Target: Prime Minister of France Manuel Valls
Goal: Protect freedom of speech after Charlie Hebdo attacks.
In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack, the French government has arrested and prosecuted dozens of people due to their hateful, vulgar, violent, or offensive speech. This is highly hypocritical of the nation, as France and other world leaders participated in a march to support freedom of expression. Now that the attacks are over, authorities are going after those who are supporters of the terrorist attacks or are simply making offensive remarks. Tell Prime Minister Manuel Valls that France must remember its commitment to freedom of speech and expression by signing this petition.
Charlie Hebdo is a satirical newspaper whose cartoonists were known for criticizing religion and other controversial subjects. Terrorists opened fire upon its staff and killed four others at a Jewish supermarket before being taken down by police and security forces. The event shook the entirety of Paris and after the attack many marched in the streets in support of Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech.
However, French authorities are trying to secure the nation by going after those who have supported the terrorist attacks. Sixty-nine arrests have already been made against sympathizers under the anti-terrorism law. Those who “defend” or “incite” terrorism can be sentenced up to five years in prison and be fined up to €45,000. One man was arrested for shouting in the streets, “I am proud to be a Muslim, I do not like Charlie, they were right to do that.” Another drunken man was heard saying to the police, “There should be more Kouachi; I hope you will be next.” While the majority of the arrests made through this law are ones that can be seen as inciting violence, there are cases of merely offensive language.
France needs to be sure not to violate freedom of expression, especially when the city of Paris participated in a march that supported this right. Urge Prime Minister Manual Valls that his nation should be careful of who they arrest and prosecute, as freedom of expression is what allowed Charlie Hebdo to do its work.
Dear Prime Minister Manual Valls,
Your nation suffered a huge loss when the staff of Charlie Hebdo were killed by terrorists. In this attack several other civilians lost their lives at a Jewish supermarket, including a police officer. This event has saddened many, while also spreading fear and animosity through the nation. Those who are of the Islamic faith are being attacked, and those who have expressed words of hatred and violence are being arrested and prosecuted.
It is concerning that those who are expressing their opinions, even if they are offensive ones, are being arrested and punished. France recently participated in a march supporting freedom of speech and it is hypocritical of your nation to go after such opinionated people. I realize that your country is trying to keep everyone safe, but I urge you and your security forces to mind your people’s freedom of speech rights. It will only dishonor the memory of Charlie Hebdo if people with offensive opinions are fined and jailed.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Schlaier via Wikimedia Commons