An 80 year old French cartoonist, Maurice Sinet, who works under the pen name Sine, is to go on trial on Tuesday on charges of anti-Semitism for suggesting Jean Sarkozy, the son of the French president, was converting to Judaism for financial reasons.
The accused will be facing charges of “inciting racial hatred” for a column he wrote in July, 2014 in the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. His work later ended in his dismissal from the said weekly.
“L’affaire Sine” threw up his perspective on the engagement of Mr Sarkozy, 22, to Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, the Jewish heiress of an electronic goods chain. His commenting on an unfounded rumour that the president’s son planned to convert to Judaism, made him quote: “He’ll go a long way in life, that little lad.”
His work was highlighted further by a high-profile political commentator when he slammed the column as prejudice, merging Jews & social success. Philippe Val, Charlie Hebdo’s editor asked Sine to apologise in public, but he refused, proclaiming that he’d rather cut his balls off than apologize.
Parts of the libertarian Left defended him, citing the right to free speech. Yet Mr Val’s decision to fire Sine was backed by a group of elite intellectuals which even included the philosopher Bernard-Henry Lévy.
Sine, later, took Claude Askolovitch, the journalist who first accused him of anti-Semitism, to court for slander in a separate case. Also he, recently founded his own weekly magazine by the name Sine Hebdo.
The topic of anti-Semitism is still hot in a country which has yet not been able to forget the Alfred Dreyfus affair – the Jewish army captain who was wrongly accused of spying in the 19th century. Now again, it has become even more charged in recent months due to Israel-Gaza ‘war’ (read genocide). France was hit by a series of seemingly anti-Semitic acts, including firebomb attacks on synagogues.
The young Mr Sarkozy, who is now the leader of his father’s party is now married. He denied converting to Judaism just make it clear to public that his marital alliance has not been for anything but his better half.
Now, all of this should make us think about a few questions which still remain unanswered. Why in the world would a cartoon about a politician’s son conversion regarded as Antisemitism, but the satirical drawings of a person, Prophet Muhammad, who is regarded as the highest of beings by at least 1/6th of world’s population should be labelled as freedom of speech? Why are killings of 4 journalists of a satirical magazine being paid so much attention whereas in the same parallel world of Syria, Burma, etc. thousands of people including innocent children die almost everyday and no one really highlights that enough, forget about rectification measures? Why these double standards? Why?
Dr. Aafreen Kotadiya
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