Why We Are Opposed to the Terrorist Attacks and the “Je Suis Charlie” Movement in France
by ROSE BROWN, Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA
On January 7, 2015, in Paris, alleged Islamic fundamentalists connected to al Qaeda carried out a terrorist attack on the French satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, resulting in the killing of 11 people and the injuring of an additional 11. We are opposed to such terrorist killings which discourage and undermine principled criticism, debate and the fight for the proletarian truth. Two days later, on January 9, terrorist Amedy Coulibaly (reported to be an ISIS operative) attacked people in a Kosher food market in Paris, murdered 4 Jewish hostages and held 15 others during a siege in which he demanded that the Kouachi brothers who allegedly were responsible for the Charlie Hebdo killings not be harmed. We strongly condemn the attack on the Kosher market and the anti-Semitism at the root of this random attack as well as the anti-Semitism that was generated throughout much of Europe in its aftermath.
However, we do not support the chauvinistic attacks against Muslim people carried out by Charlie Hebdo for years through their ridiculing of the Islamic religion. Their attack on Islam and on Islamic people in France carried out in the name of “free speech” has played a role in mobilizing the majority French people against the oppressed and exploited Muslim sector of French society and in keeping Muslim and non-Muslim French workers divided in the face of the growing exploitation of all French workers in the period of continued capitalist economic crisis in Europe.
French President Francois Hollande, just as U.S. President George Bush after the 9-11 terrorist attack in the USA, has used this attack on Charlie Hebdo to rally the French population behind French and European imperialism in the name of “national unity” “against terrorism.” On January 11, 2015, two million people in Paris and 3.7 million across France rallied behind 40 world imperialist leaders and their cohorts proclaiming “Je suis Charlie”! Objectively, this was a powerful ,chauvinistic demonstration against all Islamic people and in support of French imperialism.
On January 13, France’s parliament voted overwhelmingly (488-1) to extend French airstrikes on Iraq, a Muslim country, in the name of the U.S. imperialist-led fight against ISIS. What’s more, French President Hollande stated that the January 7 terrorist attack “justifies the presence of our aircraft carrier” (the Charles de Gaulle) in the Persian Gulf collaborating with U.S. imperialism in air attacks on Iraq and extending them to Syria.
The truth is that the French imperialists, along with U.S. imperialism, are among the biggest terrorists in the world today. The French imperialists were responsible for the deaths of one and a half million Algerian people in the 1950’s and 1960’s in their effort to maintain Algeria’s colonial status. Recently, the French imperialists joined with U.S. imperialism to launch an unprovoked war on Libya in 2011, killing tens of thousands of Libyans, destroying the infrastructure and homes of millions of African people, including half a million immigrant workers, who had enjoyed the best education, health care and employment opportunities on the African continent under the Gadhafi government. In January 2013, the French imperialists sent combat troops to wage war on the people of Mali with logistical support from U.S. imperialism. In September 2014, France started bombing attacks on Iraq, a Muslim country, supposedly directed against ISIS.
The Nation, a left-liberal social democratic U.S. magazine, published an article entitled “To Be (Charlie) or Not to Be (Charlie)?’ in its February 23, 2015 issue. Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud concluded this article by saying, “I am Charlie … I love freedom and I’ll stand up for it …” But those who truly love freedom and desire to stand up for it, would not “be” Charlie Hebdo; they would oppose U.S.-led imperialism, including French imperialism, not support them!