Mission Civilisatrice and "Muslim Rage” in the Motherland
As Muslims around the world protest their contemptuous treatment by the West, catalyzed by the provocative, racist American film Innocence of Muslims, the French media added fuel to the fire of by publishing offensive cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. Left-wing alt-weekly Charlie Hebdo ran cartoons that depicted a naked, turbaned Muhammad in profoundly racist and offensive ways. To make matters worse, French interior minister Manuel Valls announced that demonstrations against Islamophobia would be officially banned and that "any incitement to hatred must be fought with the greatest firmness.”
In Paris, 150 protestors (out of 250) were arrested after a peaceful protest at the US embassy—and on Friday, protest permits were withheld as Valls warned that police would be on alert to break up any unauthorized protests by force.
The French government denounced the cartoons as "irresponsible,” and European Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve lectured that "when you are free, in a country like ours, you always have to measure the impact of your words.”
In practice, though, it appears that "measuring one’s words” applies more to Kate Middleton’s topless photos than to racist bigotry. A French judge issued an injunction against further publication of the Middleton photos in the interest of decency, while no such consideration was given to the decency of publishing openly racist imagery. Such blatantly disparate choices in the same week expose a colonial mindset: while royalty should be treated as, for the lack of a better word, royalty, ex–colonial subjects (most French Muslims are from former French colonies) may be denigrated with impunity and their right to protest and exercise free speech may be curtailed.
French Muslims have had much to protest; the cartoons are only the tip of the iceberg. They are treated as second-class citizens in a variety of ways, and in recent years angry protests by French Muslims and their left-wing allies have demanded decent living conditions in the working-class banlieuesvas well as labor rights for undocumented workers. Recently demonstrations in Gennevilliersvraised the injustice of the firing of four Muslim workers for fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. (continue reading...)