In fact, the market for electric cars is growing faster than previously thought, as the lithium-ion batteries that power them have become cheaper and more accessible. Electric vehicles are expected to make up 54 percent of the worldwide new car sales by 2040, according to a forecast released Thursday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That’s up from 35 percent projected last year by the data firm in its annual outlook, a serious boost for advocates who say the technology is critical to lowering urban pollution and slowing the rate of climate change.
(ANTIMEDIA) A censored video of the Charlie Hebdo shootings is raising serious questions about the recent terror attack in Paris. In the shockingly non-graphic video below, which is meant to show French police officer Ahmed Merabet being shot in the head, you’ll notice there is no blood, gore or graphic violence. Pay attention to the sidewalk to the right of the officer’s head.
This has provided many with a legitimate reason to doubt the official narrative taking shape around attack. We also know that a forth suspect linked to the terror attacks left France days before the event and is now in Syria according to French police. It is also important to note that it has only been a few days since the shootings and a senior police commissioner in charge of the investigation into the Charlie Hebdo shootings has already ended up dead.
What we do know is that this footage suggests the officer was likely not shot in the head by an AK-47 (a 7.62×39mm round), as claimed by the corporate media. I’m not here to tell you this is some sort of hoax, or what will be happening next. I am asking you to watch the video below with an open mind:
Jordi Mir, the man who filmed the shooting while sitting alone in his apartment, now says that he regrets filming and subsequently posting the video to his Facebook account. Mir removed the video from his social media account 15 minutes after posting, but not before someone grabbed the footage from his account and posted it to YouTube. The amateur cameraman called the his decision to share the video on Facebook a “stupid reflex”.
It appears that the Paris terror attack has bolstered the European right. Massive protests (over 700,000 today) continue to rage across France, while new support for the more militant anti-immigration policies of the National Front rapidly grows. Remember the American government under George W. Bush?
We’ve been told that these professionally trained terrorists left their identification cards in the getaway car before making an effort to conceal their identity by putting on ski masks. How could they be so careless and so well trained, as the media is reporting, at the same time?
All of this becomes very interesting after reading an article published by Newsweek a few days ago about the role Saudi Arabia plays in terrorism and the 28 classified pages of the 9/11 commission report.
The slaying of the Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists because of their work is the grossest attack on the value of free speech, and of course the right to life. In the deadly attack on the magazine’s office, the sword has crushed the pen: an unspeakable outrage.
An attack on liberal values
Any attack motivated by the pen upon that pen’s purveyor, whether he or she be a journalist or academic or author or satirist, is an attack on free speech. And journalists are tragically the victims of persecution, including murder, every year. Since 1992, 731 journalists have been murdered worldwide due to their work, not counting the further 373 killed in crossfire or combat, or while on dangerous assignment.
The murders of journalists tend to take place in countries with a weak rule of law. They are virtually unknown in developed liberal countries such as France. Furthermore, most work-related murder of journalists arises because they bravely speak, or attempt to speak, truth to power.
The motivation behind the Charlie Hebdo murders seems different. The cartoonists were killed, presumably, because the murderers believed its portrayals of Muhammad and Islam were blasphemous. They were killed because they refused to abide by the cultural values of the murderers, who lethally enforced their own views on the societal limits of free speech in France. This led to the outpouring of solidarity and defiance mixed with grief in huge gatherings in Paris and other European capitals.
The right to offend
Charlie Hebdo editor-in-chief Stéphane Charbonnier and his colleagues are now martyrs to free speech and satire, and in particular the right to offend. Leaving aside the obvious point that no-one should be killed because of what they have drawn, how does one characterise the Charlie Hebdo cartoons? Were they cheeky cartoons, wholly within the proper bounds of freedom of speech, or were they the product of “a racist publication”?
There is a human right to free speech, including the right to offend, a right held dear by cartoonists the world over. But there are limits. Of relevance, hate speech is prohibited in international human rights law, including that which is likely to incite hatred on the basis of religion.
The Charlie Hebdo cartoons were generally more likely to offend members of the targeted group than to generate hatred against that group. For example, its depictions of Muhammad and Islam were more likely to offend and hurt Muslims rather than generate hatred by non-Muslims against them. Such speech, to my mind, falls outside the definition of hate speech.
However, some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons seem clearly racist – though racist speech is not always, legally, hate speech. For example, one particular cartoon portrays the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria as greedy welfare recipients. However, this discussion of that cartoon reminds us of the importance of context, which I lack as a non-French speaker who hasn’t read that edition.
The murders were more likely inspired by the images of Muhammad themselves, rather than any Islamophobic cartoons. The depiction of Muhammad, regardless of negative (or positive) connotations, is considered blasphemous and therefore grossly offensive to many Muslims.
However, there is no human right not to be offended on a religious basis. Blasphemy laws themselves are breaches of the human right to freedom of expression. That is not to say that the gratuitous giving of offence to Muslims, or the people of any religion, is desirable. But “desirability” must not be the measure of permissible free speech. And it is dangerous to hold up any religion as something which must be free from ridicule.
Charlie Hebdo deliberately published cartoons which its staff knew would offend some people deeply. It has done so throughout its history of more than four decades, with its targets including the French political and cultural establishment, and religions of all kinds. Islam was not disproportionately targeted.
Clashes between extremist Islam and freedom of speech have been prominent for more than a quarter of a century. Iran’s supreme Ayatollah Khomeini imposed a fatwa on author Salman Rushdie in 1989 over the portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad in The Satanic Verses.
Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered in 2004 in Amsterdam over his film about violence against women in Islamic societies, Submission. In 2010, an episode of the cartoon South Park featuring Muhammad was censored, against the wishes of its creators, in response to death threats.
In late 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten published 12 cartoons which were critical of Islam, including portrayals of Muhammad. The episode led, in early 2006, to protests and riots, particularly in Islamic countries, and death threats against the cartoonists. In 2010, one of the cartoonists, Kurt Westergaard, was attacked in his home with an axe.
In 2006, Charlie Hebdo republished all 12 Danish cartoons, along with some of its own of a similar ilk. It has since published numerous depictions of Muhammad, as well as cartoons ridiculing Islamist extremism and aspects of Muslim life, such as the niqab. Charbonnier was placed on an al-Qaeda hitlist. Al-Qaeda is suspected of involvement in his assassination.
Death threats against material perceived as religiously offensive are not unique to Islam. In October 2014, an exhibition of Catholic iconography using Barbie and Ken dolls was cancelled in Buenos Aires due to death threats.
Australians may remember the 1997 controversy over Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, a photo of a crucifix in a vat of urine, when a Serrano retrospective in Melbourne was cancelled after the work was physically attacked. A Serrano exhibition in Avignon in 2011 closed prematurely after death threats against museum staff.
Protection was supplied to actors in Mel Gibson’s controversial 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, which attracted charges of anti-Semitism.
Outside the realm of religion, in late 2014, persons unknown – though suspected to be the North Korean government – threatened major acts of terrorism if the film The Interview was released. The movie is a comedy which depicts the violent assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Production company Sony caved in to the threat, before reversing its position and authorising an internet and limited theatre release.
Nevertheless, it seems that threats motivated by the offence felt over forms of expression (for example, a book, movie or cartoon) arise more often and more credibly, and with greater lethal consequences, from extremist Islamists.
Republication of the cartoons
A final consideration is the treatment of the cartoons by the media in the aftermath of the killings. While I have argued that the cartoons should not be banned, a separate question is whether the cartoons should be displayed.
Many major media outlets, such as CNN, have refused to show the cartoons, or have shown them with pixelated images. Others, such as Daily Beast, are showcasing some of the magazine’s controversial covers. Outlets in Europe differed. In Denmark, four papers republished Charlie Hebdo cartoons (interestingly, not Jyllans Posten).
In judging the merits of such an editorial decision, context and motive are crucial. Self-censorship out of fear hands a shocking win to the Charlie Hebdo murderers, but I cannot put myself in the shoes of the editor who is genuinely concerned over the safety of staff. Nor can I criticise self-censorship out of respect for the feelings of Muslims (and others).
The tragic demise of the victims does not mean that one has a duty to offend swathes of people who have nothing to do with the atrocity. And many see the cartoons as racist and will not be morally blackmailed “into solidarity with a racist institution”. Hatred of the murders does not have to translate into love of the cartoons.
For others, it is important to show the public what the fuss is about, just as, for example, Wikipedia displays the Danish cartoons. Finally, some media outlets have published the controversial cartoons to reflect the widespread mood of “Je suis Charlie” – that is, to speak defiance to the perpetrators of this atrocity. It is one way, alongside the wonderful tributes drawn by cartoonists in response, of reinforcing the pen, and proving it can never be truly crushed by the sword.
Imams condemn Paris gunmen as ‘barbarians’ but fear stigmatisation could mean they ‘pay a price for the atrocity’
Grenades and gun shots have struck several Islamic targets in France following the murderous attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, police and local media said, raising fears of an Islamophobic backlash among the country’s six million-strong Muslim community.
Three grenades hit a mosque in Le Mans, in the early hours of Thursday while in Aude, southern France, two gunshots were fired at an empty prayer room.
A Muslim family in their car in Vaucluse came briefly under fire but escaped unharmed, and a mosque in Poitiers was daubed with graffitti saying “Death to Arabs”. In Villefranche-sur-Saône, an explosion blew out the windows of a kebab shop next door to the town mosque.
On Thursday a delegation of about 20 imams from France’s Muslim federations visited the Charlie Hebdo offices in the 11th arrondissement of Paris and fiercely condemned the gunmen who killed 12 people, including 10 of the magazine’s staff and two police officers.
Witnesses said the gunmen had shouted “Allahu Akbar” and “we have avenged the prophet” as they left the scene after the murders.
“These men are criminals, barbarians, satans. For me, they are not Muslims,” the imam of the Paris suburb of Drancy, said, addressing the media. “Their hatred, their barbarism, has nothing to do with Islam. We are all French, we are all humans. We must live in respect, tolerance and solidarity.”
Abdallah Zakir, president of the Observatory against Islamophobia, told AFP news agency that he was worried that there would be anti-Muslim events. “We’ve had at least three already, and the day is not yet over. I am afraid that these attacks will only spread in the days to come.”
With the Front National’s triumph in last year’s European elections, the growing concerns over large numbers of French jihadis going to Syria and Iraq, and the succession of divisive controversies over Islam and its place in French society, these were, said Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grande Mosquée de Paris, not easy times to be a French Muslim.
In a recent interview with Psychologies magazine, Boubakeur suggested French Muslims felt that it was “easier for other populations from abroad – that for them the integration machine works better”. He added: “Our community lacks recognition, it feels it is looked upon with too severe an eye … unjustly attacked.”
French Muslims, he said, were condemned to “eternally divided” lives. “That’s true, above all, for the young, who have the impression of being caught between what they feel they are and what French society would like them to become.”
Coming out of lunchtime prayers at the Adda’wa mosque in the shadow of the Paris ring road, at Porte de la Villette, few worshippers wanted to talk. But many of those who did, braving the cold and driving rain, said they feared they would pay a price for the atrocity.
“People just lump all Muslims together,” said Ali, who worked for Paris city hall. “They associate all Muslims with what those fanatics did. But you’ve seen us here: we are normal people, going back to our jobs. Muslims are not all the same.”
French media have reported that the mosque, housed in a bleak collection of temporary huts while it awaits a more permanent building on a site at its former home in the rue Tanger, used to be regularly frequented by the two suspected gunmen, the brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi.
But Ali, who declined to give his full name, said he had gone to the mosque often, for five years at least, and had never seen the pair there.
Another worshipper, Mohammed Aklit, 37, a security guard, said he might have seen the brothers but “years ago, maybe once or twice”.
One man, who refused to be named, said Charlie Hebdo had resorted to publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed – causing uproar in much of the Muslim world – “because they had to sell magazines, they had no money, so that’s they did”. He added: “I reject what happened. But no one should attack the prophet.”
Nourredine, a taxi driver, said the cold-blooded attack on Wednesday at Charlie Hebdo had left him very saddened and angry. It had reminded him of his home country, Algeria, in the 60s and 70s, he said, where “journalists were often the first to be targeted” by extremists.
“But you know, we will become victims of this atrocity,” he said. “There is real stigmatisation in France. I love this country, really I do, but this stigmatisation, this amalgamation, this tarring all Muslims with the same brush – all it does is feed the extremists. It helps the Front National, the people who hate and fear Islam.”
Aklit said he was sure the murders at the magazine’s premises would end up fuelling more hatred of Muslims. “Which is just … wrong. Because my Islam, the Islam of so many of us, is a modern, moderate Islam. It’s about communication, respect, tolerance, understanding.”
The French people, Aklit said, shivering under a large green umbrella, were mature and intelligent. “They won’t swallow just anything. They know when they’re being manipulated. But you know that’s just as well, really, because there are plenty out there who will be trying to manipulate this.”