By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
The power of the cartoon seems to rival that of a division or more of soldiers, an economic boycott, or even a well-funded bribe. It only took one such cartoon to enrage Turkey such a degree that it effectively caused a worsening of diplomatic relations with France. We have to wonder what is more significant in these interesting times: the strength wielded by a free press satire newspaper, or how easily a dictator can be manipulated as a result of his unchecked ego and power.
The row between nations stemmed from a rather risque cover on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper of October 28th, 2020. A caricature depicts a randy, lecherous looking President Erdoğan sitting in his underwear upon an armchair while lifting the hijab of a laughing woman to expose her bare buttocks. The Turk seemingly takes delight in this, saying “Ouuuh! Le prophète!” A caption reads: “Erdogan dans le privé, il est très drôle” (A possible translation is “Erdoğan in the private sector, he is very funny.” )
Turkey and its president released the Kraken of its bureaucracy, prosecutors, and diplomats to counter the Charlie Hebdo cartoon threat, with his Communications Directorate proclaiming, “Our people should have no doubt that all necessary legal and diplomatic steps will be taken against the caricature in question. Our battle against these rude, ill-intentioned and insulting steps will continue until the end with reason but determination.”. Erdoğan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun wrote “Macron’s anti-Muslim agenda is bearing fruit! We condemn this most disgusting effort by this publication to spread its cultural racism and hatred.” Yet not to be outdone or outshined by his own underlings, President Erdoğan was more succinct and measured in his learned analysis, voicing a week ago that French President Macron ‘needed a mental health check’ for his pledging to defend secular values and fight radical Islam, prompting France to recall its ambassador.
Erdoğan could add to that mountain of wisdom by lending an ear to his cohort Saddam Hussein who during trial proceedings memorably orated, “The lion does not care about a monkey laughing at him from a tree.” and just let it go.
Continue reading “Turkey Flips Out Over Charlie Hebdo Cartoon” →
I had the pleasure this month of writing a piece on free speech in the leading policy magazine in Switzerland, “Schweizer Monat.” The piece is published in German (Charlies falsche Freunde or Charlie’s False Friends), which is particularly cool for my son Benjamin who is taking German at McLean High School in Virginia. The German version can be found here. Germany is currently our fifth highest supplier of readers with Switzerland close behind. Ironically, Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein also wrote a piece in the same issue this month. The translated column is below:
Continue reading “CHARLIE’S FALSE FRIENDS” →
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Under the pre-text of combatting terrorism, the European Commission is mulling a proposed regulation that would require telecommunications companies and internet service providers to retain records of European Citizens’ communications. Courts struck down on constitutional privacy grounds a previous law.
The measure comes just after the deadly terrorist attacks stemming from the Charlie Hebdo rampage in Paris in early January. The situation does appear to a lesser degree reminiscent of the changes in government approaches to privacy in the wake of terrorist outrages in other nations such as those in the United States in 2001 and the railway attacks in Spain and the United Kingdom.
Continue reading “European Commission Considering Data Retention Law Targeting Telecoms And Internet Service Providers” →
As many on this blog know, I am a great fan of Pope Francis who has brought an inspiring leadership to the Church that has drawn millions back to the faith. Given that admiration, I was disheartened to read the Pope’s comment on free speech today. I ran a column last weekend on how world leaders are failing over themselves to “Stand With Charlie” after the massacre of editors and staff at Charlie Hebdo magazine. However, the West has been rolling back on free speech rights, including some of these very leaders. Pope Francis added his view this week to those insisting that free speech must have limits when it comes to insulting people about their religion. It is a disappointing observation, particularly when coupled with a rather poor analogy.
Continue reading “Not Charlie: Pope Francis Declares That There Must Be “Limits” To Free Speech In Criticizing Religion” →
This weekend I wrote a column for the Washington Post on the crackdown of free speech in France. The column suggested that, if the French really wanted to honor the dead at Charlie Hebdo, they would rescind the laws used to hound them and threaten them with criminal prosecution for years. (Indeed, at least one surviving journalist expressed contempt for those who now support free speech but remained silent in the face of past efforts to shut down the magazine). Now, however, news reports indicate that the French government is doubling down on criminalizing speech in the name of free speech after the massacre. France has reportedly made dozens of arrests of people who glorify terrorism and engage in hateful or antiSemitic speech.
Continue reading “France Follows Freedom of Speech Rally With Crackdown On Free Speech” →