Letter from Charlie Hebdo editor Caroline Alamachère to Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the CFCM (French Muslim Council).
Translation from French to English by Alison Chabloz.
The publication of a Charlie Hebdo edition depicting Muhammad has once again led to dismal retaliation from decidedly unenlightened individuals which - as President of the CFCM - it is your duty to convey. In Wednesday’s “Le Monde” you claim to see no link between the elections in Tunisia and Libya and a caricatural outrage reminding us for better or worse of Sharia law - at the very least in its most spectacular form for the average French Citizen with little knowledge of what is happening on the ground.
I esteem you to be an intelligent and cultivated person, so you should know that French caricature is a very old tradition and a popular art; no topic is spared - certainly not a topic of news; and the introduction of Sharia law in a country whose modern history is firmly secular is a sufficiently serious and disturbing subject: Sharia and Islam do not have to be exceptions to this rule. Sharia is based on a 14th century, deeply hateful, sexist, archaic system which is retrograde, discriminatory and undemocratic. Reporting on this system by way of caricature is a method which shows Sharia in all its abjection. Condemning Sharia, Sir, is a public safety act, required that you may enjoy democracy in France where you choose to live in complete freedom. Would you enjoy the same freedom in Morocco? I doubt it, otherwise how to explain the exodus of Moroccans from Morocco to France? The air is softer and freer, here.
Sharia law, as advocated by the Qur’an, makes it an integral part of Islam (the Qur’an is the basis of Islam - Islamism being only its most virulent expression). Therefore, it is highly desirable to get worried about it. All the more so, since those to whom we owe such undemocratic disaster are living in our country and chosen “dhimmis” - described thus by your dogma - are calling for these promotors of Sharia law to present themselves in forthcoming elections with the terrible consequences we imagine.
You state that “For Muslims the mere fact of caricaturing the Prophet is in itself unacceptable and offensive.” Offensive, I see. But unacceptable?
What is unacceptable is to prevent divorce, “including in France.”
What is unacceptable is to allow polygamy, “including in France.”
What is unacceptable is to consider that the woman is inferior to man, “Including in France.”
What is unacceptable is to dissimulate women in black shrouds, “including in France.”
What is unacceptable is to deny women the right to marry the man of her choice, and instead force her to marry a man chosen for her by his family, “including in France.”
What is unacceptable is that there is a “European Council for Fatwa and Research decreeing Fatwas whose vocation to be applied in France.”
In France, blasphemy is not punishable by law: also demonstrated by the recent Qur’an burning case which saw the book-burner released. Accordingly in France, Mr. Moussaoui, it is possible to burn a Qur’an if desired and it is equally possible to caricature and mock a prophet, even yours.
Different organisations hostile to this publication, Charlie Hebdo, have flourished on Internet forums; some copiously insulting the French, others crying out for cartoons of ‘Jews of 40’ which seems pretty far away from your desire for a “disagreement expressed in compliance with laws and the integrity of the people.” You should also remind your fellow clerics, so caring and loving towards their citizen hosts, that the festival of Eid al-Adha which they will celebrate in a few days is a vibrant tribute to Abraham, a Jew! I think some may ignore this detail given the remarkably low intellectual level of their comments.
In your interview, one phrase particularly appeals to me: “At the same time, they must accept and understand that in our society, sacred belief is not the same for all.” I would like to know what society you’re talking about. Is it Muslim society; French society; Moroccan society?
If it’s Moroccan society, do you not feel French? If it’s Muslim society, are you not in favour of democracy?
And if it’s French society you’re talking about, I remind you that France doesn’t count - seeing as the state has been separate from religion since that famous in 1905 law which, clearly and despite recently being granted French citizenship, you do not seem to have integrated that well…
Moreover, in your document that lists the different slaughterhouses for Eid, you perfectly illustrate the difficulty you and your co-religionists have in considering yourselves full French citizens since you send your greetings to “Muslims in France” and not to French Muslims. I invite you and your fellow “Muslims of France” to question your role within our French society, your ability to adhere to our secular, democratic values and your ability to practice self-derision, for really, I find that you do tend to get your turbans in a twist an awful lot.
I look forward to your report on acts of Islamophobia, and, in turn, will not fail to compile acts of Francophobia which I’d be happy to send you. Moreover, seeking (unsuccessfully) your coordinates, I came across an article on cfcmtv website which is particularly insulting to French citizens. I am very shocked by the stench of xenophobia in this article in which France is described as “a sick and satanised republic… under the benevolent protection of occult power… finding enjoyment in the evil spectacle of an unwanted fringe of its population.. France is victim of French arrogance and pride.”
As a representative of Muslims in France, you’d be well advised to ensure that the country that welcomes you and has accepted you as a citizen, will not be insulted and dragged through the mud by your community, because if the blasphemy act does not exist, the defamation act does. I therefore ask you to ensure that this article is rectified so as not to create more tension.
Please accept, Mr. Moussaoui, my definitively secular greetings.