Gavin Mortimer

The French left is as much Je Suis Che as it is Je Suis Charlie

The French left is as much Je Suis Che as it is Je Suis Charlie
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A new art exhibition has recently opened in Paris and it's caused a bit of a stir. Housed in the city hall, 'Che in Paris' is dedicated to the life and times of Che Guevara, the Marxist revolutionary who was killed in Bolivia just over fifty years ago.

Guevara had an affection for the French capital, particularly the Louvre, where he would spend hours admiring Jérôme Bosch's 'La Nef des fous'.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is evidently proud of this link, describing Che Guevara recently as a 'romantic icon', a curious description of a man who oversaw the torture and execution of his class enemies while in charge of La Cabaña prison in Havana.

Hidalgo isn't the first French socialist to wax lyrical about South American Marxists. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the far-left France Insoumise, was an admirer of Hugo Chavez, and in 2016 the former Socialist presidential candidate, Ségolène Royal, jetted off to Cuba to attend the funeral of Fidel Castro, describing the man who murdered thousands of his own people as 'a monument to history'.

On her return to France, Royal brushed aside her critics, declaring that it wasn't her job but that of historians to examine the 'light and shade' of the Castro era. Royal's former partner - and the former president of France - François Hollande was championed by his Socialist MPs during his presidency as the worthy successor to Che Guevara, presumably minus the torture and execution.

This moral immaturity isn't just confined to the French left. Jeremy Corbyn's veneration of all things Venezuelan is well-documented, and Bernie Sanders was also once a member of the Castro fan club.

The left's ongoing infatuation with Che Guevara and Chavez would be laughable were it not for the fact that in recent years they've also become smitten with a similarly dangerous ideology, Islamism, succumbing to the same romantic delusions as they did with South American hoodlums who masqueraded as Marxist freedom fighters.

This naivety manifests itself in many forms. Mélenchon's tweet in the summer of 2016, for example, compared the treatment of Muslims in France to that of the wartime Jews, shortly after an Islamist had murdered 86 people in Nice, while Sonia Nour, an assistant to a communist mayor in Parisian suburb, described the Tunisian who stabbed to death two young women outside Marseille train station while screaming 'Allahu akbar' as a 'martyr' .

It's no surprise that many with Marxist leanings have embraced Islamism given some of the ideological similarities; that's why someone like Carlos the Jackal has found the conversion to Islam so easy. Carlos says that revolutionary Islam 'attacks the ruling classes in order to achieve a more equitable redistribution of wealth', but that's not to say he's renounced his roots. When Gilles Kepel claimed he had in a television interview, the French author soon received a letter from Carlos in which he stated he was still very much a Marxist but that 'nowadays Islam is the voice of the oppressed'.

Similar sentiments have been expressed by some on the French left, such as the journalist Edwy Plenel, who last year accused Charlie Hebdo of waging 'a war against Muslims'.

To commemorate the third anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo killings, an event was held in Paris on Saturday entitled 'Still Charlie!', which was attended by a cross-section of personalities, from the former Prime Minister, Manuel Valls to Inna Shevchenko, founder of the feminist protest group, Femen. In an interview with Le Figaro, one of the organisers, Laurent Bouvet, explained that the purpose of the rally was to express their unyielding commitment to the freedom of expression.

It is a freedom still under attack, not just from the Islamists but also their allies on the left, the intellectual terrorists, whose objective is to intimidate critics into silence with accusations of 'Islamophobia'.

'There is a part of the left that refuses to see the reality of the Islamists' ideology at work under different forms,' said Bouvet. 'There's terrorism and jihadism, of course, but it's also seen in speeches and events skilfully organised to advance into the public domain certain ideas, in particular those opposing the equality of the sexes and the freedom of expression.'

These were just the sort of people that Charb had in mind when he wrote, 'Letters to the fraudsters of Islamophobia', an essay that was published three months after he and his colleagues at Charlie Hebdo were murdered.

Last year Lille University cancelled a theatrical production of Charb's work, for fear it would provoke a disturbance, yet a few months later the same socialist city staged a day's festivities to mark the 50th anniversary of Che Guevara's death. It says much about the idiocy of many of the French left that they can celebrate the life of a South American guerrilla but not that of one of their own who was killed because he believed in free speech.