Zineb el-Rhazoui: The Crime Against Charlie Hebdo Will Remain Unpunished

The French writer Zineb el-Rhazoui was born in Morocco and apostatized from Islam when she was young. She was a staff writer for Charlie Hebdo at the time of the jihad massacre in 2015, but she was visiting Morocco when the attack occurred, and thus escaped her colleagues’ fate.

In the following video from a French TV panel, Ms. El-Rhazoui brings up a point about Islamic terror attacks that I hadn’t considered before: in most cases, from the point of view of the survivors and victims’ families, justice is not seen to be done. No satisfaction is to be gained from seeing the old suspensus per collum, or the firing squad, or the electric chair, or the needle in the arm, or even the handing down of a life sentence in a court of law. In almost all cases the perpetrators, being determined to claim their martyrdom, are gunned down during an exchange of fire with police or soldiers.

All the survivors ever get is a low-res video of a mujahid falling down in the street and then being surrounded by police. And then they get to read news reports that the alleged perpetrator was allegedly killed, and see interviews in which the killer’s relatives insist that he was innocent, and that the police murdered him. No judge or jury ever hands down a verdict of “guilty”.

As Zineb el-Rhazoui points out, this leaves the survivors and families without a sense of closure. Justice is not seen to be done.

Note: The publication of a new book by Michel Houellebecq is mentioned in this clip; see this Time article for more information.

Many thanks to Ava Lon for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

00:00   Zineb El-Rhazoui has been living under police protection since the attack against Charlie Hebdo,
00:04   [the magazine whose team] she was part of. And since Friday and her comments about Islam
00:08   which must — in her opinion — submit to criticism and to humor,
00:12   she became the target of a wave of hate. She is our guest tonight.
00:16   The woman of the day.
00:20   Good evening! —Good evening, Zineb El-Rhazoui, former journalist for Charlie Hebdo,
00:24   a militant for secularity. Last Friday you were at the TV studio of CNews.
00:28   The debate was about the Strasbourg attack, the question: “How to fight
00:33   against Islamist terrorism, and the efficiency
00:37   of the de-radicalization”, and this is what you said:
00:41   Do you know what content is being taught nowadays by the de-radicalization associations?
00:45   They tell the radicalized ones that Islam is a religion of peace and love and it has nothing to do…
00:49   and that you shouldn’t criticize, that you shouldn’t say bad things about the prophet.
00:52   How do you want to de-radicalize that way? You need to confront those people ideologically.
00:55   You need to tell them: what you think here is nonsense, it’s not good!
01:01   Islam has to submit to criticism, submit to humor,
01:05   submit to the law of the Republic, submit to the French law.
01:09   We cannot overcome this ideology by telling people that Islam
01:14   is a religion of peace and love and it’s only terrorism that is bad.
01:18   Islam has to submit to criticism and to the law of the Republic,
01:22   you said, like all the religions, and you also said “like all the cults”.
01:26   A cult? Like all the ideologies and all the cults? Islam is also a cult?
01:30   You know what they say, sorry… —A glass of water…
01:34   They say. — Those things happen, do regain your voice
01:38   And you’ll tell us what happened after
01:43   this interview. But first, Islam…
01:47   Some think that the religion is a cult that succeeded.
01:51   It doesn’t matter, the technicality of what a religion is.
01:55   Anyway, religions are part of the history of ideas.
01:59   Ideas can be criticized. You see, even this
02:03   common way of telling you: “No, no careful,
02:07   you have to respect Islam!” But why would I respect it? I do respect Muslims.
02:11   Individuals who deserve respect, who respect me and who
02:15   behave in a respectful way. But Islam is an ideology;
02:19   it’s an idea; it’s something that shouldn’t be above criticism.
02:24   And I should be able to ask as well if this ideology
02:28   respects also human rights, if it respects me
02:32   as a woman, as a female atheist, as a free thinker,
02:36   Do you do understand, despite everything, that there are citizens,
02:40   sincere believers, who say, when hearing
02:44   this criticism against Islam — when you make this type of criticism,
02:48   with this tone — “It’s us that you are attacking.”?
02:52   First of all, those sincere, believing citizens aren’t the ones
02:56   who are attacking me on social media. — No, we’ll get there. — It’s not those
03:00   who make death threats. To the sincere, believing citizens I say this:
03:04   you know, we are lucky to live in the French Republic,
03:08   Democratic and secular, which has a law called the ‘1905 law’
03:13   about the separation of Church and State, of State and ChurchES.
03:17   And this law is the best guarantee of freedom of conscience,
03:21   of the free exercise of religion as long as it doesn’t disturb the public order.
03:25   I grew up in a Islamic theocracy, meaning in a country,
03:29   where Islam is the state religion — in Morocco — and I can tell you that
03:33   there’s no freedom of religion there, you have no right to think what you want, you have no right
03:37   to convert to another religion; and you could be subject to
03:41   not only a public lynching because of that, but also a legal punishment,
03:46   totally legal, applied by the state. —And this ISN’T [even]
03:50   (there we’re talking about Morocco) the country where the religion
03:54   is most strict — THE most strict. And there, I would like to add to the attention
03:58   of those people who are believers, and who are the sincere believers, that
04:02   if we weren’t in a secular republic, well, they would perhaps be forced
04:06   to pay a tithe to the Catholic state, for having the right to exercise their religion
04:10   as Muslims. And it’s thanks to this secularism that we are all equal in our rights and duties,
04:14   despite of our beliefs. —This however DOES happen in one part of the country because of
04:19   the Concordat, but that’s a different subject. What happened after the interview?
04:22   Well, what happened after the interview,
04:25   it was a buzz, let’s say, on social media,
04:31   something that was blown out of proportion, and a wave,
04:35   a wave of very clear death threats: “She deserves a bullet between her eyes”,
04:39   “She should have her throat slit”, “She should be raped”,
04:43   “She deserves that men come and…”, things of extreme vulgarity —Coming from whom?
04:47   A lot of insults… —Identified, or is it anonymous, as it’s often the case online?
04:51   When I say those things, I say them with my head high in the TV studio.
04:55   Everybody knows my name and everybody knows my face. Those who say
05:00   that I should be assassinated are usually people who hide behind nicknames,
05:04   behind their screens, in an absolute cowardice, and voilà, that’s already
05:08   something that should be mentioned. —You are always very protected, Zineb.
05:12   I’ve been protected since January 8, 2015, so soon it will be four years.
05:16   The protection for me isn’t damnation in itself,
05:20   because I have to remind you that this protection is a public service in France,
05:24   which is offered by French state, and that I’m fortunate to benefit from this
05:28   protection, which our colleagues [journalists], who say the same things
05:32   in other countries, are not offered. And still they say it.
05:36   January 7, 2015, it was obviously the attack against Charlie Hebdo
05:41   which you escaped. Have things calmed down ever since, since almost four years ago?
05:45   No, you can see very well they have not, and it’s definitely extremely sad.
05:49   I am extremely sad to see that four years after Charlie Hebdo we are still there.
05:53   And we are there because of comments, which — I’m very sorry —
05:57   we are millions who think that the Islamic religion, like the rest
06:01   of religions and ideas, should be subjected to criticism, to the law
06:05   and —why not? — to humor. So there were years in France where we weren’t threatened
06:10   with death for having said that. We had to go through Charlie Hebdo, meaning
06:14   to go through this horrible crime, which will remain unpunished: there has still been
06:18   no trial. We, as the civil plaintiffs for Charlie; we had no trial,
06:22   we don’t feel that justice has been served, concerning this abominable crime,
06:26   which mowed down our friends and colleagues, and four years later we are still there
06:30   having to hide, to walk around with armed men,
06:34   for having said something legal and… —Do you think that there could be a trial?
06:38   Who are you talking about? Are there accomplices, who… —Listen, the trial
06:42   instruction of the Charlie Hebdo trial was closed, the Kouachis
06:46   having been killed before the trial; in the eyes of justice they are innocent.
06:50   The trial which will take place is a trial where there will be
06:55   questions about whether there was a conspiracy to commit crime and which are
06:59   not… well, we won’t truly see a trial which will answer
07:03   to our expectations as the civil party. — A little wink
07:07   to Charlie — and it’s just a smiling parenthesis — four years after
07:11   the “submission”, Houellebecq is going to publish a new book,
07:15   so there’s a notice for Charlie, I don’t know if you saw it on the last page:
07:19   “Cowards of Hebdo, the next book by Houellebecq, will be published on January 4. We will avoid
07:23   badmouthing it; last time it didn’t really work out that well. it wasn’t really a success.” It does
07:27   make you smile… There aren’t only threats, look at the tweet by Taha Bouhafs; it’s a militant
07:32   for Insoumis. It’s one of those who filmed the exploits of Benalla [Macron’s bodyguard]
07:35   at Contrescarpe Square. “Relax, cousin, go take some Tylenol.” ‘Cousin’; what does that mean?
07:40   It means you are part of the community? —Cousin [female] it’s an expression
07:44   of the French Arab [slang for Arabs] low lifes, I would say, in order to designate themselves…
07:48   it’s a ghetto expression which they wouldn’t have used to describe someone
07:52   who wasn’t originally Arab. So I would like to tell him, first of all: I’m not your cousin; second:
07:56   this contemptuous, ghettoized tweet, that I would also call misogynist,
08:01   it’s something that is for me really the essence
08:05   of the ‘indigenistic’ [new word in French] thought represented by this gentleman, and I insist here
08:09   to give back to him all the contempt that his tweet wakes in me. —Indigenistic, therefore it’s
08:13   that also a part of those who are combating you? —The indigenists are the door-openers
08:17   for the Islamists. Yes, the indigenists are the first ones, who re-introduce biology
08:21   into the public debate in France. Those are people who use words like: “to racialize”.
08:25   You see? I don’t know who they mean by “a racialized person”. Those are people who think that there
08:30   are perpetual victims and perpetrators, by their DNA, by their genes.
08:34   And this really is a dangerous thought, and in the name of a victim —The racialized people are
08:37   in their eyes those who are victims of racism because of their origins and the color of their skin.
08:42   But, you know we aren’t necessarily victims of racism in France,
08:46   because of the color of our skin. I would like to say,
08:50   as a French person originally with a non-French name,
08:54   at least in the opinion of Monsieur [Eric] Zemmour, but anyway I feel fully French.
08:58   I would like to say that you need to stop crying: “racism!” all the time.
09:03   I find that France has no lesson of anti-racism to receive
09:07   coming from the ghettoized, people who aren’t looking for the common well-being
09:11   but only their own well-being in that community. We are a country
09:15   where the number of mixed marriages is extremely high. We have extraordinary anti-racist laws,
09:19   possibly the best in the world. It has to be emphasized , you have to say
09:23   that it’s good. And me, anyway, as someone who grew up in Morocco and who
09:27   has a foreign name, I feel fully French, I feel very well here, and I never
09:31   heard this many racist insults in my entire life than from all those people
09:35   who defend Islam and who tell me: you [racial slur: backward immigrant from Maghreb!]
09:39   You dirty [slur for N Africans], go back to your country, you insult Islam!” I’ve never insulted
09:43   anything. I would like to point that out. “But you deserve death, you dirty [slur] with your
09:48   sh***y accent. Go back home!” Nobody has ever talked to me like that in France ,except for
09:52   people who are victimizing themselves, and who say such things under the pretext that
09:56   they are perpetual victims of racism. —But you also receive many messages and
10:00   tweets of support, so you think that there’s an impunity,
10:04   a complacence towards those, whom you are denouncing ?
10:08   Of course. Those people are a minority, a minority, a tiny minority,
10:12   who completely cut themselves from the national community. They don’t feel
10:17   that they are our countrymen; they feel that they have a sort of hegemonic duty.
10:21   Incidentally this is what pushes them to act this way. They tell themselves: “She’s crazy!
10:25   But we aren’t submitting to nothing! We are only submitting to Allah!
10:29   And the entire planet has to submit to Allah!” So they don’t understand what I’m talking about
10:33   when I say that you need to submit to French law. So those people, yes, effectively
10:37   there’s impunity, because we have always looked for excuses for them.
10:41   When they act like that, we say: “Yes, but you know they are victims”,
10:46   “It’s the fault of society!” Personally I disavow this part of the Left,
10:50   and I do define myself as a woman of the Left, I disavow this part of the Left,
10:54   Which is really always finding excuses for them. — You are talking about
10:58   the indigenists, or the terrorists? —I’m talking about all those who convey
11:02   the divisive thought, a ghettoist thought,
11:06   and this thought has several levels: it goes from a death threat to
11:10   a guy who says, “Shut up, cousin, go and take a Tylenol.” What I would like to tell them
11:14   is that I consider our countrymen of Muslim origins
11:19   as my equals. I don’t expect less from them than
11:23   what I’m expecting from you and what I’m expecting from all of us here. I expect them to respect
11:27   the law, to behave well, with politeness, and I’m NOT finding excuses for them
11:31   when they utter death threats. There’s no excuse for that, and incidentally I stopped
11:35   a long time ago looking for excuses for those who are doing the terrorism apology.
11:39   Thank you very much, Zineb El-Rhazoui, for coming tonight
11:43   to speak this strongly and courageously in the studio of C’est à vous.

5 thoughts on “Zineb el-Rhazoui: The Crime Against Charlie Hebdo Will Remain Unpunished

  1. A good brave woman ,who needs protection 24/7 because the people in the French government do not realize the size and scope of the “Islamic” problem. Giving people who follow Islam a free pass to not act up to the levels of following the law and socially normal non-violent behavior non-Moslems have to follow in France.

  2. What Zinab is saying is that the debate never shifts to Islam itself. Islam is protected from criticism by convention and by tolerating threats towards those who are critical. This would be the case whether the murderers were put on trial or not.

    But, notice in Zinab’s statement, she implicitly assumes that being leftist herself gives her more authority to speak. This is part of the assumption that who you are, rather than the reasoning you give, lends authority to your view point.

    Leftists have a sizable contingent of people who are completely impervious to facts and reasoning, and a few, like Zinab, who begin to accept the validity of individual responsibility. This is antithetical to the left, and the person with these views will eventually bail out of identification with the left.

    Another leftist assumption is that people claiming asylum ought to be admitted as refugees. This is like taking small doses of poison: eventually, the effects become irreversible and will kill you, even if you change your mind before you die about taking more doses.

    So they don’t understand what I’m talking about
    when I say that you need to submit to French law. So those people, yes, effectively
    there’s impunity, because we have always looked for excuses for them.
    When they act like that, we say: “Yes, but you know they are victims”,
    “It’s the fault of society!” Personally I disavow this part of the Left,
    and I do define myself as a woman of the Left
    , I disavow this part of the Left,
    Which is really always finding excuses for them.

  3. This reminds me of the problems with trying to educate young people about communism: a) There were no equivalents of the trials of Nazi (and Japanese) war criminals for communists, except perhaps in Cambodia (we await the eventual resolutions in Cuba and N Korea);
    b) So far as I understand it, the teaching of C20th history these days covers the evils of fascism, but not communism.

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