Charlie hebdo

Must Paris reinvent itself?

In this odd book, the Financial Times columnist Simon Kuper narrates his experience as an expatriate ‘uptight northern European’ living in Paris with his family. His American wife, Pamela Duckerman, also a journalist, is the author of Bringing Up Bébé, a culture-shock memoir about having children in Paris and discovering French child-rearing ways, which are often radically at odds with American ideas and habits. Impossible City touches on some of the same territory (Kuper’s French acculturation through his children’s schooling and socialising), but it aims at a more comprehensive portrayal of rapidly evolving 21st-century Paris, warts and all; or, as he puts it, in a phrase that some may find

The view from the Paris bus — an appreciation of everyday life

Many would say the commute was one thing they didn’t miss in lockdown. But when Lauren Elkin was ‘yanked out of the public sphere and resituated, inescapably, in the private’, she felt nostalgic for the bus’s incidental intimacy. The Franco-American writer and translator revisited notes made on her iPhone between September 2014 and November 2015, after she pledged to ‘observe the world through the screen of my phone, rather than to use my phone to distract myself from the world’. The diary entries record biweekly journeys between her home in Paris’s fifth arrondissement and the university where she taught in the seventh. These private jottings take shape as No. 91/92:

In defence of Charlie Hebdo’s ‘racist royals’ cover

Amid the ongoing fallout from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s explosive Oprah interview, Charlie Hebdo seems to have done the impossible: it has united Team Queen and Team Meghan in outrage against it. In response to Markle’s claims that she was pushed out of the royal family by racism, the fearless French satirical magazine published a front-page cartoon of the queen with her knee on Meghan’s neck. The cartoon is titled ‘Why Meghan quit the palace’, to which Markle answers in a speech bubble, ‘Because I couldn’t breathe any more’. It has united Team Queen and Team Meghan in outrage The depiction of the queen, complete with hairy legs and

‘We’re all members of the Stasi now’: Irvine Welsh interviewed

The history of the word ‘offend’, from the Latin offendere, to hit, attack, injure, is a revealing one. From its starting point in physical violence to transgression against God in the Middle Ages, today ‘offence’, understood as displeasure or upset, is seemingly everywhere. The word may no longer refer to direct physical harm, but culture of all kinds, from artworks to comedy to literature to music, seems to have an upsetting quality to some. Words, we are told, are ‘violence’, images are hurtful, differing opinions are dangerous and must be suppressed. Even silence is ‘violence’, as this year’s Black Lives Matter protests reminded us. Social media has undoubtedly encouraged this

France’s new reactionaries

When President de Gaulle was asked to authorise the criminal prosecution of Jean-Paul Sartre for civil disobedience during the Algerian war, he declined. ‘One does not lock up Voltaire,’ he added, unhistorically. In France, ‘public intellectuals’ have a quasi-constitutional status, so it’s not surprising that a furious bunfight has broken out over a handful of philosophers known as ‘les nouveaux réactionnaires’. The new reactionaries do not see themselves as a group, but they defend a common point of view about the causes of France’s diminishing status and influence. They look back on a golden age that started with the French revolution and continued for nearly 200 years as France —

Whatever happened to ‘Je Suis Charlie’?

Five years on from the horrific Charlie Hebdo massacre in which a dozen people lost their lives, politicians have been busy showcasing their sanctimony. Socialist mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo urged people ‘never to forget’ the price the cartoonists paid for the courage. Yet only last week, Hidalgo used Twitter to express her ‘profound shock’ at a small publicity campaign on the Paris transport network opposing assisted medical procreation for lesbian couples and single women, an issue currently under discussion in the Senate. Once she had recovered her equanimity, Hidalgo ordered ‘that the posters be withdrawn immediately’. But what did Charlie Hebdo stand for if not the freedom to publish things

What happened to Je Suis Charlie, Prime Minister? | 11 August 2018

On January 11 2015, I was one of two million people who marched slowly and silently through Paris to honour the memory of the people slaughtered days earlier for being blasphemers and Jewish. It was an extraordinary day, an emotional one, too, soured only a little by the sight of presidents and prime ministers at the head of the march. These were the people who for years had been pretending there wasn’t a problem with the rise throughout the West of political Islam. Now, following the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and the shoppers in the Kosher supermarket, they had muscled their way to the front to claim they

Funny is dangerous

‘I’m off now,’ says Michael Heath, signing off from his selection of Desert Island Discs on Radio 4, ‘to go and do a gag about God knows what. I haven’t the foggiest idea.’ You’d think at 80 he might want to stop, or have to give up because he’d somehow lost his touch. But not the cartoon editor of this magazine, and chief creator of wicked skits on the idiocies and affectations of contemporary life. What’s it like working as a cartoonist after the attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo? asked Kirsty Young. ‘It adds a certain frisson to your drawing,’ Michael replies. ‘But I never wanted to be

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

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

Diary – 7 January 2016

So far my responsibilities as the 2016 chair of the Man Booker prize have been rather light. We’ve had our first meeting, received our first batch of books, and I’ve bought a smart notebook for record-keeping. I shall take a step back from journalism this year, including my Sunday Times column, but that doesn’t mean I shall be less active in the fight for freedom of expression. Some things are non-negotiable. I’ve just read Open Letter by the late Charlie Hebdo editor Charb. He finished it two days before his death in the massacre on 7 January 2015. The book is aimed at both religious extremists and their apologists. ‘No

Freedom is our best weapon against Isis

Of all the guff churned out about Isis, the refrain that we are engaged in a ‘clash of civilisations’ and ‘battle of ideas’ is uniquely moronic. Isis doesn’t want civilisation. As for a battle of ideas – what ideas? Isis doesn’t have any, unless you count an apocalyptic fight to the death in Dabiq or Rome. We are reliably informed that Isis includes some very intelligent people who spend years planning terror attacks. Yet it took the, ahem, ‘conflicted’ Mohamed Bouhlel – that brave warrior who defecated on his own daughter’s bed – months to plan his terror attack, which consisted solely of getting in a lorry and putting his foot

France has become a religious battleground

The new year has not started well for France. On the last day of 2015 – the most traumatic year for the French in decades because of the twin attacks in Paris – president Francois Hollande warned the nation in his traditional New Year’s Eve address: ‘France is not done with terrorism… these tragic events will remain for ever etched in our memories, they shall never disappear. But despite the tragedy, France has not given in. Despite the tears, the country has remained upright.’ Hollande’s warning was borne out within 24 hours. On the first day of 2016 a lone motorist – inspired by Islamic State – drove at a

There’s nothing courageous about Charlie Hebdo’s anniversary cover

The new Charlie Hebdo cover is feeble. God with a machine-gun, looking over his shoulder, and the line ‘The Assassin is still at large’. It makes Richard Dawkins look nuanced. Religion is to blame? All religion? It feels dishonest, timid: a refusal to face the fact that it’s a particular form of religion that is the problem. In fact satire in general is pretty feeble, when it comes to religion and terrorism. Satire is good at attacking established power, and religious terrorism is obviously an intensely marginal thing – far more marginal than satire itself. There is a wider target: Islam in general, but in the West this too is

‘Religion of peace’ is not a harmless platitude | 28 December 2015

We’re closing 2015 by republishing our ten most-read articles of the year. Here’s No10: Douglas Murray’s piece about Islam and violence, first written in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks but read most (and shared most widely) after the Bataclan atrocity.  The West’s movement towards the truth is remarkably slow. We drag ourselves towards it painfully, inch by inch, after each bloody Islamist assault. In France, Britain, Germany, America and nearly every other country in the world it remains government policy to say that any and all attacks carried out in the name of Mohammed have ‘nothing to do with Islam’. It was said by George W. Bush after 9/11, Tony

Portrait of the year | 10 December 2015

January David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that only electing the Conservatives could ‘save Britain’s economic recovery’. Labour unveiled a poster saying: ‘The Tories want to cut spending on public services back to the levels of the 1930s,’ and Ed Miliband, the party leader, said he would ‘weaponise the NHS’. Two male ‘hedge witches’ were wed under the equal marriage law in a pagan ceremony in Edinburgh. Alexis Tsipras became prime minister of Greece, heading a Syriza coalition. In Paris, gunmen murdered 17 people, 11 at Charlie Hebdo, the magazine that had published cartoons of Mohammed. The price of Brent crude oil dipped below $50 a barrel, down from $107

Ian Rankin’s diary: Paris, ignoring Twitter and understanding evil

After ten days away, I spent last Friday at home alone, catching up on washing, shopping for cat food, answering emails. Quotidian stuff. An early dinner with one of my sons, and I was in bed at a decent hour. Checking Twitter, I began to realise that a grim spectacle was unfolding in Paris. Soon enough, on-the-ground reportage was joined by rumour, inaccuracy and blatant misinformation. That’s the problem with ‘rolling news’ — and Twitter has become part of that industry. On the TV, the reports were more measured but far less immediate, with repetitious footage of police cars and emergency workers. Twitter was the more immersive and pulsating place

Douglas Murray

France’s civil war…

In the wake of the massacre in Paris, President François Hollande said that France was ‘at war’ — and that it must be fought both inside his country and outside in the Middle East. As the French air force began dropping bombs on Raqqa in Syria, another operation was under way in towns and cities across France: 168 raids in two days. A battle on two fronts has begun. Chartres cathedral is one of the great monuments of western civilisation, but Chartres was also home to one of the Bataclan theatre suicide bombers. A man from the same area died last summer in Syria, fighting for Isis. In Lyon, theraids

Will politicians finally admit that the Paris attacks had something to do with Islam?

The West’s movement towards the truth is remarkably slow. We drag ourselves towards it painfully, inch by inch, after each bloody Islamist assault. In France, Britain, Germany, America and nearly every other country in the world it remains government policy to say that any and all attacks carried out in the name of Mohammed have ‘nothing to do with Islam’. It was said by George W. Bush after 9/11, Tony Blair after 7/7 and Tony Abbott after the Sydney attack last month. It is what David Cameron said after two British extremists cut off the head of Drummer Lee Rigby in London, when ‘Jihadi John’ cut off the head of

Why is the BBC letting the Islamic Human Rights Commission set the agenda?

The farcically named ‘Islamic Human Rights Commission’ has featured here many times before. The last time was earlier this year when this Khomeinist group decided to award their ‘Islamophobe of the Year’ award to the murdered staff of Charlie Hebdo. At their ‘awards ceremony’ for this the IHRC even joked about what a shame it was that none of the staff of Charlie Hebdo were around to collect the award. Today the IHRC has thrown a smoke grenade into the public debate by issuing ‘findings’ claiming that the UK government’s counter-extremism and counter-terrorism policies are having a ‘negative impact’ on British Muslims. The ‘work’ is the usual confection of non-research

Why are students now cheering about the massacre at Charlie Hebdo?

I witnessed something genuinely disturbing at Trinity College Dublin last night: trendy, middle-class, liberal students cheering and whooping a man who had just given the closest thing I have yet heard to a justification for the massacre at Charlie Hebdo. It was as part of a debate on the right to offend. I was on the side of people having the right to say whatever the hell they want, no matter whose panties it bunches. The man on the other side who implied that Charlie Hebdo got what it deserved, and that the right to offend is a poisonous, dangerous notion, was one Asghar Bukhari of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee.