Place de la Republique vigil. Demotix/Matteo Pellegrinuzzi. All rights reserved.
I am against the death penalty and barbarism. My saddened thoughts go to the partners, children and parents of the 17 persons assassinated in Paris.
I am against the ‘crime of opinion’. We must be free to express any opinion that does not harm human dignity. This does not mean it is necessarily pertinent to deride, insult or humiliate individuals based on their beliefs (especially religious beliefs).
I am against amalgams and collective responsibility or punishment.
I am against hastened and emotive explanations to complex events, which intertwine personal choices and structural factors.
I am against racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
I am against sexism and misogyny.
I am against fundamentalism of any kind: religious, political, economic.
I am against state anticlericalism and militant atheism (because I am against fundamentalism of any kind).
I am against nationalism (from the right or from the left), imperialism, colonialism, the continuation of commercial relations between France and states that attack and colonise their neighbour (such as Israel) or that financially support jihadist groups (such as Qatar or Saudi Arabia).
I am against social and ethnic segregation.
I am against warmongers: capitalism, first and foremost, as capitalist wars have claimed more victims than all religious wars combined.
I am against “national unity”, an ambiguous notion, synonymous with upholding the people’s freedom of expression, and the prelude to infringements on civil liberties. In the coming months, we will need to be vigilant that a Patriot Act à la française is not introduced in the war-like climate. This would only make the enemies of liberty rejoice.
I am for a right to blasphemy, even if it is a virtual right in the framework of a laic republic (despite blasphemy still being an offence in Alsace-Moselle, under the local penal code). Indeed blasphemy can only exist as a legal and political provision in the framework of a theocratic regime.
I am for a secularist society (laïcité) when conceived as a principle of non-domination against minority religions; a laïcité true to the principle of neutrality spelled out in the 1905 law. Everybody’s beliefs are to be respected – which will promote the emergence of a pluralist, inclusive and fraternal French identity.
I am for emancipatory humour: self-deprecating, compassionate with the oppressed and ruthless against the powerful.
I am for leaving believers in peace. Believers are individuals like any other, neither superior, nor inferior to atheists or agnostics.
I am for letting individuals live their lives as they see fit. The State and political and religious organisations need to stop giving wardrobe guidance to women. They should let women wear dresses (long or short), trousers and hijabs in school, at work, in the street or at home as they please, and they should stop trying to dispute freely made choices or to constrain them.
I am for a social republic; one made of equals and defined by solidarity. I am tired of hearing the political elites constantly invoke the values of the republic and repeat an endless sermon on its principles. This perverted version of the republic – dominant in France – is an empty and deceptive discourse; it is never accompanied by truly emancipatory measures in favour of the socially and culturally oppressed.
I am for describing today’s France as it is: multicultural, multilingual and multiethnic. We need to stop pretending we are still in 1920s France.
I am for celebrating the French melting pot, a source of social, cultural and economic dynamism.
I am for internationalism and fraternity among peoples.
I am for tolerance and respecting difference: societies that scorn these values cannot build a common future. Ignorance and fear of the other lead to tension and chronic disunion, invariably strengthening the demagogues and extremists.
I am for a world of equals: I therefore demand nothing less than justice for all.
Translated by David Krivanek