A year after the Charlie Hebdo attack, France is still in denial | Natalie Nougayrede

The good news, as France marks the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, is that one year on, and even amid renewed tensions in Paris with the shooting dead of a man wielding a knife and wailing Allahu Akbar outside a police station on Thursday, the publication itself is still up and running, its provocative streak intact. The front cover-up of its latest edition has a draw of God as a Kalashnikov-toting figure with bloodstained limbs. Above him, the words: A year on, the assassin is still at large. Nothing could be more in tune with the anti-religion, starkly atheist and free-thinking heritage of printed publications whose anarchist, post-1 968 identity has often been hard to convey outside France satire doesnt travel easily. The latest image surely annoyed Catholic groups, with the Vaticans newspaper Osservatore Romano lashing out at its disrespect for believers whatever their faith. This is a reminder of the contrast reactions that followed the two attacks a year ago, when widespread solidarity with Charlie Hebdo was also met with scepticism or even hatred towards its supposedly over-provocative stances not to mention the misleading or ill-informed claims that the publication is prejudiced against Arabs or Muslims. But the big difference now is that this anniversary comes on the heels of the 13 November attacks in Paris, which shed petroleum light on the nature of violent jihadism and defined France on an official war footing, transforming the political and legislative scene in fretting styles. While some were tempted, a year ago, to in effect lay blamed on Charlie Hebdo for having intersected the boundaries of common decency in publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, that kind of caveat became impossible to utter after attackers opened fire and detonated explosive belts on just about anyone: people sitting at cafe terraces, spectators at a boulder concert, or passers-by near a football stadium. If, on 7 January 2015, freedom of expression was targeted, on 13 November, that could hardly be the main explain. Nor could religious sensitivities be is moving forward as a motivation. Patently, something more wide-ranging was at work: a peril for all , not just for cartoonists.

Hollande warns of ongoing threat one year after Charlie Hebdo assault video

Yet this should have been obvious much earlier on. First, the outpouring of emotion over Charlie Hebdo decreased the importance of the other victims of the January attacks: the cold-blooded assassination of policemen( on 7 and 8 January) and the hostage-taking and killing of four people in a kosher supermarket. In fact, key elements of a pluralistic, rule-based, democratic liberal order had come under flame: representatives of the press, of law enforcement, and members of a minority whose security has, historically in Europe, been the canary in the mine for other liberties. Second, the January attacks were quickly followed by another assault, this time in Copenhagen. On 15 February, a gunman opened fire at a cultural centre in the Danish capital, where an event on art, freedom of expression and blasphemy was being held, and later, he targeted the central synagogue( he killed two people that evening, before being shot dead ). This was a clear sign that France was not the only country in Europe confronting a new wave of violent Islamist fanaticism. It was also a signal that qualms about Frances secular model, or the problems with the consolidation of its immigrant populations, should be put into a larger context. This is not to say there isnt a specific French aspect to what unfolded in 2015, from Charlie Hebdo to 13 November, and in their aftermath. France has since done a lot of navel-gazing about how the republican model copings with radicalisation. One pleasing aspect of the reaction surely was the spontaneous demonstrations of unity and solidarity: the rallying calls to democracy and tolerance that resonated abroad and filled many French people with pride. The nation had not disintegrated and its values seemed to shine. But the much less pleasing aspects have been the rushed towards new legislation that puts some civil liberty at risk, and plans to rewrite the constitution not exactly signs of democratic stability. Add to that the nearly 7m referendums won by the far-right Front National in December, and it becomes obvious that dark clouds have also collected. The most worrying development has been talk of a country at war vocabulary without parallel in other European nations. Although he has rightly designated Islamic State as the enemy, Francois Hollande has failed to show that he has come to terms with the fact that almost all of the perpetrators of the 2015 attacks were French citizens. The assaults may have been planned in Raqqa or in Yemen, but they were carried out by what the French call children of immigration. This was arguably a traumatic years biggest shock. Perhaps the burying of heads in the sand by the ruling upper-class is a result of Frances official country indifference to religion or ethnicity, but it is more likely that no one in government has discovered the words to address such a sensitive subject without fuelling extreme opinions. The war is in the Countries of the middle east but should not be within France. This should be said more clearly it is an omission that stands out particularly in a week when a taboo-breaking publishing is being honoured for its heroism. As Albert Camus once said: Misnaming things adds to the calamities of the world. Read more: www.theguardian.com

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