French government encouraged Charlie Hebdo prosecution
Charlie Hebdo editor Philippe Val reveals in an Op Ed in the Wall Street Journal that the recent suit against his satirical magazine was actively encouraged by the French government.
Before he published the offending issue Val was summoned to see the prime minister’s chief of staff at a Paris hotel. He refused to go, and went ahead with the issue in spite of an attempted block by Muslim organisations.
After the cartoons appeared, the Muslim groups attacked me by filing suit against me on racism charges. President Jacques Chirac, who campaigned for this just-completed trial, offered them the services of his own personal lawyer, Francis Szpiner. Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Grand Mosque, who always took orders from the Élysée, was apparently not convinced this case was necessary; he told me as much several times. But Mr. Boubakeur was under pressure from the fundamentalists at the UOIF (Union of Islamic Organizations of France), who had come to dominate the French Council of Muslim Worship, which he heads, and Mr. Chirac. Why? Only he knows. We can only guess. Probably to nurture his friendships in the Middle East and win arms contracts for France, while at home playing to Muslim public opinion that’s supposedly in thrall to fundamentalism.
The French government’s extraordinary behaviour contrasts starkly with the outspoken cross-party support the satirical magazine received during the trial last month.
The judgement is due this afternoon.