2015年1月10日 星期六

Charlie Hebdo / The Mocking Tradition Behind Charlie Hebdo

“What sets France on a particular collision course with Islamic practices is the country’s radical brand of secularism — and this ideology’s impact on French Muslim life.” ‪#‎CharlieHebdo‬
The country's radical secularism clashes with many Muslims' desire to...

The Mocking Tradition Behind Charlie Hebdo

The magazine is the heir to a French school of thought that has made fun of religion from Catholicism to jihadism


Jan. 9, 2015 5:27 p.m. ET


An anticlerical caricature, c. 1754, shows an abbé fattened by corruption. UNIVERSAL HISTORY ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

The satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo was the conscious heir to a French intellectual tradition with a long history: radical anticlericalism.

Before the Charlie Hebdo era (the magazine dates from the late 1960s), France’s most influential anticlerical thinkers trained their fire on Catholicism—for centuries the country’s state religion. As a rule, however, these individuals objected not so much to precise points of religious doctrine as to the fanaticism, ignorance and persecution that, in their view, tended to accompany “true faith.” The opponents of doctrinaire Catholicism used caricature, irony and humorous blasphemy—thus setting the tone for Charlie Hebdo’s later fight with jihadist Islam.

Anticlerical French thought traces its origins to rambunctious early Catholic practices such as Carnival, in which Christian morality was temporarily and gleefully suspended, as well as to Renaissance literary representations of priests as importunate louts. In François Rabelais’s “Gargantua” (1534), the eponymous hero rails against monks because they “neither plow, like the peasant, nor heal the sick, like the doctor” but instead “harass the whole neighborhood by rattling their church-bells” and mumbling “countless legends and psalms they don’t even understand.”

Anticlericalism reached its apogee during the Enlightenment. Brandishing finely honed logic and wicked humor, the philosophes gleefully mocked what they saw as the inconsistencies and absurdities of Church dogma. Voltaire excelled at this technique. In his novella “L’Ingénu” (1767), a gaggle of small-town priests and parishioners decides to convert an Amerindian “savage”—only to see their plan go comically awry when the newcomer makes a quick study of the Bible and then demands that they comply with all of its directives, from circumcision (generally dismissed by Voltaire’s contemporaries as a “Jewish” practice) to baptism in a river (rather than at a baptismal font).

位於巴黎的《查理週刊》(Charlie Hebdo Officiel)辦公室今天稍早遭到歹徒持槍攻擊造成 12 人死亡、數人受傷的慘劇。《查理週刊》以反諷漫畫聞名,曾面臨侮辱伊斯蘭教的爭議。國際特赦組織法國分會Amnesty International France 秘書長 Stephan Oberreit 說:「對於言論自由與活躍的新聞文化而言,這無疑是黑暗的一天,更是令人震驚的人間悲劇。」

Fight intimidation with controversy: Charlie Hebdo’s response to critics

French magazine has history of defying attempts to curtail freedom of expression; the latest a provocative tweet to Isis chief

Live blog: follow the latest on Paris shootings

Charlie Hebdo’s publisher, Stephane Charbonnier
Charlie Hebdo’s publisher, Stephane Charbonnier, at the magazine’s office in Paris. Photograph: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
Moments before Charlie Hebdo’s offices were attacked, the magazine’s Twitter handle published a cartoon wishing a happy new year “and particularly good health” to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State (Isis).
Its cover this week features Michel Houellebecq’s provocative new novel, Submission, which satirises France under a Muslim president. These are just the latest examples of a publication that responds to efforts at intimidation by being even more irreverent or outrageous, defying the constraints of religious sensitivity or political correctness.
In November 2011, the magazine’s offices were fire-bombed after it published a special edition, supposedly guest-edited by the prophet Muhammad and temporarily renamed “Charia Hebdo”. The cover was a cartoon of Muhammad threatening the readers with “a hundred lashes if you don’t die laughing”.
The petrol bomb attack completely destroyed the Paris offices, the magazine’s website was hacked and staff were subjected to death threats. But that did not deter the magazine, whose editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, has received death threats and lives under police protection.
Six days later, the magazine published a front page depicting a male Charlie Hebdo cartoonist passionately kissing a bearded Muslim man in front of the charred aftermath of the bombing. The headline was: L’Amour plus fort que la haine (Love is stronger than hate).
Less than a year later, the magazine published more cartoons of Muhammad, including images of him naked and a cover showing him being pushed along in a wheelchair by an Orthodox Jew. The French government had appealed to the editors not to go ahead with publication, and shut down embassies, cultural centres and schools in 20 countries out of fear of reprisals when they went ahead anyway.
Riot police were also deployed to the Charlie Hebdo offices to protect it from direct attacks. The foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, publicly criticised the magazine’s actions, asking: “Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour fuel on the fire?”
Gérard Biard, the editor-in-chief, rejected the criticism. “We’re a newspaper that respects French law,” he said “Now, if there’s a law that is different in Kabul or Riyadh, we’re not going to bother ourselves with respecting it.”
The attacks on Charlie Hebdo for its depiction of Muhammad and its consistently defiant response has put the focus on its attitude to Islam in particular, but the magazine’s earlier history reflects a readiness to offend all religions and challenge all taboos.
In 1970, its precursor, Hara-Kiri Hebdo, was banned for publishing a spoof of the reverent French coverage of the death of the former president Charles de Gaulle. To sidestep the ban, the editors renamed the magazine, choosing Charlie Hebdo because there was a monthly comic book in existence called Charlie Mensuel (named in turn after Charlie Brown) and as an irreverent reference to the recently deceased father of the French fifth republic.
The magazine folded in 1981 because of a lack of sales but relaunched in 1992 in its present form.

A brief history of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine at the centre of today's terror attack in Paris.

French magazine takes satire seriously – defying attempts by critics and...