By Yossi Schwartz, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 20 October 2020, www.thecommunists.net
Samuel Paty was killed on Friday in France by an individual terrorist act after he had shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his students during a civics class. He was aware of the fact that by doing so he deeply offended the religious feeling of the Moslems in a country where Islamophobia is high. He did what the magazine Charlie Hebdo did in 2015, when this right-wing magazine published caricatures of the prophet Mohammad.
His executer, 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov, was killed by the police 600 meter from the school.
We revolutionary Marxists do not support the method of individual terror but we do not see the bigot Samuel Paty as any kind of am innocent martyr of free speech.
The reason we do not support individual terrorism even against a member of the ruling capitalist government, not to speak of a bigot teacher was explained long ago by Trotsky.
“In our eyes, individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to their powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes towards a great avenger and liberator who some day will come and accomplish his mission. The anarchist prophets of the ‘propaganda of the deed’ can argue all they want about the elevating and stimulating influence of terrorist acts on the masses. Theoretical considerations and political experience prove otherwise. The more ‘effective’ the terrorist acts, the greater their impact, the more they reduce the interest of the masses in self-organization and self-education. But the smoke from the confusion clears away, the panic disappears, the successor of the murdered minister makes his appearance, life again settles into the old rut, the wheel of capitalist exploitation turns as before; only the police repression grows more savage and brazen. And as a result, in place of the kindled hopes and artificially aroused excitement comes disillusionment and apathy.” (1)
President Emmanuel Macron said the attack bore all the hallmarks of an "Islamist terrorist attack". (2) He claimed that the teacher had been murdered because he "taught freedom of expression." (3)
The French government, that has used the Covid-19 to suppress social and democratic rights, has used this killing to mobilize against the French Moslem population as scapegoats. It not only called to support what they call “freedom of speech” and to pay tribute to the teacher who was beheaded near Paris for presenting caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, but openly joined the demonstrations in support of Samuel Paty. France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex joined demonstrators on Sunday who rallied together across the country in tribute to this bigot. Some demonstrators held placards reading “I am Samuel” that echoed the “I am Charlie” after the racist newspaper Charlie Hebdo. (4)
The police arrested relatives of Abdullakh Anzorov and other Moslems among them a man who called for the dismissal of the teacher for inciting hatred against Moslems.
The ruling political circle is among the last one to speak about terrorism. During the Algerian struggle for independence the French Army killed more than one million Algerians which was state terrorism.
In 1920-21, the Syrian anti- imperialist movement fought for the independence of Syria. In the summer of 1921 the French army burned down villages where support for the rebels was strong.
"In Vietnam through torture, executions, and incarceration the French committed genocide during the Indochina War. There is not enough information to even estimate a minimum. We can however count the Vietnamese killed when a French heavy cruiser shelled the civilian areas of Haiphong and killed more than 6000 civilians." (5)
"When the French colonised the region at the turn of the 19th century, Tuareg Muslims mounted fierce resistance, winning some decisive battles, but in the end, had to accept the superiority of France’s weaponry." (6)
"Finally on 3 March 1917, a large French force dispatched from Zinder relieved the Agadez garrison, and began to seize the rebel towns. Large scale French reprisals were taken against these towns, especially against local marabouts, even though many were neither Tuareg nor supported the rebellion. Summary public executions by the French in Agadez and Ingal alone totaled 130." (7)
In 2013, imperialist France began its occupation of Mali. Already in 2013, the progressive journalist Glenn Greenwald commented in The Guardian about French terrorism in Mali: “Western bombing of Muslims in yet another country will obviously provoke even more anti-western sentiment, the fuel of terrorism.” As the Guardian reports, French fighter jets in Mali have killed at least 11 civilians including three children. France's long history of colonialization in Mali only exacerbates the inevitable anger.” (8)
Since then we can read every few days that the French army has killed, by what they call “a mistake”, Mali civilians including children. Yet according to the French government in a typical imperialist hypocrisy, the French army is fighting against Moslem terrorists. In reality, the French army tries to repress those who oppose France control of Mali.
As to the right of free speech and freedom of expression, while we support the right of the free speech, it is used many times by the capitalist media to distort reality. There is a limit. We do not defend the right to express hate propaganda against the working class and the oppressed. We call to smash the fascists, even more so when they are still relatively small in numbers. Those who claim that insulting the deep religious feelings of the Moslems should say openly that they support the right of the Nazi propaganda that used Anti-Semites caricatures like of Der Stuermer that incited hatred against the Jews. (9)
In fact, those who say that Paty was a great defender of freedom of speech, whether they understand it or not, are defending the right of the Nazis to publish anti-Jewish caricatures.
1) Leon Trotsky Why Marxists Oppose Individual Terrorism (November 1911)
3) BBC France teacher attack: Rallies held to honor beheaded Samuel Paty
4) Associated Press: France’s prime minister joins mass demonstrations over beheading of teacher Samuel Paty October 18 2020, https://apnews.com/article/lyon-toulouse-lille-paris-france-e19a06d2f534302992aca77e4c75f6ea
5) World History Biz: The Haiphong Incident, 14-06-2015
8) Glenn Greenwald: The bombing of Mali highlights all the lessons of western intervention, The Guardian, 14 January 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/14/mali-france-bombing-intervention-libya
RCIT Articles on the Racist Magazine Charlie Hebdo:
RCIT: France after the Attacks in Paris: Defend the Muslim People against Imperialist Wars, Chauvinist Hatemongering, and State Repression! 9.1.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/statement-paris-attacks/
Michael Pröbsting: France: “Communist” Party fails to Vote in Parliament against Imperialist War in Iraq! 15.1.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/french-pcf-iraq-war/
Michael Pröbsting: After the Paris Attack: Socialists must Join Hands with Muslim People Against Imperialism and Racism! Reformist and Centrist Forces try to derail the Workers Movement by Failing to Stand up for Solidarity with the Muslims and Against Imperialist War-Mongering! 17.1.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/france-defend-muslims/
Michael Pröbsting: The Racist Character of Charlie Hebdo and the pro-imperialist campaign “Je Suis Charlie”. Solidarity with Muslim People! NOT Solidarity with Charlie Hebdo! 17.1.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/racist-charlie-hebdo/
RCIT Articles on the French Aggression in Mali:
Down with French Neo-Colonialism in West Africa! Protest against the imperialist “Operation Barkhane” / “Coalition for the Sahel”! Joint Statement of Anti-Imperialist and Socialist Organisations, 12 February 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/joint-statement-down-with-french-neo-colonialism-in-west-africa/
RCIT: Expel French Imperialism from West Africa! Macron and his G5 Lackeys plan to intensify their colonialist “Operation Barkhane”, 15 January 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/expel-french-imperialism-from-west-africa/
RCIT: French Imperialism Lick its Wounds. 13 French soldiers died in Mali during colonialist combat mission, 29 November 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/mali-french-imperialism-lick-its-wounds/