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POLITICS: Amnesty International concerned over post-Charlie Hebdo crackdown

It's such a tired cliche to refer to Kafka when politics goes awry. I find myself hoping I won't have to do it. And yet nothing else will do.

(Kafka2 by Evjones on

In its defense of free speech, the French government has extended its powers against "l'Apologie du terrorisme" (terrorist apologetics) to jail anyone whose public statements are deemed terroristic, on the spot. In the past two weeks, over 50 sentences have been handed out, and countless arrests made on these grounds, many to teenagers, small children (see #Ahmed8ans posts on Twitter) and people under the influence of heavy drugs or being medicated for severe mental health conditions.

The Guardian has finally decided to report on this, citing statements from Amnesty International and an eminent French human rights group called La Ligue des Droits de l'Homme deploring the situation.

Today's statement from LDH reads: "It is plain that our security is not improved by restricting the free speech of adults, or the interrogation of 8 year olds by the police force", concluding "It is now time for all to calm down. This should be the government's job, and it should remind itself that the struggle against terror cannot work unless the letter and the spirit of the laws are upheld"

Why on earth international media have turned a blind eye to this tragic process of Terreur in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo protests in early January, is puzzling to me. At best, major media outlets in the UK are just to superficial to bother to follow up these news stories, or to read what is trending on Twitter in the French-speaking world. At worst, they are colluding with a government which has capitalised on the population's fears and insecurities after a dreadful terrorist attack in order to flex its muscles and clamp down on anyone who looks or sounds like a dissenter.

Whatever the 4 million protesters had in mind when they protested against the killing of cartoonists, this can't be it. A country which combines blasphemy laws with blatant overreaction and forceful arrest or jailing of evidently vulnerable or loudmouth citizens is not a free republic.

I have supported secularism in the wake of dangerous Islamist agendas, and will continue to do so on this blog and elsewhere. But this is not rule of law or free speech. It's the use of secularism to create a police state, which no secularist in France can or should abide.


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