Friday, February 14, 2020

Mila Stands Against the Mob

When it comes to brave adolescents, French schoolgirl named Mila has it all over Swedish truand Greta Thunberg.

The sixteen year old Mila got herself into some serious trouble for blaspheming Islam. In France, where more than 10% of the population is Muslim, this is a problem. It has certainly been a problem for Mila who received an avalanche of death and mutilation threats and who needed to be transferred to a new high school.

But her problems have also raised salient issues about free expression in liberal France. (From Hot Air, via Maggie’s Farm) And about whether Muslims can accept liberal values, even when their religion is blasphemed.

It began last January during an Instagram livestream where Mila was showing her  thirty subscribers how she was putting on makeup.

Agence France-Press has the story:

The furore began when Mila, a striking figure with short hair dyed purple and piercing blue eyes, live streamed footage of herself doing her makeup on Instagram on January 18.

Recounting the events to the host of the popular chatshow Le Quotidien on Monday, Mila said: “A guy was hitting on me heavily during the live, telling me ‘you’re beautiful, you’re hot, what age are you?”.

She duly informed those watching that she was lesbian and that “blacks and Arabs” were not her type.

And then:

Cue a stream of insults and threats, followed by her now infamous response, spoken directly to camera.

“The Koran is a religion of hatred, there is only hatred in it. Islam is shit, your religion is shit,” she said, describing in lewd terms what she would do to “your god”.

The Guardian picks up the story:

Her outburst sparked death threats and social media users posted her personal information online, including where she was attending school. The public prosecutor has opened an investigation for “death threats, threats to commit a crime and harassment” against her attackers and a separate inquiry into whether she had “provoked religious hatred”, which is punishable by the law.

In French law you are allowed to blaspheme a religion. You are not allowed to express hatred for those who practice a religion. The issue is especially salient considering that five years ago French cartoonists were massacred by jihadi gunmen for lampooning the Propher Mohammed.

The AFP continues:

The case of 16-year-old Mila - who has received a slew of death threats for calling Islam “a shitty religion” - has come just over five years after a group of French cartoonists from the Charlie Hebdo magazine were gunned down by jihadist gunmen after poking fun at the Prophet Mohammed.

On Tuesday, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced that the teen, whose full name has been withheld by French media, and her family had been put under police protection.

Right-wing politicians have accused the government of failing to show enough support for the teen in the face of what they call “Islamist” threats over the last two weeks.

Politicians on the right are supporting Mila. Politicians on the left are more timid about it:

The Senate leader of the main opposition Republicans party, Bruno Retailleau, also issued a robust defence of Mila against “this political Islam which is trampling our values”.

But some on the left, like former Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal, appeared torn between the desire to defend the unfettered free speech for which the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists died and reprimand the teen for her foul-mouthed outburst.

While defending Mila’s “total” freedom to criticise a religion, Royal said she should have shown more “respect, manners and knowledge” and should not be made into “a paragon of freedom of expression.”

In truth, France is struggling with its large unassimilated Muslim population. Clearly, that population wants France to adapt to its culture, and not the other way around.

Now, standing at the bridge, is a courageous sixteen year old school girl. If you watch her performance on television you will see that she thinks clearly and presents her case well.

Now, to his credit President Macron has come to her defense:

Emmanuel Macron has waded into a row over a schoolgirl whose attack on Islam has divided France, insisting that blasphemy is “no crime”.

The French president defended the teenager, named only as Mila, who received death threats and was forced out of her school after filming an anti-religious diatribe on social media.

Macron’s intervention comes after his justice minister, Nicole Belloubet, was criticised for claiming Mila’s attack on religion was “an attack on freedom of conscience” while saying the death threats were “unacceptable”.

“In this debate we have lost sight of the fact that Mila is an adolescent. We owe her protection at school, in her daily life, in her movements,” Macron said in an interview with Le Dauphiné Libéré newspaper.

The president added that in finding a new school for Mila, “the state has fulfilled its responsibilities” and that children needed to be “better protected” against “new forms of hatred and harassment online that can be destructive”.

“That necessity is separate from the criticism of religion. The law is clear: we have the right to blaspheme, to criticise, to caricature religions. The republican order is not a moral order … what is outlawed is to incite hatred and attack dignity,” Macron added.

For your further edification, here is a clip of Mila’s television interview, on a show called Le Quotidien… which means The Daily. 


David Foster said...

Macron has shown a surprising amount of courage here, given the European context.

He should take it a step further and fire his justice minister.

Sam L. said...

Macron has amazed me. I'd never have thunk it.

370H55V said...

Of course, nothing ever happened to French Ambassador to the UK Daniel Bernard when he called Judaism a "shitty religion" some years ago.

Leo G said...


Philly is about to burn.