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.
Honestly, I’m trying to stay calm and not send out a pile of hugely angry emails. Hence this blog.
I need a break. Work wise. I really believed one fell into my lap the other day…
I’d been promised a full-run gig at the Edinburgh Fringe as pianist-accompanist to an American lady stand-up, organised by her Brighton promoter. Following offers of sojourning on the Dorset coast for July rehearsals and a mail insisting I ‘save the dates’, well, the guy turned out to be a jerk…
Before I explain further, here’s my #EdFringe story so far :
My first ever solo Fringe show was in 2011. As I’d been told not to expect any press interest in first-timers, I was literally over the moon when ThreeWeeks mailed me, asking if I could come to their studio and record a live podcast of one of my songs. The review was published and I knew my Fringe experience had been totally worthwhile. Nevertheless, it had been a tough run. I felt I’d been mistreated by Laughing Horse impresario, Alex Petty, as well as by the venue owner. At least, until my show review came out, neither took me seriously: Petty repeatedly ignored my calls to repair a broken speaker, and the noise coming from the venue manager and his bevvied-up mates during performances was frankly embarrassing. Finally, I complained to the Fringe office and the situation did improve: the speaker was fixed and bar staff did a great job in trying to hush their noisiest customers.
At the end of my full run of shows, I met a couple of performers involved with the original Free Fringe - arch rivals of Laughing Horse. Elaborating on my somewhat negative impression of LH, I was assured that the Free Fringe would have space for me in 2012, that Peter Buckley Hill (the founder of the Free Fringe) was looking for more musicians and other music venues.
I applied and was immediately turned down. Shocked and disappointed, I took this refusal to mean that ex-Laughing Horse artists simply weren’t an option. Instead of the Fringe 2012, I went to Egypt for the summer season - not particularly lucrative, but at least I got to perform several times a week.
Back to 2013 and the break I thought had arrived the other day. Still intent on doing the Fringe this year, I began sending mails to venues on the EdFringe ‘performer opportunities’ list and I also joined a Facebook page dedicated to PBH’s Free Fringe 2013. Last week, I noticed a post on this same page looking for musicians. Two fellow musos had replied to the post and page admin answered, offering them available times. My post was ignored, so I sent a private message. A certain ‘Chris’ messaged back saying he wasn’t the hierarchy and I should apply via the Free Fringe website, which I did.
Four days later and still no reply to my mail, I wrote again to Mr Buckley Hill asking why the silence. I was impatient to get things moving: Chris had also stated in his message that there were ample opportunities for performance still available.
This time, perhaps prodded into action by the rather indignant tone of my mail, Buckley Hill - who does not know me at all - responded that my mail indicated to him that I seemed not be a ‘team player’. Moreover, he goes on to accuse me of trying to bully him, saying I am ‘looking for an excuse to feel discriminated against’.
But the evidence is plain as day! I was treated differently than the other posters on the FB page. The fact that the two other musicians happen to be men is beside the point, but nonetheless indicative, perhaps, of undertones of misogyny which I had experienced at LH.
The final paragraph of Buckley Hill’s astonishing mail seems to indicate that I have no hope of being offered any spots:
Your email of 17th remains with our music section team. I am not giving you their contact details. I see no reason why they should receive email in the same sort of tone you have sent to me. If they want you, they will contact you.
Who in the music section would dare to offer an ex-LH performer a spot without first a nod of approval from His Lordship? Certainly not Chris - and he needs musicians to fill spots!
People can be pathetic sometimes and this is one of those times. Buckley Hill is so busy trying to wave his willy in Petty’s direction that he fails to notice what’s important. As for the ‘ethos and conditions’ which PBH’s Free Fringe-ers must accept - this must be a joke, as far as artists like me are concerned, right? Where is the ethos in advertising for musicians, yet not even bothering to reply to proven Fringe artists? Doesn’t my story imply that PBH is guilty of the exact same lack of ‘ethos’ which he constantly uses as an excuse to criticise LH?
If I had a willy myself - which I obviously don’t - then I might be also tempted to wave it at Petty. But Petty doesn’t seem to hold massive grudges in the same manner as his competitor: Petty didn’t delete me from his mailing list - at least not until I’d politely asked him to do so last year. I stupidly believed these mails were a big risk factor in Buckley Hill saying no - which he said anyway, and which he seems to be saying again this year, despite the fact that PBH venues are publicly advertising for more musicians.
The question must be asked: what purpose does the ‘original, one-and-only, blah blah, PBH’s Free Fringe’ truly serve when it refuses vacant venues to artists in my situation? Didn’t The Scotsman judge PBH shows negatively compared to LH’s last year? And what about the article published on STV news, claiming that Buckley Hill was going to take a back seat and allow performers to have more say in the organisation? Fat chance of such a thing ever happening. *Sigh*. It would seem that which ever way you look at it, I am well and truly fucked as far as being able to reserve some early slots which I can plan and publicise in time - at least as far as PBH is concerned. Bottom line: better the devil you know.
And, Mr Buckley Hill, if you are reading this, I’m thinking of dedicating my new song to you. I look forward to premiering it on the Edinburgh stage. It doesn’t look likely to be one of your stages, which is a shame. But that would be your loss, and not mine.