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New fascism reflected in Charlie Hebdo Paris shootings

By Mal Fletcher - posted Thursday, 8 January 2015

The tragic shootings in Paris today, which killed twelve people and injured almost as many more, serve as a jarring reminder that a new brand of fascism threatens modem Europe.

David Cameron called the shootings in and around the headquarters of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, 'sickening.'

Germany's leader Angela Merkel joined him in condemnation as did President Obama, who called the attacks 'cowardly and evil'. Predictably, though nonetheless sincerely, other heads of state expressed similar emotions.


The French President, Francois Hollande, has announced that this Thursday will be a national day of mourning.

This is only the fifth time in the last 50 years that a day of mourning has been declared in France.

Religious leaders were quick to voice their feelings, too. The Archbishop of Canterbury called the attacks 'demonic and cowardly'. Prominent Muslim leaders also decried and disowned the violence.

Meanwhile, crowds gathered in public squares in Paris and across France, joined by thousands more here in London and in other capitals. In each place people eagerly and soberly declared by their presence an allegiance to liberty - and heartfelt sympathy for the families devastated by the killings.

Born, as are all fascist mindsets, out of a myopic view of the world - and in this case lethally linked to religious extremism - this new ideology's greatest threat is not to freedom of speech or expression, but to human life itself.

This is a reality already well known to the millions of people in Syria and Iraq who have for months, and in some cases years, faced the threat of imminent death for no other reason than that they process a particular worldview.


As citizens of liberal democracies, enjoying freedoms others have struggled and even died to give us, we must resist the temptation to respond to this threat with abject fear, which leads to a loss of perspective; or hatred, which erodes the soul of both individuals and societies; or apathy, which allows wickedness to go unaddressed or unpunished.

We must, in each individual country and as members of the common, multi-faceted European family, stare down this version of fascism with the same clear thinking and bold resolve our forebears demonstrated in their battles with twentieth century varieties.

We must also resist the other, no less dangerous form of contemporary facism. This one lurks somewhere behind the limited but, in some areas, growing public rallies taking place in other parts of Europe, which are aimed ostensibly at preventing the 'Islamification of Europe'.

These two forms represent the flip side of each other; neither offers a positive vision for the future and both call upon a very selective view of our past.

Other free nations must resolve to do the same for, as Churchill knew so well, fascism of any kind is at its strongest when people refuse to see it in their midst, or to recognise its potential in their future.

For now, we say with heartfelt sincerity, 'Vive la France' and 'Vive la liberté'.

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About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

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