Strike at Radio France hits its third week

Radio France enters today into its 21st day of consecutive strike action. This is a record length, with no precedent established in Radio France’s 40 year history. The majority of employes on strike are technicians, although some journalists have also chosen to strike.

The French state is the unique shareholder in Radio France, and although it doesn’t officially name its Director General, Radio France is under its ‘tutelle’, which means that Radio France is essentially a ward of the government. Radio France operates seven networks, which, although bastions of French journalism and culture, have steadily been loosing listeners over the years. Radio France also has a large deficit, which could reach up to €50m in 2019, and which the government has ordered it to reduce by 2017. A recent BBC article, written by Hugh Schofield, pointed out that between 2004 to 2013, spending went up by 27.5% at Radio France, even though there was no rise in audience.

This strike by Radio France’s employes is the result of two different controversial issues. The first is the austerity measures recently announced by the Director General, Mathieu Gallet, which include the disbanding of one of the two orchestras housed by Radio France, and about 380 proposed redundancies. The other issue was first reported on by Le Canard Enchainé, which is the French equivalent of Private Eye. Gallet has recently had his office renovated, the cost of which is rumoured to be at €105,000 (which Gallet insists had already been incorporated into last year’s budget), all fronted by the tax payer, and which has suscited fury at Radio France, given that at the sale time he is proposing austerity measures. He is also supposed to have recently hired an image consultant at the cost of €90,000.

The relationship between Gallet, Radio France’s employes, and the unions is currently extremely frosty. The unions have accused Gallet of using Radio France’s audio platforms to publicly address the controversy surrounding his office and the proposed austerity measures, but of refusing to directly engage in negotiations with them.

The unions have asked the Minister for Culture, Fleur Pellerin, to act as a mediator between Gallet and Radio France, but so far, apart from giving her opinion that although it was crucial that Gallet re-establish a dialogue with the unions, she believed him capable of resolving the situation, Pellerin has been reluctant to wade into the debate. According to Le Monde, this is because the government is very wary of being accused of intervening too much into the affairs of what is supposed to be an independent broadcaster (despite the fact that it is wholly owned by the French State).

The Director General of Radio France is appointed by the Conseil Supérieur Audiovisuel,which is a regulatory body that is supposedly independent from the State. The unions have also asked it to intervene, but it has declined to do so, saying that that didn’t fall under its mandate of responsibilities, and pushing the onus onto the government to act as mediator.

Gallet is unusual in many ways as the Director General of Radio France. Firstly, he is only 37 years old, and secondly, he didn’t go to the École Nationale d’Administration, the grande école which produces most of the Director Generals at companies where the State owns or holds most of the shares. Many have said that the shake ups that he is proposing at Radio France are no surprise, as he was employed by the Minister of Culture under Nicolas Sarkozy, that famous hardliner.

The reluctance on the part of the government to get too involved may also stem from the fact that some reforms are, for the most part, probably inevitable. As Hugh Schofield, the BBC’s Paris correspondent put it, the danger of this three week strike is that in an age of 24 hour news channels, listeners may massively defect to Radio France’s private competitors.

A brief look at what salaries look like at the moment in France and the UK

Hier Le Monde a publié un article qui traite un thème intéressant, notamment le niveau de salaires en France, que j’ai envie d’étudier.

Bien qu’il y ait eu récemment quelques signes de croissance dans l’économie française, les français sont toujours inquiets par rapport à la situation actuelle de l’économie et l’éventualité d’une hausse du pouvoir d’achat, qui paraît toujours un peu illusoire.

Néanmoins, l’article du Monde met en évidence le fait qu’en dépit de cette prognostique négative, le salaire moyen du secteur privé avance en France, et cela malgré un taux de chômage à 10%. En effet, depuis le début de la crise, le salaire moyen en France n’a pas connu une baisse. Cela va en contre des recommandations de la Medef, qui suggère qu’il serait «…plus pertinent de privilégier la création d’emploi ou l’investissement…plutôt que la hausse des salaires».

Toutefois, ce sont normalement les salaires plus hauts qui connaissent des progressions. Une autre statistique intéressante relevée de cet article est que les français qui font le plus d’économies sont aussi ceux qui gagnent le plus bien leur vie. Il semblerait donc que ceux qui sont déjà aisés sont ceux qui connaissent des hausses de salaire – ce qui ne va pas forcément faire augmenter le pouvoir d’achat.

Il est intéressant d’analyser cet article en pensant notamment à un article publié par The Telegraph en février. L’article a rapporté des remarques faits par David Cameron à l’égard des salaires britanniques. Selon Cameron, il est grand temps que les patrons britanniques accordent une hausse de salaire à leur salariés. Cameron a également dit que la reprise de l’économie britannique ne devrait pas être uniquement mesuré par la santé des entreprises, mais aussi par des comptes personnels en bonne santé et un pouvoir d’achat qui monte. A’heure où l’inflation et en baisse, et qu’il coûte moins cher de faire croître des entreprises, Cameron s’est dit «confiant» que  cela se traduirait par des hausses des salaires.

Cependant, un article récent du Guardian a fait savoir que post crise, les salaires britanniques ont continué de connaître une baisse, particulièrement chez les jeunes. Le parti travailliste accuse le Premier Ministre d’avoir provoqué, avec l’implémentation des mesures d’austérité, une crise de qualité de vie en Grande Bretagne qui ne cesse de s’empirer, tandis que le parti conservateur riposte en classant le parti travailliste «anti-business» et «anti-croissance».  

Deux situations différentes qui servent à bien montrer les différentes politiques poursuivies par les gouvernements français et britanniques.

Anne Hildalgo, Mayor of Paris, announces a plan to support Paris’ deprived areas

Anne Hildalgo, Mayor of Paris, has recently announced a plan to concentrate social benefits on Paris’ most deprived areas in order to help those living there who are surviving on less than 12,800 euros a year. (About 9,150 pounds a year).

The aid will be concentrated in the North East of Paris and some areas of the South East. It will help people living within the borders of Paris, and not in the suburbs. It is already a real challenge to find affordable living in Paris, and most people have been pushed out into the suburbs (‘Grand Paris’). As a result, this aid will benefit 150,000 people, whereas previously the number would have been 300,000. Gentrification of almost all areas of Paris has pushed up prices and meant that young people and those living on small wages can’t afford to live within the péripherique, the large motorway that encircles Paris, and separates it from its suburbs.

This investment in social aid will take up a quarter of Hildalgo’s annual budget as Mayor of Paris. The CAF (Caisse Allocation Familles) will also prioritise applications from these areas. The CAF is a form of housing benefit that is open to all applicants, whether students, young professionals, or people on low wages that earn under a certain amount per year.

It was interesting to read about this, as over the weekend I read an article that appeared in The Guardian about the current housing crisis in Britain. The article covered the general problem in Britain, not focusing specifically in London, although it’s clear that the problem in London is severe. Only a few weeks ago, an advertisement aimed at people in Hong Kong considering buying property in London listed the fact that there would be no social housing in the development as one of its primary attractions. In fact, developers are supposed to include an allocated amount of social housing in all new projects in London, but this is often bypassed by financial contributions to the local council. The area in which this development is being built is Greenwich, which, according to The Guardian, has 11,000 families on the waiting list for social housing.

If you go on the Mayor of London’s website, you will see a lot of references to the fact that London is booming, its population exploding, and the subsequent importance of maintaining its competitive position internationally in almost all arenas. As a result, I saw that one of the regeneration projects supported by the Mayor of London is the London Riverside Opportunity, which aims to create 25,000 homes and 16,000 jobs in Barking, Dagenham, Havering and Newham. It’s one of the 38 ‘opportunity areas’ designated by the Mayor’s office across the city. Commenting on the project, the Deputy Mayor for Planning, Sir Edward Lister said; ‘The capital is now home to record number of people and we are working tirelessly to ensure we have the homes, jobs and transport infrastructure to support the city’s unprecedented growth. London Riverside can provide genuinely affordable high quality housing for Londoners in a fantastic Thameside setting.’

The thing that struck me about this is that this seems to be a project for those who will move in to the area in the future, not those who are already living there. There are various other housing initiatives taking place in the area, in order to attract new buyers. Yet a project like the one introduced in Paris would probably be welcome in this area, especially as Barking and Dagenham has the lowest life expectancy in all of London (77 years for men, and 82 years for women). However, this further serves to demonstrate the different governmental policies in France and the UK recently. François Hollande, when elected, pronounced himself against austerity, and up till now, with a few recent exceptions, has kept to his word. The welfare cuts that the UK has experienced under the current government has led to less and less local council spending  – over the next four years Barking and Dagenham council has to save £54m on top of the £90m already saved due to government funding cuts and therefore spending on social aid to help its poorest residents looks difficult.

Paris has a problem with the fact that it’s incredibly hard to affordable living within the péripherique. However, it’s still not impossible, and it’s encouraging to see a constructive social initiative that doesn’t focus on forcing people out of their homes. London seems like a more brutal place to live in contrast.

Immigration as a PR tactic

A few days ago I wrote about Manuel Valls, France’s Prime Minister’s interesting use of language when talking about what he perceives as the real and ongoing threat posed by the Front National in France.

Today, Les Echoes, France’s most important financial newspaper, wrote a piece on an article that Valls had given to Le Parisien, where he talks about his pride in being French. Valls, 52 years old, was born in Barcelona in 1962, and moved with his family to France when he was young. He was naturalized French at the age of 18, and after that undertook his military service in the French army before studying History at the Sorbonne, and embarking on his political career.

In the past few days, and in the weeks leading up to the regional elections, Valls has really taken up the challenge of convincing the French not to vote for the Front National. In the interview, he discusses his path to French naturalization and paints himself as an immigration success story. As a reminder, the Front National’s view on immigration are particularly negative – in their opinion the high levels of immigration in Europe and in France (which they cynically say immigrants target because of the social benefits available) are costing France a huge amount of money, and bringing down workers’ salaries. The scale of immigration in France does not cater to a successful policy of assimilation, which is resulting in a loss of French identity and values, and a rise in Islamization.

In contrast to this, Valls’ story of successful immigration and integration is a great PR story telling exercise that serves to show that France is a country that allows and encourages immigrants to flourish and put their talents to use. Valls stipulates in the interview that he decided to become French not because it was a story of social mobility or because it was obligatory, but because he wanted to be part of ‘un projet, des valeurs…(une) communauté nationale’. (Valls wanted to be part of a project, collective values, a national community). Valls says that he wants young people to feel proud of being French and to get rid of the cliches and discriminations in place in French society which the Front National helps to prolongate. By also recognizing that the French elite should be more representative of French society in general, Valls is trying to position himself as a role model for France’s disaffected youth and prove that immigrants or children of immigrants can succeed, and even reach high office in France. This is a neat, clean PR story telling exercise and there is no doubt it catches the attention, but one can’t help but think that it would be more powerful if it were coming from say, Najat Vallaud-Belkcem, the minister for Education, who was born in Morocco, and also acquired French nationality at the age of 18. This because, although Valls’ story is affecting, Spanish or European immigration is not what the Front National is getting so cross about. They are on the war path against unskilled immigrants fleeing war zones, and they are ramping up the now decades old tension against the steady flow of immigrants who come to settle in France’s banlieues, from France’s former colonies, such as Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem is therefore a slightly more relevant example of successful integration. That being said, it might not be surprising that this kind of smooth PR comes from Valls’ camp; between 1997 to 2001 he was in charge of the communication strategy for Lionel Jospin, then Prime Minister.

However, returning to Valls’ statement that in becoming French he was more adhering to a collective notion, an ideal (again, if I can say so, quite an intellectual way of acquiring French nationality – not through a desperate need to find a job or to not be deported), it’s interesting once again to look at his rhetoric and how cross he got in parliament recently when Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, one of the rising stars of the Front National, accused his party of stealing from the French (reference to several Swiss bank accounts that have been discovered in the rangs of the Parti Socialiste over the years) and of ignoring the 30% of French who vote for Marine Le Pen. Valls, his tone progressively mounting, swore to campaign against the Front National and called once again on the French, saying it was their duty to vote in the upcoming elections, because he is afraid that ‘ce pays, mon pays, ma France’ (this country, my country, my France) will regret voting for the Front National. He furiously riposted the claim that the Parti Socialiste wasn’t properly representing the French, saying that the MPs of the Front National were ‘serial offenders’ when it comes to sexist, racist and homophobic statements and that; ‘vous trompez les gens, vous trompez le petits gens, vous trompez les ouvriers, les agriculteurs, vous trompez ceux qui souffrent…’ (You are cheating French people, you’re cheating ordinary people, you’re cheating the workers, the farmers, those who suffer…’. Finally, he swore to ‘stigmatize’ the Front National, and to show that ‘vous êtes ni la République, ni la France’. (You represent neither France, nor the Republic). This kind of sweeping rhetoric, evoking the notion of ‘ma’ France, and the importance of the Republic goes to show that Valls adheres strongly to those values he claimed to feel at 18 years old, which coincide with the ideal of what it is to be French – unquestioning adherence to the values of the Republic. Yet the question is whether this kind of rhetoric designed to stir up the hearts and mind of those who listen to him will be effective when it comes to winning back disenfranchised voters, and will enable them to feel this pride in being in French that Valls says he wants to bring back. They might be more inclined to follow Maréchal-Le Pen, who told Valls:; ‘Gardez done votre mépris et vos leçons de République pour votre propre parti’ (Reserve your contempt and your moral on what it is to be a Republican for your own party). It’s possible that this kind of modernist politics (essentially telling a very well established politician to get stuffed) might be more attractive than a bourgeois politician often nicknamed ‘premier flic de France’ (France’s chief police officer. Word play – Valls’ official title is Premier Ministre) or a left-wing Sarkozy, in honor of his hardline tactics on issues such as crime and, ironically, immigration.

However, Valls also mentioned the laudable fact that few governments can boast of having as diverse a representation of successful immigration as France’s currently. It’s true that alongside him, there is the aforementioned Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Fleur Pellerin, Minister for Culture, who was born in South Korea, and Christine Taubira, Minister for Justice, who is from Cayenne, French Guinea. I thought it would be interesting to compare this with the current British government. Deputy Prime Minister; Nick Clegg, educated at Westminster and Cambridge; Nicky Morgan, Minister for Education, educated at Oxford and Chris Grayling, Minister for Justice, educated at Cambridge. The only exception to this list is Sajid Javid, Minister for Culture, who is the son of immigrants and who wasn’t educated at Oxbridge, and could be considered a poster child for successful integration. It’s ironic that Britain traditionally has a reputation for being a more ‘multicultural’ society than France, yet it is in France that at this moment this has filtered through to the elites at the top. It’s also worth noting that three of the French ministers talked about above are women, whereas only one of the British examples is female. There are currently 8 female ministers who attend cabinet in Britain, whereas in France there are at least 15.

It’s very interesting to follow Valls’ efforts to reposition the Socialist Party as less Champagne Socialists, but as a party representative of French society. It’s right to say that that cliches and discrimination need to be got rid of, and to point out that the cabinet does show a diverse slice of French society, but I am not sure that Valls is wholly convincing on immigration yet.

Optimism – should Manuel Valls try it?

Manuel Vall’s recent words about the Front National, that I read in Le Monde yesterday,  are an interesting way of doing politics.

The words he used when describing the situation were alarmist; ‘J’ai peur pour mon pays, j’ai peur qu’il se fracasse contre le Front National’. Translated, this means something like ‘I’m scared for my country, scared that it will smash into pieces because of the Front National’.

Valls also talked about his ‘angoisse’, (anxiety) about the continuing rise in popularity of the FN, giving his opinion that it is driving France towards ‘le désastre, à la ruine.’ (disaster, ruin). Valls added that the FN is edging nearer and nearer to taking power, and reinforced his opinion they could well win the next presidential elections in 2017.  Reminding his audience of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and in Copenhagen, Valls said that everyday people die trying to exercise their right to freedom of expression and democracy, and that after everything that had happened in recent weeks, it was the ‘duty’ of the French people to vote in the upcoming regional elections –  and to stop the FN winning even more seats.

After the recent debacle concerning the ‘Loi Macron’, where Valls had to enforce a particular parliamentary rule called the 49-3 which meant that the law was passed without a majority vote (because it became evident that the government would not have a majority), the upcoming regional elections aren’t looking good for the PS. Clinging onto its majority in parliament, it’s interesting that Valls has decided to take such a didactic tone. Looking at his vocabulary in more depth, he uses words like ‘fear’, ‘smash’, ‘anxiety’, ‘disaster’, ‘ruin’ and ‘duty’. These words are perhaps understandable in the context in which he and his party find themselves. The PS was voted in in 2012 with an absolute majority, and a mere two and a half years later they are struggling to pass laws in parliament. Voted in to avoid five more years of Nicolas Sarkozy, who at the time of the election was veering significantly to the right, they haven’t been able to stop the rise of the FN in France.

My instant reaction to this kind of vocabulary is to be on the defensive; it doesn’t seem to me to be the role of a politician to try an install a sense of fear within people in order to get them to vote for him – in fact it feels a slightly desperate, retrograde thing to do. Look at the recent  swoop to victory of Syriza, and the vocabulary that Alexis Tspiras used in his victory speech after becoming Greek prime minister. His rhetoric included words like ‘dignity’,  ‘passion’, ‘confidence’, ‘beautiful and tough fight’, and ‘optimism’. Matteo Renzi is also a partisan of optimism in encouraging people to vote for him; in a TED speech, he said; ‘optimism as an extraordinary vital force is fundamental in politics’. And, most interestingly, in a recent poll that was carried out for International Woman’s Day, Marine Le Pen came second place in response to the question of which French women best represented optimism. Even more importantly, she was voted into second place by 18-22 year olds – traditionally the group that mainstream parties like the UMP and the PS have the most problems persuading to vote – not just for them, but to vote at all.

However, it has to be admitted that optimism and a positive message in politics are particularly attractive when the other option is perceived as negative or pernicious. Take Barak Obama’s ‘Yes we can’ motto  – this was in contrast to a Republican party tainted by the failure of the Iraq war, and weakened by Sarah Palin’s unsuitability to hold high office. This was also undoubtably the case in Greece. Syriza represented a end to the crushing austerity measures imposed on Greece from Brussels. Yet in both cases, these promises of optimism have not, or may not necessarily hold good. Barack Obama was elected on a promise to close Guantanamo Bay and half way through his second mandate it remains open. He also promised various other measures such as increasing affordable housing in metropolitan areas, and an increase in the minimum wage that have not been put in place. Syriza was elected on a promise to utterly reject the terms imposed on it by Brussels, but a mere month after being elected it has bowed to pressure not to default on its loans and has accepted a four month extension on its bailout. It seems to be the case that in the current landscape of French politics the PS, which was voted in on the promise to grow the economy and restore France to growth has been transformed from the party of salvation to the party of stagnation. One of Hollande’s most famous elections promises was a 75% tax on all personal revenues that go over one million – and in fact the French have found themselves with a government that recently had to force through a law that introduces the beginning of austerity measures. Notably allowing businesses to stay open on Sunday and therefore getting rid of the current situation, which is that some shops are allowed to stay open on Sunday but are obliged to pay their employees more.

It may be that Valls’ rhetoric will change to convey a more positive message when the election starts to get closer. However, briefly looking at one example of Hollande’s campaign during the last election, we can see that this wasn’t the tactic he favoured. One of his election videos featured statements about the French economy at the time such as ‘10% de chômage, 23% chez les jeunes, 150 000 jeunes en échec scolaire, 783 000 ménages surendettés…’ (10% of unemployment, 23% of youth unemployment, 150 000 young people failing at school, 783 000 households in debt…). The figures appeared in black against a white screen and at the end there was one simple sentence; ‘On continue ou on change?’ (Should we continue or should we change?). It was a strong message, and not one that could be described as positive. Again, it something of the alarmist tone of Valls’ recent comments. Taking a closer look at two of these statistics, unemployment in France is at 10.2%, and youth employment is at 24.9% in 2015, about three years after this promise. (The video was made in 2011).

As an observer, it seems to me to be counter intuitive to take this tone when you haven’t delivered on election promises – and unemployment is one of the most important, if not the most important issues for French voters right now.!aOU5qav0xmjGI/

Racism in the Paris metro, and how it was seen in France

This week Chelsea fans in London assaulted a black man on the Paris metro. It received international coverage and widespread condemnation. I was interested in what the French thought about this and how they covered it in the news.

Many French newspapers reminded us that football and hooliganism go a long way back, especially in the UK. Libération started by reminding its readers that not so long ago, to be a football supporter in the UK was often associated with some form of delinquency. They talked about the 1985 Liverpool Juventus match where 39 people died after Liverpool fans breached a thin division separating them from the Juventus fans. Even though English football has done a lot to combat fan violence, Chelsea still has the highest number of fans arrested for abusive or racist chants.

Le Figaro focused more on Chelsea’s history, saying it was just one more episode in Chelsea’s troubled history of racism. Chelsea was one of the last clubs to accept players of colour – Paul Canoville was the first in 1982. Le Figaro uses a quote from him where he describes overhearing several fans saying that his goals shouldn’t count because he was black to emphasise the fact that racism was endemic. Le Figaro also mentioned the John Terry affair, where Terry was found guilty of racially insulting Anton Ferdinand and was banned for four matched and fined heavily. It seemed to be saying that even though efforts had been made to stamp out racism, it still existed, at all levels, from fans to players. That being said, much was made of the universal and loud condemnation across the British press, specifically picking up on words used such as ‘shame’ ‘disgrace’  and ‘disgust’.

L’Express said that a 2011 survey had revealed Chelsea fans as the most racist in all of English football, saying that they were incapable of even respecting their own player.  A fan was banned from the stadium in 2012 for racially insulting Didier Drogba. This, despite the fact that he helped Chelsea to the Champions League at the end of the season.

What was interesting about this was that the French newspapers did evoke the past history of racism in the UK, but focused mainly on the fact that Chelsea particularly had a tainted history and a still urgent problem of racism. In contrast, what the UK press seemed really worried about was that UK modern football might be being portrayed as universally racist – and this didn’t seem to be the case. There was more of a sort of unsurprised reaction that this should come from Chelsea.

Terroism and satire, article inspired by Joe Sacco

On Friday the Guardian published a drawing by Joe Sacco, entitled ‘On Satire’, as a reaction to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks, which really made me think. Above are two extracts from the drawing.

My initial reaction, and I think the reaction of the vast majority of people, to the news that key members of Charlie Hebdo had been murdered, was one of sickened horror. How could such an act of barbarism happen, and who could take such serious offense against these, in some cases, elderly men (and one woman) who picked up their pencils to mercilessly satirise the modern world. I thought to myself, who actually takes satire seriously? One of the wonderful things about satire in the form of drawings is that is very quickly gets to the heart of the matter, often in an incisive, snide, irreverent, cheeky, politically incorrect, joyful, cruel way. No-one is really exempt from being targeted occasionally.  Satire has a very healthy dose of a lack of respect for authority, which is very important to be exposed to from time to time.

Even though I am a committed Francophile, I can never really make up my mind about what I think about France’s so-called republican values.  This may be because I have been brought up in a country where the ideal of the state is no-where near as prevalent as it is in France, and the Prime Minister doesn’t have nearly as much power as France’s President does. Therefore, on the one hand, I thrill to the notion of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, on the other hand I feel that in real life these values are maintained at a very utopian level, and are not necessarily felt in everyday life. Yet, the attack on Charlie Hebdo was extremely clearly an attack on republican values. Freedom of speech, or perhaps more accurately, freedom to draw what you want, clearly falls within these values, and this is what so offended the Kouchi brothers and their followers. I have been amazed and glad to see the mobilisation and the deep felt reaction across Europe to the massacre, as it would appear that these French values are appreciated by everyone, and that everyone, at an intellectual level, embraces them as European values. I must say, this was obviously an attack on France, but it resonates so much because it is also a two fingers up to the larger ideal of European democracy.

Yet with all these impassioned feelings of shock and horror, I still felt uneasy about the fact the European values, and French values, are also supposed to embrace Égalité. In some ways, Charlie Hebdo did address that, as it was blasphemous not only towards the Muslim faith, but also towards the larger Christian faith. As I said earlier, no-one was really exempt from its mockery. Yet, we have to admit that in this day and age, mocking Muslims is becoming quite dangerous. It is also mocking a faith whose vast majority are peaceful, law abiding citizens, trying to live normal lives under the scourge of a small minority of people. Actually, every time an attack is reported in the news where its author was Muslim, my respect for the Muslim faith grows as I wonder how hard it must be to continue to practice your faith peacefully and privately despite increasing levels of prejudice against it. After the attack, François Hollande made a point of saying that these attacks had nothing to do with the Muslim faith, and the brother of the Muslim policeman, Ahmed Merabet, who was killed has very recently spoken out to say that those who carried out the attacks were not members of, and therefore representative of, any religion. And of course, Charlie Hebdo was not meant to be taken seriously. But just because you say it’s a joke, does that mean that everything is ok? And whilst people might argue that Égalité is mocking both Muslims and Christians together, everyone probably also knows deep down that you can mock Christians without a huge amount of risk, yet if you mock Muslims you expose yourself to huge geopolitical tension, and you also hurt and offend a population that is very prevalent in France. To ask people to adhere to the value of Égalité, you must first demonstrate it yourself.