Anorak News | Free speech no buts: Buzzfeed writer says Charlie Hebdo dead are not victims

Free speech no buts: Buzzfeed writer says Charlie Hebdo dead are not victims

by | 8th, January 2015



Now that 12 people are dead the liberals can return to the view that free speech is free with no ‘buts’? The Twitter narks that call the police on anyone saying things they don’t like, police persecuting people for saying the unsayable online and a State-approved license for journalists are all horrific assaults on our free thinking.

Shame it took a massacre in France to remind liberals that freedom to think is also freedom to offend.

Take Buzzfeed’s Siraj Datoo. In 2012, he wrote on Charlie Hebdo and those Mohammed cartoons:

Charlie Hebdo did, and always should, have the right to publish such images. The freedom of the expression is fundamental in a democratic liberal society and each individual must be allowed to express their opinions in a peaceful and democratic way.

And then came the ‘but’…

So what’s my problem with the editorial team at Charlie Hebdo?

My primary concern is that satirical newspapers are meant to criticise or pick at certain issues following incidents….

Instead of tackling a serious issue, the publication of the cartoons is clearly a provocation and demanded a reaction. The editorial team of Charlie Hebdo need to understand that with such freedom (of the press) comes responsibility. Even I know that, and I’m just the editor-in-chief of an online magazine…

Wow. You can only lampoon an approved set of things. Is there a list?

But that was nothing. In 2011, he wrote for Muslim News:

Can satire and Islamism co-exist? This was the question posed on the MailOnline’s comment website, Right Minds, shortly after the firebombing of the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly), a satirical French magazine in Paris.

Ha-ha. That question is a work of genius. It’s a parody, right?

…the attack on the satirical weekly was inexcusable and freedom of the press is an extremely important value to defend – and this is also the attitude taken by head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, Mohammed Moussaoui. What is most striking is that this attack occurred before the paper had even reached the public – the perpetrators had not even seen what the issue consisted of before they threw Molotov cocktails.

This brings us to a yet a more important point. The reason that Charlie Hebdo was already being talked about – and possibly (at the time of writing the culprits remain unknown) why its headquarters were set ablaze – was because the editors had already revealed details of this “special edition” to the media.

That was why?

The newspaper had effectively informed the public what the paper was going to contain before it was published, rather a strange move for a newspaper. Unless, of course, their aim was to provoke.

Death by marketing!

I love freedom BUT…

Freedom of the press allows newspapers to put across their own viewpoint, criticise the government and Charlie Hebdo is meant to be a weekly that satirises the latest political events.

That’s the list of approved subjects for mocking.

For a satire, it missed one crucial element; the paper is just not funny…

Those Islamist nuts with guns are tough critics. Who knew they were such comedy buffs?

If this was a theatre, the phrase used to describe the paper would be “all sparkle and no dazzle”. The issue is simply an attempt to mock perceived Islamic values, rather than to make a serious point and this is demonstrated further in their other comic skits, with a special feature insulting the idea of the niqab and ridicules the idea that neither Tunisia nor Libya can be democratic if they are lead by Islamic governments. Essentially, the jokes are poor and a little dreary.

It would be ok if Datoo found it funny? Keeping pace with the censors is hard if the ground keeps shifting.

Now Charlie Hebdo has started to act the martyr. They re-published the same issue in the name of freedom of expression and started to whinge when they no longer could moderate the comments on their Facebook page…

The list. You never saw the list!

And then he puts this to his readers:

This anarchist paper prides itself on its ability to make humorous commentary on political issues yet this special issue lacked hilarity and instead has continued the right-wing Islamophobic trend that has been sweeping the country in recent years. Without even reflecting on the niqab ban earlier this year and the ban on wearing the hijab in public schools, the Government last year went so far as sponsoring debates around the country about the role of Islam in French society, all in the name of secularism. For too long have French governments been targeting Muslims as part of their sinister right-wing agenda to gain more votes. Perhaps the political leaders should now be asking whether they have indeed gone too far with their attack on Islam and should instead be concentrating on real matters that affect the nation, such as the fact that their unemployment rate is an astounding 9.9%.

Blame the victim?

(And for what it’s worth, a nation that bans an item of clothing has lost the plot. Consenting adults should wear what they like.)

But that was then. Siraj Datoo is now a political reporter at BuzzFeed. And we are all now in favour of free speech. With no ‘buts’. So. He tweets:


Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 12.13.46


But, hey. Let’s not make the martyrs of the slaughter of cartoonists and anyone who expresses an opinion you don’t agree with.


Posted: 8th, January 2015 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink