In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre last week and just days since the historic Paris unity rally when world leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder and declared their support for freedom of speech, French authorities have arrested 54 people on charges of “glorifying” or “defending” terrorism.
The French Justice Ministry said that of those arrested, four are minors and several had already been convicted under special measures for immediate sentencing, AP reports. Individuals charged with “inciting terrorism” face a possible 5-year prison term, or up to 7 years for inciting terrorism online. None of those arrested have been linked to the attacks.
Why is one view permissible and the other criminally barred—other than because the force of law is being used to control political discourse and one form of terrorism (violence in the Muslim world) is done by, rather than to, the west?
Controversial comic Dieudonné was one of those taken into custody Wednesday morning for a Facebook post in which he declared: “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”—merging the names of the satire magazine and Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four hostages at a kosher market on Friday.
Since last week’s multiple terrorism attacks that left 17 people dead, “France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and glorifying terrorism,” AP reports.
The irony that the west was rallying to defend a magazine that was attacked for its alleged slander of Islam, while at the same persecuting individuals for voicing their views was not lost on many.
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“As pernicious as this arrest and related ‘crackdown’ on some speech obviously is, it provides a critical value: namely, it underscores the utter scam that was this week’s celebration of free speech in the west,” journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote on Wednesday.
Greenwald went on to question the charge of “defending terrorism” brought against Dieudonné and others. Greenwald continued:
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