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16 shocking examples of #FreeSpeech double standards

Freedom of Speech in France: For the Powerful, By the Powerful, With the Powerful

Let us leave aside what occurs closer to home where allied British and American Troops are repeatedly bombing and killing Al-Jazeera journalists. Let us look past the locking up of Moazzam Begg for exposing British collaboration with the Syrian regime in torture, or even Edward Snowden and Julian Assange‘s ‘freedom of speech’. It remains very obvious for those informed that freedom of speech does not exist anywhere in the world if it does not suit the ruling paradigm or ideology.

France’s (and the West’s) claim that free expression is a ‘fundamental principle’ is a myth, an opiate of the masses, explicitly invoked for anti-Semitic purposes in the years leading up to the holocaust, and has recently been used to whip up hatred of immigrants, ethnic minorities and Muslims. As everywhere else in the ‘Free World’, in France, free expression is for some but not others:

1. A French court injunction banned a Jesus based clothing advert mimicking Da Vinci’s Last Supper. The display was ruled “a gratuitous and aggressive act of intrusion on people’s innermost beliefs”, by the French judge.[1]

2. In 2005 ‘Aides Haute-Garonne’ organized an informative evening about the prevention of the HIV-AIDS. The prospectus contained a head-and-shoulders image of a woman wearing a nun’s bonnet and two pink condoms. On the grounds that the prospectus insulted a group because of its religion, a court convicted Aides Haute-Garonne.

3. In 1994 Le quotidien de Paris published the article L’obscurité de l’erreur by journalist, sociologist, and historian Paul Giniewski. The article criticises the Pope, and states that Catholic doctrine abetted the conception and the realisation of Auschwitz. A court upheld proceedings on the ground that the article was an insult to a group because of its religion, and convicted the newspaper.

4. ‘Charlie Hebdo Magazine’ itself censored, apologised and then fired longtime cartoonist Siné for a caricature insulting the son of former president Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, while staunchly standing on their ‘right’ to repeatedly troll Muslims, minorities and immigrants e.g. by showing a caricature of a stereotypical Arab whom they imply to be the Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) naked and bending over – which tells you something about the brand of satire they practice and that they would rather be aiming downward than upward.[2]

5. Dieudonné M’Bala a French comedian and satirist – was convicted and fined in France for describing Holocaust remembrance as “memorial pornography”.[3]

Reactions to Charlie Hebdo

The Charlie Hebdo shootings have provoked a storm of sensationalist reactions from opportunists across the spectrum. At Islam21c we have been working hard to sift through the rhetoric and find reasoned analysis from all quarters – links are available below to read. Don’t forget to like, comment and share! To keep up with the latest articles on Islam21c.com subscribe to our mailing list here

We also direct your attention to the seminal report written by Prof. Arun Kundnani since empirically-refuted connections are being made left, right and centre, between these shootings and the shooters’ incidental ideology – read the ground-breaking report that shows that Extremism does NOT cause terrorismA Decade Lost; Rethinking Radicalisation and Extremism

a decade lost

Also read:

charlie hebdo banner

Visit our dedicated page to #CharlieHebdo with all our hand-picked content here

6. The ‘Quennele’ hand sign has been described as anti-establishment and anti-zionist by French youth and famous football players (e.g. Anelka). It stoked serious controversy in France since first being used by anti-establishment comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala in 2005.  M’Bala has been barred from many theatres and convicted many times for his ‘freedom of speech.'[4]

7. As part of “internal security” enactments passed in 2003, it is an offense to insult the national flag or anthem, with a penalty of a maximum 9,000 euro or up to six months’ imprisonment. Restrictions on “offending the dignity of the republic”, on the other hand, include “insulting” anyone who serves the public.

8. French Rap Star Facing Prison for Insulting the French State, insulting Napoleon and Charles de Gaulle.[5] It is illegal to insult the French state and it seems historical characters like Napoleon and Charles De Gaulle are sacred. But Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), the leading light and ideal of divine justice for 1.5 billion people is open to criticism?

9. Nicolas Sarkozy, then-Interior Minister and former President of the Republic until 2012, ordered the firing of the director of Paris Match — because he had published photos of Cécilia Sarkozy (his wife) with another man in New York.

10. In 2006, rapper ‘Joestarr’ had his rap song against President Sarkozy censored.[6]

11. The following films have been censored in France for provoking violence:
L’Essayeuse (1976) Romance (1999) Le Mur (2011)

12. Under France’s “Public Health Code” passed on the 31 December 1970, “positive presentation of drugs” and the “incitement to their consumption” stipulates five years in prison and fines of up to €76,000. Newspapers such as Libération, Charlie Hebdo and associations, political parties, and various publications criticising the current drug laws and advocating drug reform in France have been repeatedly hit with heavy fines based on this law.[7]

13. Muslim women are barred from education (No, not just by the Taliban) in France, if they practise their religion by wearing a headscarf, despite French schools having no policy on uniforms, neither are crosses on necklaces allowed.

14. “France’s law against “religious symbols in public spaces” is specifically enforced to target Muslim women who choose to wear hijab—ironic considering we are now touting Charlie Hebdo as a symbol of France’s staunch commitment to civil liberties.”[8]

15. It is illegal in France to take the opinion of the Turkish side on the then civil war involving Armenians. It is illegal to deny that the killing of Armenians by Turkish troops was a deliberate genocide.

16. In 2007, a tribunal in Lyon sentenced Bruno Gollnisch and fined him €5,000 for the offense of contesting some of the information about the Holocaust and ordered him to pay €55,000 euros in damages to the plaintiffs and to pay for the judgment to be published in the newspapers that originally printed his remarks.

British Freedom of Speech Evangelicals seem to be silent when it comes to the freedom of speech of Muslims: 

“So for example, when a Muslim decided to burn a poppy on the streets of London – an act which physically harmed nobody – they demanded the individual responsible be prosecuted (he was) and remained noticeably silent about the death threats directed towards him as a result of his exercising his right to free speech and expression. Similarly when a group of Muslims held a peaceful – if vocal – protest against British military returnees from Afghanistan it seems that suddenly the “right to offend” was no longer sacrosanct.”[9]

Just to be clear about what the Charlie Hebdo magazine was about, I would like to quote some left-wing, liberal, socialist, atheist folks, because I am sure if an Islamist said the below he would end up on a list somewhere under the British Stasi ‘PREVENT’ spying and thought police programme:

Charlie Hebdo has facilitated the growth of a form of politicized anti-Muslim sentiment that bears a disturbing resemblance to the politicized anti-Semitism that emerged as a mass movement in France in the 1890s.

In its use of crude and vulgar caricatures that purvey a sinister and stereotyped image of Muslims, Charlie Hebdo recalls the cheap racist publications that played a significant role in fostering the anti-Semitic agitation that swept France during the famous Dreyfus Affair, which erupted in 1894 after a Jewish officer was accused and falsely convicted of espionage on behalf of Germany. In whipping up popular hatred of Jews, La Libre Parole [“Free Speech”], published by the infamous Edoard Adolfe Drumont, made highly effective use of cartoons that employed the familiar anti-Semitic devices. The caricatures served to inflame public opinion, inciting mobs against Dreyfus and his defenders, such as Emile Zola, the great novelist and author of J’Accuse.”[10]

Lastly on the role of satire, it needs to be responsible:

“The whole reason the concept of responsible satire has been summed up as “punch up, don’t punch down” is to acknowledge that not all your targets of satire start out on an equal footing. Francois Hollande is not on the same level as girls who have been kidnapped into sexual slavery, and having the same “no-holds-barred” attitude toward them both is not the same as treating them fairly. {Charlie Hebdo had a front page cartoon about Nigerian Muslim schoolgirls kidnapped, raped and impregnated by terrorists depicted as ‘benefits scroungers pregnant with more benefits scroungers’ – feeding into that now popular stereotype about black immigrants sucking the ‘white’ state’s finances dry.}

The situation of the Muslims in France right now is rather dismal. The scars of the riots nine years ago are still fresh for many people, Muslims make up 60 to 70 percent of the prison population despite being less than 20 percent of the population overall, and France’s law against “religious symbols in public spaces” is specifically enforced to target Muslim women who choose to wear hijab—ironic considering we are now touting Charlie Hebdo as a symbol of France’s staunch commitment to civil liberties.”[11]

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4337031.stm

[2] http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/09/trolls-and-martyrdom-je-ne-suis-pas-charlie.html

[3] http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/nicolas-anelka-anti-semitic-gesture-quenelle-2966787

[4] www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/nicolas-anelka-anti-semitic-gesture-quenelle-2966787

[5] http://www.nme.com/news/Monsieur-R/23193

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_France#List_of_censored_songs

[7] http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichCodeArticle.do?idArticle=LEGIARTI000006688178&cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006072665

[8] http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/09/trolls-and-martyrdom-je-ne-suis-pas-charlie.html

[9] https://maskedavenger1.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/le-mort-de-charlie-hebdo-quel-dommage/

[10] http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/01/09/pers-j09.html

[11] http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/09/trolls-and-martyrdom-je-ne-suis-pas-charlie.html

About Hassan Colone


  1. Ayatollah Nasarullah

    At least they did not killed.

  2. Allah is Great

    First off, these “inconsistencies” are posted on a pro-islamic website whose agenda is deflect the discussion away from the fact that muslims are beheading people and blowing up 10 year old girls in the name of Allah, and make it about “free-speech double standards”. And the more we buy that narrative, the more we lose the point.

    Secondly, those “inconsistencies” are completely consistent with a free and dynamic democracy that involves the opinions of millions of people over centuries of evolution. It would be literally impossible not to find a single person who didn’t have a number of inconsistencies throughout their lifetime, yet alone a fully functioning society comprised of millions.

    Anything on this page can be said about anyone anywhere anytime. It’s a pseudo selection of facts used to obfuscate the issues, and we mustn’t be blinded by the fog.

    • Muslims, as you put it, are not beheading and killing, *some* Muslims are. There’s a big difference. Hitler acted in the name of Germans, are all German nationalists all around the world held accountable? Anders Breivik killed me people in his terrorist attack than any other in living memory in the name of Europe, are all European conservatives or right wingers asked to respond or be held responsible?! It’s very obvious you are trying to refocus the discussion back to pointing fingers at British Muslims who can do nothing about the Algerians in France and the unique causes that lead them to terrorist groups, but they can point out that free speech needs to be fair for all.

  3. Assalamu Alaikum.
    Well documented article.
    I reblogged here:
    Jazakallaahu Khayra.

  4. This article is complete trash and has nothing to do with jurnalism, is this some fan blog or what?

  5. The president of the Catholic League said the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo “provoked” Wednesday’s deadly attack with its mocking cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

    In a statement titled, “Muslims Are Right to Be Angry,” Bill Donohue condemned the killings, but also said Charlie Hebdo’s “intolerance” of religious figures is what prompted the attack. Twelve people were killed after masked gunmen stormed the publication’s offices in Paris.

    “Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures,” Donohue said. “For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses.”

    The Catholic League founder said Muslims have opposed the “vulgar manner” in which the Prophet Muhammad had been depicted, going on to accuse newspaper publisher Stephane Charbonnier, who was killed Wednesday, of playing a role in his own death.

    “It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. In 2012, when asked why he insults Muslims, he said, ‘Muhammad isn’t sacred to me,’” Donohue said. “Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive. Muhammad isn’t sacred to me, either, but it would never occur to me to deliberately insult Muslims by trashing him.”

    “… the US/UK invaded the Middle East on false pretexts to make vast profit for the oil industry and the debt-based banking system which is toxic to the health of this planet. This cannot be separated from the effects of terrorism…”

  6. Mr Ibrahim, I agree we should definitely talk about solutions not just about complaints and grievances. But I have to say articles like these give an ordinary Muslim (who may be ignorant like me about numerous such hypocritical incidents) some insight and substance to base thier stance against the hypocrisy in the media. How about you? Why dont you write an article with some good solutions as you suggested? I benefited a lot from this article. Well done. This is not a failure at all.

    • Mr M A Rahman,

      If the opportunity is presented to write an article then I would accept the invite, otherwise there is nothing wrong with pointing out deficiencies where they appear – we cannot all think alike and agree on everything, there needs to be a healthy divergeance of ideas and opinions to keep up level and balanced

      Agreeing with everything a brother says is not going to resolve our problems.

      Wa Aleikum Salaam

  7. Oh dear, some of you just don’t understand the battle of ideas do you? Here’s an idea for those wanting a practical solution – Hijrah . Just as the Jews couldn’t stop the wave of anti semetism in the 20s and 30s, despite their massive influence, integration and access to power: I doubt Muslims can either. The only difference is that we have Muslim countries to move to, which they didn’t then. Seriously as this John Freedland said, “If this onslaught was about Jews, I would be looking for my passport” http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/oct/18/comment.politics

  8. Samy Merchant

    Article is right on the money. The hypocrisy of the West is just glaring you in the face and this article exposes it. Must be so embarrassing for the Western news media to be exposed as hypocrites. Better to be honest and tell the world, “We don’t have freedom of speech in the West but we are working towards it.”

  9. I can’t speak to incidents in Europe. But in the USA I can tell you that it is possible to be both anti-Semitic and also granted freedom of speech. I don’t agree with the former any more than I agree with being anti-Muslim or anti- any other group except for anti-violence, but it is protected and vigorously so.

  10. So, now every Muslim should stand up and bomb and shoot anyone who causes offence or insults?? Another fine example of beating the chest with self pity and blame others. Muslims are killing muslims like animals, we hate each other, we drink each other’s blood, no worder our youth can find true guidance with write ups like these. There is not a single word of what a young muslim should do in this article. What another waste of space!!!

  11. Do you think that this imbalance can be redressed by censoring what is not censored as well as the things here that have been censored?

    It’s ironic that you claim freedom of speech is for the powerful when it’s those with power who impose censorship.

  12. I agree with what’s been written but do have a problem with the Muslim burning a poppy and the group of Muslims holding a vocal protest against British Military Returnees from Afghanistan. Don’t get me wrong, I am neither a poppy fan nor a supporter of British military campaign in Afghanistan. However, I believe Muslim actions in the two examples mentioned were rather irresponsible, unwise and uncalled for and only serve to inflame public opinion and fan hatred against Muslims and potentially harm ordinary Muslims. It was narrated that Prophet Mohammed PBUH said: “He who believes in Allah and the hereafter either say something good or keep silent”. Extrapolating this Hadith, if a Muslim is unable do good then the least he can do is stop taking part in futile counter-productive activities.

  13. Congratulations.

    So while the world converges to make their statement in Paris you have nothing better to offer the community but a list of silly cartoon incidents?

    No one is denying the double standards out there – but what you fail to realise is that the other communities actually do things to ensure that their rights are secured, they do not post useless articles complaining while the world moves by

    What would have been better actually, if you posted a list of 16 things the Muslim community could have done and should do to prevent these satirical attacks next time, that would be more pragmatic, useful and respectable – but serving us the same old complaint letters only reminds us of our pathetic and weak state

    The Jews dont need to break a single window to get their point across – that is because they know how to influence the right people and push the right buttons, where it hurts (in the pockets) rather than going out and airing the insults for every Amr, Bakr and Zayd to get upset over, while not providing ANY solutions to the problem

    No wonder why we end up with all the nutcases going around killing in the name of Al-Islaam

    Get it together

    Before you write another article, do the following things

    1. For every time you said “They did” – give us a “We did” or at least “We plan to do”
    2. Stop looking at Kuffar for examples of how to misbehave, look at the illustrious example of the Prophet Sayyidul Kawnayn Muhammad Ibn AbdullAhi Al Qurashy an-Araby. Stop comparing us to Kuffar
    3. If your article starts with a complaint, is filled with complaints but does not end with a list of useful tips, realistic and constructive plans for the community on how to help resolve our issues – then dont publish.

    This article is a failure – the world is marking an historic March in the heart of Europe with unprecedented threat and fear within the Muslim community in Europe and you are dumbing us down with more “tit-for-tat” cartoon rebuttals

    WallAhi – stop humiliating us

    • Chill, br. Ibrahim. Instead of listing what the author should have done differently, I suggest you spend your time and energy doing something about what you suggest–like your suggested list of 16 things the Muslim community can do to prevent attacks/violence. We’re all ears. Unless you’re talking just for the sake of talking, we’re all listening.

      At least the author of the article put together a well-written, informative article. What are you doing to make the world a better place? I think the author does have a right to “complain” as you put it–I am a Muslim woman living in the US and I am harassed all the time because of my faith. If there wasn’t so much anti-Muslim, bigoted, Fox-like rhetoric out there (which the author is addressing), my life would be much easier. I feel I DO have a right to complain and anyone who says otherwise is just kidding him/herself.

      • Sister, May Allah preserve you – thank you for your naseeha.

        As for writing my own articles, I am not posing as a journalist of social commentator with solutions however just as you defend the author’s right to complain about the mediocrity of today’s mainstream media, I too reserve the right to complain about the mediocrity of today’s critics – so in the end, all we are left with is an endless cycle of complaints and counter-complaints with no solutions in sight, this has never resolved any of our problems.

        My request is for this forum to be used for a more constructive and productive message, 9/10 of the articles are put up as a form of complaint or rant – what does that say about our condition.

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