Free speech and its others…again

It was not by making yourself heard, but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage.

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).

And so then, the inevitable blog post on this month’s heinous terrorist attacks on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the subsequent attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, France, in which a total of sixteen people lost their lives. First of all – the obvious – namely that there is not and cannot be any excuses for the affront to our common humanity that people of whatever background or creed commit in massacring people in cold blood on the grounds of what they have written, drawn or said, or in the case of the last terrorist attack, on the grounds of their simply being Jewish. Today’s salafi-jihadism represents a real threat to the lives of all Europeans regardless of faith and background and we neglect it at our peril. These attacks have certainly occasioned much more spilling of ink in mainstream media than the daily doses of violence and terror in Pakistan or in Nigeria. 

Western military interventions in the Arab world have for a long time now produced its fair share of what Teju Cole in a fine commentary in the New Yorker referred to as ‘unmournable bodies’ and the notion the fact that these bodies are unmourned by ‘us’ is hardly something that passes without notice in an increasingly intertwined world.

A simple fact bears repeating however: there are far more Muslims than non-Muslims losing their lives from salafi-jihadist terror globally, and this fact tells us that salafi-jihadism is a common threat to us all. A world in which we grieve for the loss of innocent lives regardless of their creed or background is hardly conceivable, and perhaps not even desirable, inasmuch as people who are closer to ourselves will inevitably appear as more grievable to us. Yet in the absence of the hashtag #Je suis nigériene, Judith Butler’s basic question ‘When is Life Grievable?’  still lingers, and should give us pause to ponder the hierarchy of grievability and suffering which constitute our present world.

The dead cannot speak, and so the assigning of motives for these heinous terrorist attacks in and of itself inevitably imposes an ex-post facto and highly ad hoc interpretation of the events – much as Talal Asad points out in his reflections on Palestinian suicide bombers.

We know that the assassins were what one has come to expect of young male Muslims attracted to the moronic creed of salafi-jihadism: marginalized, disgruntled young men with a background in crime, drugs and a very superficial grounding in Islam. A British newspaper columnist asked the right question when posing the question as to whether their grievance might not had all that much to do with cartoons in the first place, and whether the ‘media framing’ of this as being more or less exclusively about cartoons and free speech did not play directly into the hands of the terrorists and the generalized polarization what they wanted to achieve.

‘Haters gonna hate’, goes the adamen, and for these assassins, there appeared to be much to hate in France, and one might venture the qualified guess that to attack the offices of Charlie Hebdo was as much as a pre-text as attacking any other French symbol loaded with much liberal and secular weight. But if they were haters in search of a pre-text for their hate, we will have to assume that if it is proven correct that these terrorist attacks were directed by handlers linked to AQIP or al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula from the badlands of Yemen, their handlers knew very well what they were doing in attacking the offices of Charlie Hebdo, and had a reasonably good idea about the ripples it would send throughout the Western news media. For as Talal Asad presciently indicated in his reflections on the Rushdie affair, first published in 1990, there is perhaps nothing that is quite as sacred as freedom of expression in late modern liberal and secular cultures. Furthermore, as John Durham Peters has remarked, people who make their living from exercising their right to free expression – whether it be media people, artists, academics or writers – are by virtue of their profession more attached to and invested in the mythos inherent in the ‘free speech story’ than anyone else.

And so it was hardly surprising to any Norwegian media consumer that a great many liberal media editors and publishers in the heat of the ensuing days after the terror attacks would reach for their megaphones and mouth simplistic slogans like never before. Never one known to miss an opportunity to say something about anything at all on all media platforms, Aftenposten’s political editor and 24/7 talking head Harald Stanghelle opined that what was at stake now was nothing less than ‘the most fundamental part of the values of Western civilization’, namely ‘the right to laugh at power.’ Note here the terms, which leaps off the Huntingtonian pages like leaves.

Some dissenters may of course reply that though Western liberal media editors like Stanghelle have long been convinced that the actually engage in ‘laughing at power’ when publishing cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, and are absolutely right that ‘Islam’ – however construed and conceived – does represent power in today’s world with its estimated 1.2 billion adherents, it can hardly be said to be universally accepted among the Muslims in Europe who are presently for the most part a relatively powerless and stigmatized minority that ‘laughing at power’ is really what is at stake here.

For it is a relatively simple analytical point to make that cartoons of the prophet are in the present world a proverbial ‘fluid signifier’ which serve multiple functions: they may laugh at power (‘Islam’) and the powerless (‘Muslims’) at the very same time and in the very same act. A point by chance made brilliantly by Dagsavisen’s commentator Hege Ulstein some days later.

But let me be clear about the fact that I, for one, have long been of the firm conviction that the law in any society should protect individuals, not groups, and people, not their gods.

From the respected chair of the Norwegian PEN Association, the erstwhile publisher of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses William Nygaard, we would hear that this was ‘freedom of expression’s September 11’, from the Fritt Ord Foundation’s director, the former op-ed and cultural affairs editor Knut O. Åmås at Aftenposten, we would hear that the Charlie Hebdo attacks meant nothing less than that we were now faced with the choice of “choosing freedom or choosing it away.”

Given that most people grow past the kind of satire that Charlie Hebdo represented by the time they have reached their late teens, one might venture the qualified guess here that Enlightenment philosophers would be more than a little amused at the thought that representatives of hegemonic liberal elites a few centuries down the line would argue in all seriousness and in public that the very future of Western and European civilization hung in the balance due to the cold-blooded and heinous murders of cartoonists.  Not to mention the slain cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo who throughout their existence seemed to be sufficiently anarchistic (not to say Communist, as appears to have been the case of their chief editor Stephane Chabdonnier or ‘Charb’) to revel in caricaturing such liberal pieties and rhetorical grandstanding too. In a lucid and insightful commentary, Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker remarked that Charlie Hebdo was really a one-of-a-kind publication and not comparable to any satirical magazine outside of France in working in a “peculiarly French and savage tradition” and “being forged in a long nineteenth-century guerilla war between Republicans, the church and the monarchy.”  But people who have been brutally murdered cannot speak, least of all when they are rendered into free speech martyrs and symbols for liberal universalism. In a particularly inapt choice of terms, Åmås – either by design or accident – also managed to refer to Anders Behring Breivik’s terror attacks at Government Headquarters in Oslo and at Utøya on July 22 2011 – in which seventy-nine people, unarmed and defenseless teenagers attending a social democratic youth camp, as an ‘anti-jihadist’ attack. Now, anyone who knows anything about Behring Breivik and his ideological fellow travelers on the extreme right will know by now that this is one of their own terms of preference, which Åmås had now somehow managed to assimilate. It is a terminology and a language which suggests that extreme right-wing formations in present Europe are but a reaction to contemporary salafi-jihadism, a claim which given the long historical genealogies of the extreme right-wing formations in Europe unfortunately doesn’t stand up to scrutiny at all.  Åmås opined that Norwegian and European news media had been ‘cowardly’ in not taking cue from Flemming Rose and Jyllands-Posten and re-printing the 2005 cartoons in bulk, and were ‘cowardly’ in not rushing to re-print Charlie Hebdo cartoons now.

Some past and present Norwegian media editors went even further: In perhaps the most preposterous statements by any Norwegian media editors in this round, Hilde Sandvik of the influential regional newspaper Bergens Tidende and Per Edgar Kokkvold, the recently retired secretary-general of the influential Norwegian Press Association (Norges Presseforbund) alleged in interviews with Klassekampen on January 10 2015 that “if more media had printed the Muhammed cartoons in 2005, the attack in Paris would not have happened.”

That’s not only suggestive of a lack of elementary knowledge about matters of causality in history but represents an awful lot of editorial complicity if not co-responsibility to take in, not only nationally, but also globally, inasmuch as the overwhelming majority of newspapers in Europe, the USA and elsewhere in the world quite matter- of- factly opted not to print the Danish cartoons in 2005-06. Sandvik and Kokkvold’s statements were of course not only directed at the past, but also to the future: implicit was the contention that Norwegian media editors who now failed to beat their chests and ‘stand up for free speech’ by a knee-jerk re-publication of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons stood to be indicted, if not legally then morally, by no lesser figures than Sandvik and Kokkvold. This is free speech absolutism as a proverbial zero-sum game, in which you are either with or against ‘us’ (the free speech absolutists) and either for or against free speech as such.

To assert that this is both Manichean and reductionist would of course be putting it mildly.

But then again, this author is probably but another ‘French cheese-eating surrender monkey’ in the Manichean and reductionist world a certain brand of secular liberals, right-wing extremists and salafi-jihadists seem all to inhabit these days. In her first editorial comment on the Charlie Hebdo attack, Hilde Sandvik had declared grandiosely in the pages of Bergens Tidende that “On Wednesday, Europe changed.” That commentary came replete with ‘clash of civilization’- analogies between the threat of Nazism in the 1940s and salafi-jihadism today. It is of course impertinent of me to point this out, but at the height of the Nazi German Occupation in Norway from 1940-45, there were some 370 000 German soldiers stationed in Norway, whereas the number of salafi-jihadist sympathizers in Norway’s Muslim population is estimated around a hundred individuals. But then again, a sense of proportion is not what libertarian free speech absolutists in the Norwegian media trade in these days. Their confessions to having moments of ‘moral clarity’ and to be living in ‘exceptional times’ is all too often attended by calls for exceptional measures. Or ‘counter-violence’ as the returning liberal warrior, back from his momentary disorientation after having first declared wholehearted support for the US- led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and then having discovered some hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis later that Iraq didn’t quite turn out as the shining ‘beacon of hope and democracy in the Arab world’ which had been promised (ISIS anyone?), George Packer – put it in the pages of the New Yorker.

It is of course any terrorists’ wet dream that one should think in exactly those terms, and suspend reason, complexities, ambiguities and pragmatism – and pave the way to a legal exceptionalism in the name of security along the lines of say, Carl Schmitt or John Yoo.

To understand where that kind of thinking is likely to lead one in the contemporary world in terms of human rights abuses and infringements on civil liberties pursued as an intrinsic part of the legal exceptionalism ushered in by the war on terror, one needs to look no further than the recent Senate Report into CIA Torture under President George W. Bush II.

Those who have not completely overdosed on Steven Pinker’s fairly optimistic teleological assessment of the past and future of human nature and violence will of course know that political terror on the European continent represents nothing new under the sun. We have been here before (the Rote Armee Fraktion, Brigade Rosso, P-82 anyone?) and in the case of France, the dark week which started with the Charlie Hebdo attacks and ended with the massacre of Jewish shoppers at a supermarket in Paris, was the worst in France’s history since French right-wing extremists organized in the OAS (Organisation de l’armée secrète) who felt betrayed by President Charles de Gaulle’s tacit and long-overdue abandonment of the idea of  ‘l’Algérie Française’ in the form of the Evian Agreements in 1962 which ended the brutal and dirty settler-colonial war in Algeria from 1954 to 1962 and lead to Algerian independence engaged in a series of assassinations and bombings in Algeria and France in the 1960s. They might also know that one of the festering sores for the French-Algerians who populate the banlieues around Paris is the lack of official French recognition of the terrors inflicted by the French state on Algerians during the war in Algeria, as well as of the terror of French police lead by the erstwhile Vichy police officer Maurice Papon in massacring hundreds of unarmed French-Algerian supporters of the FNL in the streets of Paris in 1961.  

Fortunately, most media editors in Norway are a bit saner and have a keener sense of ordinary common sense than this, and so the dividing lines in the Norwegian media editors’ corps from 2005-06 were to a large extent repeated. Whilst Dagbladet and Bergens Tidende, two newspapers which under its present editors have a discernable libertarian and free speech absolutist bent, rushed to re-publish a number of Charlie Hebdo cartoons, whilst the state broadcaster NRK broadcast a number of facsimiles in its various news and debate items, as did the intellectual weekly Morgenbladet. On the whole however, mainstream liberal media editors in Norway expressed the view that whilst they would insist on retaining the right to re-publish cartoons of this kind in the future as a matter of principle, they saw little point and purpose in so doing in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices, and retained the right to exercising editorial prudence.

This stance is of course reminiscent of the view that the late Ronald Dworkin (if anything, a libertarian free speech absolutist himself) expressed in the course of the cartoon crisis in 2005-06, namely that a formal right to publish something doesn’t entail a compulsion to do so, and that the right to editorial discretion on this matters may on balance not be so bad after all.

And so the ‘day of solidarity’ with the victims of the salafi-jihadist terrorist assassins striking at Charlie Hebdo’s offices entailing a bulk publication of Charlie Hebdo’s offices that Timothy Garton Ash and many other libertarian free speech absolutists had called for failed to materialize – to their great regret.

And it might of course be that the fact that Garton Ash and his fellow travelers among secular liberals once more finds themselves in a complex world of endless ambiguities in which mainstream media editors fail to act as Pavlovian dogs is after all a preferable world to live in for us all.

Back in the 1990s, the philosopher and New York Times columnist Stanley Fish could still declare that ‘there is no such thing as free speech – and it’s a good thing too’. Woe betide anyone saying so today, but deep down, all libertarian free speech absolutists know the fact that absolutely free speech has never existed, doesn’t exact and will not ever exist in any society on earth. The French know this too: On the instructions of cabinet ministers, French police reacted to the terrorist attacks by clamping down on salafi-jihadist and anti-semitic hate speech (and much else besides) like never before.

There was as a matter of course hardly any reaction from Norwegian libertarian free speech absolutist to any of this though. Many Western media commentators with scant knowledge about the publication seem to have assumed that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists were equally ‘provocative’ towards all minorities in France and their respective gods and prophets. That isn’t really the case, since we know that the cartoonist  Maurice Sinet was fired from Charlie Hebdo for penning an arguably anti-semitic column in 2008.

And we also know that Jyllands-Posten’s Flemming Rose was told to go on sick leave as a matter of urgency by his chief editor back in 2006, when he in the aftermath of the cartoon crisis reacted to taunts from people linked to the Iranian regime by declaring his readiness to publish anti-semitic and Holocaust-denying cartoons.

Personally, I find this reservation understandable in light of modern European history’s by far darkest chapter, the Holocaust or Shoah, and the uses to which anti-semitic cartoons were put in Nazi propaganda in Germany and elsewhere in Europe in the 1920s and 30s. But it does demonstrate that different standards apply to different minorities in liberal hegemonic elites in Western Europe these days, and that these different standards all things considered, remain a fundamental problem for the claims made in the name of the ever illusionary liberal universality.

There wasn’t an awful lot to cheer about in official Muslim reactions to the terrorist attacks in Paris either. On the day of the massacre at Charlie Hebdo’s offices, the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK managed to darken an already extremely dark and depressive day by assigning the role of ‘Muslim representative’ to the bearded and autodidact Salafi by the name of Fahad Qureshi of the Salafi youth organization IslamNet. For a long time only too happy to be granted the right and privilege to talk at length on behalf of ‘all Muslims’ not only in Norway – but also around the world – in Norwegian media, Qureshi managed the extraordinary feat of asserting that ‘all Muslims’ around the world were equally provoked by cartoons of the Prophet. How on earth an autodidact leader of a Salafi  youth organization which takes its cues from the darkly ultra-conservative and often surreally otherwordly online Salafi scholars in Saudi Arabia and sports an estimated 2000 members in Norway manages the extraordinary feat of registering the views of some 1.2 billion Muslims across the world is anyone’s guess (telepathy, perhaps?), but the claim is also in light of much academic research demonstrably false.

Taking his charms even further, Qureshi went on to tear up pages of Charlie Hebdo during a live interview with the private TV channel TV2 some days later.

There is a time for everything, and Mehtab Afshar of the Sunni-dominated mainstream Islamic umbrella organization Islamic Council of Norway (IRN), failed to heed that adamen when trying to talk about Islamophobia in Norway on NRK news broadcasts at a time when all that was required was the simple and unequivocal condemnation of the attacks – which he and the IRN also issued. There was much terminological confusion and othering to be found in media reporting on the terrorist attacks and their aftermath: Introducing an item from an NRK correpondent in France who had been ordered to take the metro to the nearest banlieue outside Paris, a female NRK anchor managed to assert that French citizens of the third or even the fourth generation inhabiting these urban zones of desolation and deprivation were simply ‘Arabs’.

Now, if we pull back a while from the world of liberal media editors and their daily decisions about what to print and what not to print, some of the official reactions in Norway were of interest. Quite predictably, the populist right-wing Progress Party (PP), in a coalition government in Norway since October 2013 wasted no time in grandstanding as champions of free speech. As many media commentators quickly pointed out, the grandstanding was a bit rich coming as it did from cabinet ministers such as Minister of Justice Anders Anundsen (PP), who upon coming into a ministerial post was discovered to have recently posted images of himself burning copies of his local newspaper and advocating a consumer boycott of the paper in question for its indecency in covering a corruption scandal in which some of his local PP colleagues in the town of Tønsberg had been embroiled. And coming from a party which had by the means of telephone calls and none-too-subtle economic threats as late as in December 2014 forced Scandinavian Airline Systems (SAS) to pulp hundreds of thousands of copies of its in-flight magazine Scandinavian Traveller due to its then most recent issue featuring an article written by a Swedish editor which placed the Progress Party on a historical timeline in which Norwegian and Scandinavian extreme right-wing individuals – including the in Norway and internationally not completely unknown Nazi collaborator and traitor to the nation Vidkun Quisling – also featured.

Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende of the Conservative Party, who has a background as an MP, secretary-general of the Norwegian Red Cross and a senior executive at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland had apparently adopted the George W. Bush II. answering machine after al-Qaida’s terrorist attacks on the USA on September 11 2001, and kept repeating the sound bite that ‘this had nothing to do with Islam’ over and over again in statements to Norwegian news media after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Which would of course be fine, were it not for the fact that among the relatively few Norwegian salafi-jihadists (linked to the salafi-jihadist outfit which goes under the name of ‘The Prophet’s Ummah’, established ca. 2010, which according to the Norwegian Police Security Services (PST) has inspired a substantial number of young Norwegian Muslims to go for ‘jihad’ in Syria since 2012, where some have been reported to have been killed whilst serving as jihadis in the ranks of first Jabhat al-Nusra and then later ISIS) who publicly endorsed the attacks on Charlie Hebdo were individuals citing the classical Hanbali scholar ‘ibn Taymiyya. As anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of contemporary Salafism will know, ‘ibn Taymiyya, a precursor of the thought of ibn al-Wahhab, is if anything among the classical scholars most revered by contemporary Salafis – whether peaceful or violent.

And ‘ibn Taymiyya – whether one likes it or not – does in fact take rather a dim view of the right to life of anyone caught ‘denigrating’ the Prophet. As does – co-incidentally – the state-sanctioned and supported Salafis who man what passes for a ‘legal system’ in Saudi Arabia – represented in what The Economist would rather fittingly describe as ‘a pageant of hypocrisy’ in the streets of Paris on the first Sunday after the attacks.

The Saudi Arabian prince-ambassador to France was not the only hypocrite around at a time when the Saudis were starting the first of a thousand public lashings of a self-declared ‘liberal’ Saudi blogger named Raif Badawi who had been convicted of – well – er – exercising his right to free speech in a Saudi Arabia – or as that sort of thing is generally known  in Saudi courts – ‘insulting Islam.’

There was also the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, a senior deputy of a brutal and murderous – but alas – Western-supported military dictatorship led by President-General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi whose security forces would less than two weeks later kill an unarmed Egyptian mother of two, Shaimaa al-Shabagh (32) carrying roses in central Cairo in order to commemorate the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak and his neo-liberal cronies and fellow embezzlers in 2011, who have now by and large been restored in power. There was the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, whose ‘moderate Islamist’ AKP-regime ranks high among the chief imprisoners of media staff in the present world.

And there was an Israeli delegation, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his extreme right-wing compatriots Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett who well, er, do not believe much in free speech or any other rights for Israeli Arabs or Palestinians, come to think of it.

And so the riposte  ‘this hasn’t got anything to do with Islam’ – comfortable and comforting though it may well be – simply will not do. For eminent scholars such as Prof Khaled Abou El Fadl, Ebrahim Moosa, Bruce Lincoln and Bruce Lawrence have long made it clear to us that texts and rulings which may be used to legitimate violence and terror do in fact form a part of the Islamic exegetical tradition and canon, and that part of the common intellectual task these days is to confront this very fact – also in Islamic grounds. This is not in any way to suggest that this in and of itself would make all the difference with regard to the attraction that angry, marginalized young Muslim men like Saïd and Chérif Kouachi and Amédy Coulibaly,  who all appear to have been  on- and- off Muslims doing drugs, drinking alchol engaging in various forms of crime and engaging in a little bit of fornication or zina from time to time before turning into would-be-assassins inspired by inter alia the documentation of US occupying forces’ copious human rights abuses in Iraq after the invasion of 2003 to salafi-jihadism.  Terrorists often have multiple axes to grind, and so the warning that Louise Richardson made in with regard to reducing terror to mono-causality still stands. But dealing squarely and honestly with the intellectual challenge that the multiple crises – social, economic, political and intellectual – the ‘Muslim world’ and particularly the Muslim world’s Arab heartlands are currently undergoing- of which the rise and appeal of the moronic creed of salafi-jihadism is but a symptom – might in fact make salafi-jihadism a less attractive option, and the contemporary world an easier place to live in for ordinary and peaceful Muslims as well as non-Muslims.

“To try to understand is already to excuse”, declared the then Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy in the context of the banlieue riots in France in 2005 which on the basis of the accidental electrocution of three North and West African teenagers being chased by police in the Parisian banlieue of Clichy-Sois-Bois led to urban riots in 300 different areas in France, the burning of 10,000 cars, 5000 arrests and hundreds of millions of franc in damage to property. These were riots which Sarkozy himself had contributed to exacerbating by referring to residents of the banlieues as ‘racaille’ (‘scum’) which he would ‘clean’ the streets of with the use of ‘Kärchers’. As Andrew Hussey has noted ‘this was a language of war’ not new to the French state whether past and present in the face of North Africans and/or Muslims.

And as such, it plays directly into the festering and lingering sore of French-Arab relations and its starkly differentiated and polarizing memories among the French citizenry as explored by inter alia Paul Silverstein and Todd Sheppard. The banlieues are areas of ‘profound social deprivation’ argues Jim Wolfreys in a recent article. That racism and discrimination may have something to do with this can hardly be doubted: University graduates of North African background in France are according to Wolfreys five times more likely to be unemployed than the national average.

That the police and by extension many of the organs of the French state are seen as an oppressor and an enemy by many youth in these banlieues will not be news to anyone familiar with the fine ethnographic work of Didier Fassin on urban policing in Paris either.

And so the Norwegian newspaper Dag & Tid’s front page after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, which cited the French revolutionary slogans ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ set in red letters on a black background evidenced a profound distortion of lived empirical realities for people of minority background in contemporary France, for whom these words more often than not represent mere slogans with little substantial meaning. The French Interior Minister Manuel Valls from the Socialist Party admitted as much when after the terrorist attacks he had the courage and integrity to speak about the ‘apartheid’ that has long existed among French citizens.

“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”, wrote Ludwig Wittgenstein in 1921.

To raise these questions now, and to insist on the need to keep at least two thoughts in one’s head at the same is of course for people who would rather frame this as an issue which is only about and can only be about free speech and its others, is of course to open oneself to accusations of ‘defeatism’. But insisting on complexity when others call for simplicity is after all the task of any critical social scientist worth his or her salt.

‘Les extrêmes se touchent’ goes a French proverb. And so if there is anything at all we can be sure of, it is that these attacks is a long-term boon for extremists on all sides, and that the twinned and intertwined threat of the ‘plague on both our houses’ in the form of right-wing extremism and salafi-jihadism is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future. Maintaining a cool head and a warm heart in these dark times might be the foremost challenge.  Rather than beating our chests in an endlessly proud and unilateral defense of ‘free speech’, shouting simplistic slogans through media megaphones and declaring a ‘clash of civilization’ with ordinary and peaceful citizens who may not always share ‘our’ views of free speech to the same extent that ‘we’ do, we might take a lead from the cartoonist Joe Sacco, mourn the dead, and continue to ask ourselves the fundamental question as to how we – non-Muslims and Muslims – ‘fit into each other’s frame’ – and will do in the future.




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