustn't delay our "con". He has to dash off to "horsewhip on the steps of his club" the editor of the local newspaper, La République, for daring to print a large headline and full details of France's record balance of payments deficit in 2006.

It's sad that Richard d'Orléans does not appear to contribute to the blogs on his local paper, although perhaps he is hiding behind the nom de plume of "Simplet", which would be appropriate.

At February 09, 2007 6:36 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

1)Trade balance 12 months bn $
2)Current account 12 months bn $
3)% GDP

Britain -152.2 -69.7 -2.8
France -36.1 -43 -1.1
Euro -15.7 -31.4 -0.1

Warning. These statistics are published by the Economist. It is current practice in the UK for statistics to either be inaccurate or manipulated.
In order to translate into euros check the latest rate. $ is subject to rapid devaluation.


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