Francois Hollande Lends Strong Support To Charlie Hebdo Even As France Rounds Up 54 People For Inciting Racism

French President Francois Hollande lent his support to the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. President Hollande insisted that the magazine and the values it stands for will survive, despite the gruesome and barbaric attack by terrorists.

“Charlie Hebdo is alive and will live on You can murder men and women but you can never kill their ideas.”

Within just a week, the magazine, which has courted controversies on numerous occasions and against multiple religions, released its latest issue that sold out within a few minutes. The magazine, which has had a traditional run of just 60,000, had to increase production twice – from one million to three million to five million – to keep up with the rise in demand as citizens of France stand by the magazine.

Francois Hollande’s reassuring words, which included the magazine been “reborn” after the attack, might be the perfect shot-in-the-arm for a magazine that has been bravely fending off criticism by the Muslim communities the world over for its cartoons depicting their prophets in “bad taste.” Interestingly, despite the gruesome attack that left 12 people dead, including a policeman who happened to be Muslim, Charlie Hebdo chose to take the high road with its latest caricature of the prophet.

The latest issues shows the alleged prophet crying, while holding up a sign that reads, “I am Charlie” and a tagline below the headline reads, “All is forgiven.” Needless to say, #IamCharlie or its original French translation #JeSuisCharlie has been garnering strong momentum online as well as on the streets, as millions mourned and condemned the barbaric act of violence against a magazine whose only weapons were pen and paper.

Though Francois Hollande and France in general seem to be upholding the right to free speech for Charlie Hebdo, there seems a darker, hypocritical movement underway. French authorities on Wednesday detained and charged a notorious comedian, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, for “glorifying terrorism.” Since last week’s attacks, at least 54 people have faced similar charges — including several juvenile pranksters and drunken oafs who were mouthing off.

Apart from the arrests, France, under the President Hollande’s leadership, seems to have given more teeth to the anti-terrorism law passed last year to expedite their cases and issue harsher jail sentences. The Justice Ministry has also issued fresh orders for prosecutors to crack down on “anti-Semitic and racist acts or speech.”

Even while Francois Hollande seems strongly inclined to ensure Charlie Hebdo keeps churning out cartoons in the name of “freedom of speech,” many in France fear the country maybe in danger of trouncing the very right it is aiming to protect.

[Image Credit | Benoit Tessier/Reuters, Twitter]