Dear Neighbors to the North, The deadline for this column was on Sunday, January 11th, the day one million French people took to the streets in Paris. They did so to vent their grief over the terrorist acts that had taken place in the Parisian streets.
The procession of demonstrators was led by French President François Hollande, followed by other leading French politicians, foreign heads of state, government leaders and ambassadors of quite a lot of countries.
The march in Paris was all about (in) tolerance, solidarity, freedom of speech, democratic values, and against racism and discrimination. In short, everything people in Belgium, The Netherlands and most other European countries have fought for, sometimes to the death. These democratic values and principles, including equality, regardless of sexual preference, etc., are continuously labeled as the core values of our democracy. And rightly so.
The European leaders and French politicians talk of nothing else. That freedom of speech and press are the highest good, could be heard everywhere after the attack on “Charlie Hebdo.” But shortly after, it became clear that the Front National (FN), the extreme-right party of Marine Le Pen that won more than thirty percent of the seats in the last local elections in France, was not welcome at the manifestation. The freedom of speech does not seem to include the FN.
The situation became even more absurd when a list was announced with the foreign heads of state and government leaders to march side by side with François Hollande. Without naming names, it was a mishmash of several anti-Semitic Arab leaders, prime ministers / foreign affairs ministers and ambassadors of countries in which journalists are sent to prison at the drop of a hat, a pack of African dictators of countries where homosexuals are jailed, and ambassadors to countries that are sponsoring international Islamic terrorism.
These people walked side by side with a limited group of European leaders and representatives of countries were democratic values and gay rights are guaranteed. There were representatives marching from countries were gay rights and universal human rights are violated from morning until noon.
But this is not a problem for the French government nor the French press. “We have to be above it, for it is not important in this moment,” can be heard if some critical television journalist mentions this at a manifestation. Well, if it is not important now, when will it be? When a homosexual is murdered in France? Only then?
I’m sure that in less than an hour after the march in Paris, a journalist is sent to prison in one of the represented countries. An adulterous woman is stoned to death. A homosexual is hanged with a long drop. It is not a problem for the French press and politicians. Vive la République!