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France: What you can't say post-terror attacks

Sophie Inge · 29 Jan 2015, 17:31

Published: 29 Jan 2015 17:13 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Jan 2015 17:31 GMT+01:00

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On Thursday a schoolboy of just eight years old was taken in for police questioning for allegedly expressing support for the terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo. 

The child triggered concern when he refused to take part in a minute's silence at his school in the southern city of Nice after Islamist gunmen shot dead 12 people at the Paris offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 7th. The boy's teacher said the child also expressed "solidarity" with the gunmen.

Although, according to a tweet posted by the schoolboy’s lawyer the boy did not even know what terrorism was when asked by police.

The child is the youngest of several investigated for supporting terrorism since the shootings earlier this month.

Just one week after the Islamist attacks left 17 dead, France’s justice ministry said that 54 cases had been opened for “condoning terrorism”.

Over the same period, some 15 cases were opened over graffiti on mosques, and ten for degrading Muslim places of worship "with weapons, fire or explosions".

In the most high profile case since the attacks, the controversial French comic Dieudonné was arrested after he left a post on Facebook apparently sympathizing with one of the gunmen from the terror attacks.

"Tonight, as far as I'm concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly," he wrote, mixing the popular slogan "Je Suis Charlie" used in homage to the journalists killed at magazine Charlie Hebdo, with a reference to gunman Amedy Coulibaly who killed four Jews at a Kosher supermarket.

The remark was condemned by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve as "contemptible" during a visit to the heart of Paris' Jewish community, and Dieudonné later removed it from his Facebook page.

As well as Facebook, the social network Twitter has also played host to expressions of support for the terrorists., with several tweets featuring the hashtag #JeSuisKouachi (I am Kouachi) circulating in support of brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi who killed 12 at the Charlie Hebdo offices.

One said in English: “No matter how good your General is, you just can not win against people who desire death as you desire life.” While another tweeted, in French: “I am a Muslim and Kouachi represents me.”

The tweets sparked fury among users of the social network, with several calling for the website to block the hashtag.

As well as the eight-year-old questioned this week, other school children have also sparked concern, with several reportedly interrupting the minute of silence held for the victims of the terror attacks.

Out of the 70 incidents that were recorded, the words of a 15-year-old schoolgirl who interrupted the homage are perhaps the most disturbing.

“They succeeded, I’m proud of them and their killings, they’re my brothers”.

Another 16-year-old is recorded as shouting jihadi threats against all “whites”.  

Meanwhile in Toulouse, southern France, three men between the ages of 20 and 25 received ten-month jail terms after they applauded the murder of 17 people during last week’s attacks.

Story continues below…

“The Kouachi brothers are only the first ones, I should have been with them so we could have killed more people,” one of the accused was reported as telling tramway security in the city in southern France.

In another case, a young man in Orleans was handed a six-month jail sentence and ordered to pay €200 in compensation to four police officers for shouting "Long live the Kalashnikov" at a group of police officers in the city, despite claiming to be drunk at the time.

France's Humans Rights League has criticised the government and the courts for jailing those who spoke out often "rashly".

“Now judges are sending people to prison for rash things they said, either when they were drunk or something they uttered just to be provocative," the organisation's Agnes Tricoire told The Local.

“But who are these people they are jailing? Drunks, people with mental health problems. It’s ridiculous. This is not the way to deal with 'glorifying terrorism'.

“It’s not by sending them to prison that we’ll stop young people from wanting to be provocative."

Sophie Inge (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

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