Ankle

9 January 2015 Ankle

Mary a little better though she could manage to get up for breakfast. Right foot very sore arthritis!

Obituary:

John Chancellor

John Chancellor

John Chancellor, who has died aged 87, was a publisher, author and bibliophile, winning a reputation as a considerable scholar and eccentric in the literary world and among a wide circle of friends. He became better known in later life as the father of the actress Anna Chancellor.

Friends often said that he loved his books too much and might have enjoyed more financial success as an antiquarian book dealer if he had achieved a more rapid turnover. The truth is that he was a better collector than salesman, a luxury he could ill afford. Once he had acquired a treasured tome, he was reluctant to let go of it.

In his extensive and esoteric travels in Europe and North America he picked up an astonishing variety of literary works and did not know where to put them – as his younger brother Alexander Chancellor, formerly editor of The Spectator and now of The Oldie, learnt to his cost.

When Alexander was Washington correspondent of The Independent in the late 1980s, John filled a whole room of his house there with his volumes. More recently, when John rented a converted stable near Alexander’s house in Northamptonshire, a garage became chock-a-block with books. Last summer there was a successful sale in which about 3,000 were sold, releasing some space.

John Chancellor was born in London on July 1 1927, shortly before his parents moved to China, where his father, Sir Christopher Chancellor, was general manager of Reuters before the war and afterwards. Sent to board at a prep school in England (which he hated), John was separated from his parents for four years; and, although he was well looked after by his grandparents, some say this may have contributed to his anxieties and insecurities in later life.

He went to Eton and then to Trinity College, Cambridge, which he enjoyed. He did National Service at the end of the war with the 60th Rifles but was relentlessly teased as an effete toff. He once awoke to find colleagues urinating on his face, but swore at his assailants with such colourful barrack-room language that he immediately established credibility and authority. No one knew where it had come from, however.

After the war Chancellor tried a job in insurance but this soon bored him. He then started work with Purnell’s, the publishers, which produced part-work encyclopedias sold in instalments and assembled in binders. An edition called Knowledge sold 400,000 copies. There were also volumes on Discovering Art and The Masters.

After this he joined the publishers Sidgwick & Jackson, where he earned the distinction of being sacked by the chairman, Lord Longford. Chancellor set up his own business, Kew Books, because he happened to be living in Kew Green near the botanical gardens at the time. It specialised in botanical matters.

He married Alice Jolliffe, sister of the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Hylton and the writer John Jolliffe . After his marriage broke up, he moved to North America, first to New York state and later to Puerto Rico and Santa Domingo, where he enjoyed the sun and an exotic lifestyle.

“He was an enfant terrible who loved to make himself shudder,” said his sister Susanna, who is hoping to publish a book about him based on the huge supply of letters he wrote. “He loved making tactless, embarrassing speeches, such as the one he made on my 40th wedding anniversary when he said I’d have married the first man who came along. He could be formal and haughty, but he was hugely lovable, affectionate and scholarly. He wrote books on Wagner and Edward II. He could read in four languages and was especially fond of German and French literature.”

Chancellor and his wife had three daughters, Isabel, Katie (who married the writer Will Self, then the restaurateur Rowley Leigh) and Anna, and one son, Eddie (who is married to Martin Amis’s former wife Antonia).

On the night before he died Chancellor, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, went across to his brother Alexander’s house for champagne and mince pies while watching his daughter Anna on television in Mapp and Lucia. He then went to bed and was found dead the next morning.

John Chancellor, born July 1 1927, died December 31 2014

Guardian:

Charlie Hebdo
Flowers and candles outside the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Why does ‘the killing of 12 journalists in a conflict which has killed thousands of ‘other people’, mostly Muslims, commands shock and fuss out of all proportion to its importance?’ asks Edward Pearce. Photograph: Francois Mori/AP

The way in which liberal-left political satire is practised in France and Britain has long given the lie to the smug stereotype of Britain being brave and France cowardly in opposing fascism (An assault on democracy, 8 January). The tendency here, as epitomised most egregiously by Mark Steel and Jeremy Hardy, is to pick on soft targets, pandering to a “groupthink” audience of the so-called liberal left, laughing uproariously on cue, in what Howard Jacobson once identified as an “avidity of like-mindedness”. The endless recycling of Blair as the soft target fox to these “brave” hunters is a good example.

The self-righteous rant can so often in Britain pass for the true satire, based firmly in an authentic left, which Charlie Hebdo so courageously exemplifies in France. Even Steve Bell, who has spoken very movingly of his French colleagues, slaughtered by fascist thugs, has been circumspect about his targets; and Rory Bremner left satire behind when he chose to exclude religious extremists from his chosen objects of ridicule – and then wondered why he did not get “enough grief” over his output.

True satire is not just posturing, in a cosily collusive middle-class milieu, as “anti-establishment”. It is freedom laughing in the face of tyranny. That takes courage of an order demonstrated by the assassinated journalists at Charlie Hebdo, whose slain editor simply stated that he would rather die than “live like a rat”.
Hugh Hetherington
Sandwich, Kent

• As a Muslim, I strongly condemn the attack on Charlie Hebdo and those behind it. These terrorists do not represent me nor do they represent Islam. Their wicked ideology is an existential threat to Islam itself. Part of the problem is that these extremists and Islamophobes – responsible for burning mosques and attacking women wearing the hijab – need each other to exist. We, the majority of ordinary people of every faith, race and colour, should stand together to these extremists and say enough is enough.
Mohammed Samaana
Belfast

• What is the matter with journalists that the killing of 12 other journalists in a conflict which has killed thousands of “other people”, mostly Muslims, commands shock and fuss out of all proportion to its importance? The government of Israel recently responded to the deaths of three Israelis with almost 3,000 Palestinian deaths. Journalists noticed that event, clicked tongues and talked about the general problem. The staff of Charlie Hebdo gave gross affront and knew about extremist groups who kill. We all do. They knew that Muslims venerate the prophet and that extreme Muslims will die and kill for him. The Parisian journalists produced a smart, Muhammad-mocking cartoon and now witter on (like your columnists) about rights, liberty, eternal freedom of eternal expression and other abstractions. They should consider that the little lad who used a stick with a horses-head handle to poke a lion got eaten.
Edward Pearce
York

• In the aftermath of this tragic attack, many people, mainly journalists and politicians, have robustly and self-righteously defended “free speech”. Free speech is held up as a cornerstone of democracy even when some of those who have exercised it have been imprisoned or exiled and when, at the same time, it can be divisive, foment prejudice and hatred, feed anger, bitterness and otherness. Those who call for some restraint and respect in the media are labelled censorious.

Surely in any democracy the exercise of restraint and respect for others is imperative. Defenders of free speech suggest that anything goes, in which case it should be acceptable to call someone with learning difficulties a “retard”, or a person of Pakistani origin a “Paki” and so on. It is not acceptable to use such speech and it should not be acceptable to denigrate religion – even when one holds a superior intellectual position – where it is known to give offence. Mockery, even when dressed up as satire, is a poor substitute for honest debate. Let’s have more respect and less hypocrisy.
Susan Robinson
Ormskirk, Lancashire

• Guardian commentators – along with the rest of the media – have been as one in their framing of the French terrorist atrocities as a narrative of ‘“free speech v evil doers”. In this context, some dissenting opinion from secular liberals would not go amiss. At what point does the “right to offend” slide into Muslim-baiting and just plain old-fashioned racism? For example, I fail to see equivalence between the intelligent irreligious cartoon “Jesus and Mo”, which attacks the absurdities of belief, and pornographic portrayals of the prophet Muhammad.

Readers might want to check out the Charlie Hebdo cartoon “the Koran is shit” and reflect on how this compares with the lurid depictions of Jews in Der Sturmer in 1930s Germany. Given France’s anti-Islamic colonialist past we should be very wary of how it continues to inform present discourse on Islam in the guise of liberty.
Steven Garside
Manchester

• Freedom is always a dilemma. For me to be free to do anything I want, no one else can be free. We therefore have agreed to limit individual freedom to get a balance for us all to have some freedom. For freedom of speech, the same thing works. Should I be free to express all I think and feel even if it insults, hurts, degrades other people and their most precious beliefs? Freedom of speech only works if we show respect for other people. Disrespecting other people, their religion or foreign heads of state, and justifying it as free speech, should also be unacceptable. This does not stop rational argument or criticism, just abuse.
Jeffrey Butcher
Morecambe, Lancashire

• Free speech comes at a price; it even costs human lives. The bottom line for an open and free democracy seems to me to be that I have to accept that someone, somewhere, sooner or later, will say something that offends me. But I have to live with my feelings, and not assuage them in any violent way at all. In fact, we can all have a “right” to cause offence, if we do not also demand the “right” to take offence too. It is likely that some of those who reject this principle, whatever their religion, or lack of it, will continue to make martyrs of those who practise it.
Fr Alec Mitchell
Manchester

• Natalie Nougayréde (Report, 8 January) is quoted as saying that “the crucial task now is to defend the right to offend”. Why is such a right more important than the responsibility to resist the urge to abuse the treasured right to free speech simply to prove a point? What purpose is served?
Sierra Hutton-Wilson
Evercreech, Somerset

Charlie Hebdo: A crime by individuals not a community

Italy, tribute to the victims of a shooting at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo
A man pays tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting at French consulate in Milan. ‘What has happened since is that the Muslim community as a whole is being charged with ­collective guilt by association,’ writes Sasha Simic. Photograph: Michela Nava/EPA

The brutal slaughter at the Charlie Hebdo office was nothing but base criminality. But it was committed by three men NOT a community – still less a religion. What has happened since is that the Muslim community as a whole is being charged with collective guilt by association.

I do not recall white Norwegians being asked by the media to scrutinise their “values” and beliefs in the same way in 2011 following the murderous rampage by the neonazi Anders Behring Breivik, in which he murdered 77 people. Such an argument would have been absurd. It is equally absurd to condemn millions of people because they happen to be the co-religionists of three brutal murderers.
Sasha Simic
London

Yourtrenchant editorial against the criminal terrorism committed in Paris (8 January) asserts the “adjectives are simply not there to capture the horror unleashed by weapons of war in a civilian office”. Maybe not for the Paris outrage. However, we should not forget Nato – on our behalf – has twice unleashed just such weapons when it bombed media headquarters in its invasions of Serbia and Afghanistan respectively. The then prime minister Tony Blair described the attack on the Serbian state television headquarters in Belgrade, killing 13 members of the media, as “entirely legitimate”. But the then general secretary of the National Union of Journalists described the attack as “barbarity”, adding that “killing journalists does not stop censorship, it only brings more repression”. In 2001, just before the Northern Alliance marched into Kabul on 12 November, the US, acting for Nato, dropped a bomb on the studios of the Arab satellite TV station al-Jazeera, also damaging nearby offices of the BBC and the Associated Press. Colonel Rick Thomas, in an unconvincing apologia to CBS News for the US Central Command, insisted that the building was “a known al Qaida facility in central Kabul … We had no indications this or any nearby facility was used by al-Jazeera”. By chance, nobody was hurt, as the building was not occupied at the time by any of the 10 al-Jazeera journalists and technicians based there.

It is never right to attack journalists, even if you disagree with the editorial position of their media outlet, print or broadcast. We should uphold this defence of freedom, not apply it selectively.
Dr David Lowry
Stoneleigh, Surrey

• The last surviving British veteran of the first world war, Harry Patch, claimed rightly that war is organised murder. So-called terrorism is merely organised murder usually by non-state actors. There is no one method of killing or motive for killing that is always present in terrorism and never present in war. But even the Guardian does not seem to realise this, referring to the sanguinary wars waged by the west in recent times as “misadventures” and the sanguinary actions of the non-state actors at the offices of Charlie Hebdo as “murder”. Both are to be utterly condemned. To condemn the one and not the other is intellectually and morally dishonest.
Malcolm Pittock
Bolton, Greater Manchester

• This is a terrible tragedy for the families of the murdered journalists and their co-workers. Our condolences must go out to them. Amid the outrage about this act, there is anger about the offence against free speech and the question is asked “How can they do such a thing?” Which, of course, no one attempts to answer. From the point of view of the killers, they were merely attacking part of the propaganda apparatus of their enemies – perhaps considering it akin to the allies execution of Lord Haw-Haw after the second world war. But before the howls of whataboutery and the sanctity about free speech start, perhaps some people in the western media should ask themselves whether they raised sufficient concerns when the Americans killed an al-Jazeera journalist in 2003? This was far from being an isolated case as the US killing of ITN’s Terry Lloyd – described as a war crime by the National Union of Journalists – demonstrated. More recently, how many western news outlets are acknowledging that it is the US that is funding the Egyptian military that is imprisoning journalists on trumped-up charges?

Of course we could ignore the unequal power dynamic that is at work and fail to reflect on the forces that construct this conflict. The atrocity would then be used as an excuse to continue to kill more of them who in turn would enjoy greater recruitment to kill more of us.
Dr Gavin Lewis
Manchester

• We are continuing to pay a stiff price for Charlie Wilson’s war and arming Afghani tribesmen with Stinger missiles to down Soviet helicopters. It would have been as well to let the communists build infrastructure, sort out land ownership and secularise Afghanistan instead of the US continuing its decades-long jihad against communism. The Muslim jihadis are a byproduct of a superstitious holy war against the secular philosophy of communism.
DBC Reed
Thorplands, Northamptonshire

• Kidnapping, torture, rendition, illegal invasion, bombing, assassination, suspension of habeas corpus. Hundreds of thousands of non-combatants dead, men, women and children. How then shall we now with conviction resist the pernicious, toxic metaphysical ideology that left 12 tragically dead in a Paris office? Those who break the law cannot rely on its protection. To honour Charlie Hebdo we must live up to andby the fundamental principles it has taken us 2,000 years to embed in our democratic way of life. No exceptions. Or we will lose.
Keith Farman
St Albans, Hertfordshire

• I have always thought we were wrong to involve ourselves in Middle Eastern conflicts. However, the assassination of 12 cartoonists and journalists in their workplace is unforgivable. Our society and culture is based in the ability to rib and ridicule the pillars that hold us up, this is our check and balance, this is what keeps our people in power in their place. This extends to our god. I now fear that as a result of Wednesday’s events our journalists and cartoonists will still their pens for fear of retribution in the form of an AK47. If so, we have lost everything.
Jake Ridley
Saul, Gloucestershire

In the spirit of “Je suis Charlie”, I believe a suitable gesture of solidarity would be for the Guardian to publish one or more of the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons on the front page. If the paper feels unable to do this, the readers should be able to at least expect a personal statement from the editor as to why, and as to whether fear of violence from jihadist groups is part or all of the reason.
Andrew Dawson
Crowthorne, Berkshire

• Interviewed on BBC Radio on the evening of the Paris attack, cartoonist Martin Rowson said the cartoon he wanted to draw was one of the prophet Muhammad wearing a T-shirt bearing the message “Not in my name”. If we are not permitted to see images some hold sacred, your cartoon page should include descriptions of cartoons that an oversensitive and violent minority prevent us from seeing. We will have to use our imagination.
Dominic Rayner
Leeds

• One response to the despicable attack in Paris would be for newspapers throughout the world to come together and publish cartoons that gently poke fun at all religions – and none, including humanism. If we are cowed into not using our freedoms, including the freedom of the press to satirically challenge our beliefs, then we deserve to lose them.
Bob Scott
Glasgow

• I’m a cartoonist, author and one-time Guardian features contributor who had a book of cartoons on religions around the world, The Good God Guide, published in 2002. It included a handful of gentle, I felt not especially controversial, cartoons about Islam and was introduced by Spike Milligan, shortly before his death. The book merited a whole-page feature in the Times and a few of the cartoons appeared together in the Guardian. Some time after, the book was politely “disappeared” and years of work were wasted, with the publisher telling me it feared Islamic threats. My artistic endeavour was silenced. The widening Islamist attack on free speech and democratic values across the world – and not least one’s being able to enjoy a sense of humour, even a wildly satirical one – must be defied.
John Pepper
Lancaster

The killings in Paris were an affront to humanity and freedom. So was the picture you printed on your front page (An assault on democracy, 8 January). The last moment of a helpless person about to be shot should not be published, out of respect for that person and their relatives and friends, by a responsible newspaper. Freedom comes with restraints that are defined by humanity and ethics, as well as by legality. I believe you made a mistake publishing that photograph.
John Gaskin
Driffield, East Yorkshire

• The killing of journalists and police officers in Paris is utterly deplorable. The atmosphere in Brussels is one of deep sadness along with heartfelt sympathy for the families and friends affected. However, it is deeply regrettable that some groups and individuals, including some in the European parliament, are using the tragic events opportunistically to forward their own personal and political agendas. Fanning the flames of division in Europe at such a time is completely unacceptable. Now is the moment to promote, celebrate and unite around Europe’s great qualities of free speech and tolerance.
Molly Scott Cato MEP
Green, South-West England

• Some people take life and their beliefs seriously. You can make fun of them, but must understand there may be a reaction – and you have a choice whether to do so or not. But did the police officers ordered to protect the journalists at Charlie Hebdo have a choice? Shot like animals that were in the way, I hope they are equally mourned. We should remember them when we exercise our right to criticise those who protect us and our liberties.
Chris Hardy
London

• Protestors raised pens in the air in Paris as a symbol of freedom of speech. My Penguin Classic edition of The Qur’an (1974, pages 61-63) has a chapter entitled The Pen, which begins: “By the Pen, and what they write, you are not mad.” Without the pen there would have been no Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in 1789, and no Qur’an.
Ivor Morgan
Lincoln

• John Mortimer once said causing offence is important and beneficial to humanity. People should be offended three times a week and twice on Sundays.
Malachy Pakenham
St Albans, Hertfordshire

 

 

Yourtrenchant editorial against the criminal terrorism committed in Paris (8 January) asserts the “adjectives are simply not there to capture the horror unleashed by weapons of war in a civilian office”. Maybe not for the Paris outrage. However, we should not forget Nato – on our behalf – has twice unleashed just such weapons when it bombed media headquarters in its invasions of Serbia and Afghanistan respectively. The then prime minister Tony Blair described the attack on the Serbian state television headquarters in Belgrade, killing 13 members of the media, as “entirely legitimate”. But the then general secretary of the National Union of Journalists described the attack as “barbarity”, adding that “killing journalists does not stop censorship, it only brings more repression”. In 2001, just before the Northern Alliance marched into Kabul on 12 November, the US, acting for Nato, dropped a bomb on the studios of the Arab satellite TV station al-Jazeera, also damaging nearby offices of the BBC and the Associated Press. Colonel Rick Thomas, in an unconvincing apologia to CBS News for the US Central Command, insisted that the building was “a known al Qaida facility in central Kabul … We had no indications this or any nearby facility was used by al-Jazeera”. By chance, nobody was hurt, as the building was not occupied at the time by any of the 10 al-Jazeera journalists and technicians based there.

It is never right to attack journalists, even if you disagree with the editorial position of their media outlet, print or broadcast. We should uphold this defence of freedom, not apply it selectively.
Dr David Lowry
Stoneleigh, Surrey

• The last surviving British veteran of the first world war, Harry Patch, claimed rightly that war is organised murder. So-called terrorism is merely organised murder usually by non-state actors. There is no one method of killing or motive for killing that is always present in terrorism and never present in war. But even the Guardian does not seem to realise this, referring to the sanguinary wars waged by the west in recent times as “misadventures” and the sanguinary actions of the non-state actors at the offices of Charlie Hebdo as “murder”. Both are to be utterly condemned. To condemn the one and not the other is intellectually and morally dishonest.
Malcolm Pittock
Bolton, Greater Manchester

• This is a terrible tragedy for the families of the murdered journalists and their co-workers. Our condolences must go out to them. Amid the outrage about this act, there is anger about the offence against free speech and the question is asked “How can they do such a thing?” Which, of course, no one attempts to answer. From the point of view of the killers, they were merely attacking part of the propaganda apparatus of their enemies – perhaps considering it akin to the allies execution of Lord Haw-Haw after the second world war. But before the howls of whataboutery and the sanctity about free speech start, perhaps some people in the western media should ask themselves whether they raised sufficient concerns when the Americans killed an al-Jazeera journalist in 2003? This was far from being an isolated case as the US killing of ITN’s Terry Lloyd – described as a war crime by the National Union of Journalists – demonstrated. More recently, how many western news outlets are acknowledging that it is the US that is funding the Egyptian military that is imprisoning journalists on trumped-up charges?

Of course we could ignore the unequal power dynamic that is at work and fail to reflect on the forces that construct this conflict. The atrocity would then be used as an excuse to continue to kill more of them who in turn would enjoy greater recruitment to kill more of us.
Dr Gavin Lewis
Manchester

• We are continuing to pay a stiff price for Charlie Wilson’s war and arming Afghani tribesmen with Stinger missiles to down Soviet helicopters. It would have been as well to let the communists build infrastructure, sort out land ownership and secularise Afghanistan instead of the US continuing its decades-long jihad against communism. The Muslim jihadis are a byproduct of a superstitious holy war against the secular philosophy of communism.
DBC Reed
Thorplands, Northamptonshire

• Kidnapping, torture, rendition, illegal invasion, bombing, assassination, suspension of habeas corpus. Hundreds of thousands of non-combatants dead, men, women and children. How then shall we now with conviction resist the pernicious, toxic metaphysical ideology that left 12 tragically dead in a Paris office? Those who break the law cannot rely on its protection. To honour Charlie Hebdo we must live up to andby the fundamental principles it has taken us 2,000 years to embed in our democratic way of life. No exceptions. Or we will lose.
Keith Farman
St Albans, Hertfordshire

• I have always thought we were wrong to involve ourselves in Middle Eastern conflicts. However, the assassination of 12 cartoonists and journalists in their workplace is unforgivable. Our society and culture is based in the ability to rib and ridicule the pillars that hold us up, this is our check and balance, this is what keeps our people in power in their place. This extends to our god. I now fear that as a result of Wednesday’s events our journalists and cartoonists will still their pens for fear of retribution in the form of an AK47. If so, we have lost everything.
Jake Ridley
Saul, Gloucestershire

Independent:

Share

The Independent shows a confused response to the atrocity in Paris. Your 8 January editorial states that “all organs of the media must resist” this assault on free speech. Kim Sengupta claims that “self censorship cannot be the rule in a pluralistic, democratic society”.

Yet your publication has again proven to be at the heart of the problem and not the solution by refusing to print any of the cartoons that Charlie Hebdo produced. The British press has a lot to learn from Stéphane Charbonnier, the murdered editor of Charlie Hebdo who “would rather die standing than live on my knees”. If only our journalistic elite had the same concerns about standing up for what is right.

Jonathan Glass
London N2

 

Congratulations to Dave Brown and to the editorial decision to put his cartoon as a sole, unadorned front page (8 January). I do not remember anything with such punch since Zec’s wartime cartoon of a shipwrecked merchant sailor adrift, clinging to a piece of wreckage, with the caption: “‘The price of petrol has been increased by one penny’ – Official.” That one nearly got the Mirror shut down. Best  of luck.

P Hicks
London SW6

 

As a Muslim, I strongly condemn the attack on Charlie Hebdo and those behind it. These terrorists do not represent me nor do they represent Islam. Their wicked ideology is an existential threat to Islam itself. Part of the problem is that these extremists and Islamophobes – responsible for burning mosques and attacking women wearing hijab – need each other in order to exist. We, the majority of ordinary people of every faith, race and colour, should stand together to these extremists and say enough is enough.

Mohammed Samaana
Belfast

 

In the wake of the atrocity in Paris we are hearing a lot about freedom of speech, which strikes me as one of the Western world’s enduring myths. We have never had to be more careful about what we say, rightly or wrongly, and mindful of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, colour, social background and belief. We all know the drill.

George Sharpley
Gloucester

 

The media have almost without exception framed the French terrorist atrocities as a narrative of free speech vs evil doers. In this context some dissenting opinion from secular liberals would not go amiss.

At what point does the “right to offend” slide into Muslim-baiting and old-fashioned racism? For example, I fail to see equivalence between the intelligent, irreligious cartoon Jesus and Mo, which attacks the absurdities of belief, and pornographic portrayals of the Prophet Mohamed. Readers might want to check out the Charlie Hebdo cartoon “The Koran is shit” and reflect on how this compares with the lurid depictions of Judaism in Der Sturmer in 1930s Germany.

Given France’s anti-Islamic colonialist past, we should be very wary of how it continues to inform present discourse on Islam in the guise of liberty.

Steven Garside
Manchester

 

Yet again we see the total insanity of Muslim terrorists in our Western civilisation, and we have to insist that our own press make a firm stand and show these fanatics that we simply do not accept their Stone Age ideas and actions. One way to do this is to just poke fun and generally ridicule them on a grand scale.

Every newspaper in the UK and Europe should agree on a date on which to publish cartoons ridiculing the three main religious groups, Muslims, Jews and Christians, with a banner heading saying: “If you live in the Western world you accept Western freedoms… these include the right to be critical of all religions without fear of reprisal. If you cannot accept this, then you should not live in Western society.”

Dave Simms Davies
Marlow

 

Kidnapping, torture, rendition, illegal invasion, bombing, assassination, suspension of habeas corpus. Hundreds of thousands dead including non-combatant men, women and children.

How then shall we now with honour and conviction resist the pernicious, toxic ideology that left 12 people tragically dead in a Paris office?

Those who break the law cannot rely on its protection. To honour Charlie Hebdo we must live up to and by the fundamental principles it has taken us 2,000 years to embed in our democratic way of life. No exceptions. Or we will lose.

Keith Farman
St Albans, Hertfordshire

 

The murders in Paris are inexcusable. However, these writers should have known better than to insult Islam in the way that they did. In a world increasingly divided by religious extremism, with Islamophobia and disaffected Muslim youth going off to fight in the Middle East, we need to build bridges, not destroy them.

Daniel Emlyn-Jones
Oxford

 

The Paris murderers were indeed cowardly and motivated by their perceived highest authority – Allah. The torturers in Guantanamo Bay and the safely ensconced directors of US killer drones were also cowardly and motivated by their perceived highest authority – god and country. This should remind us of the terrors that are unleashed when, instead of our moral sense being grounded in humanity and fellow-feeling, we understand it as determined by an all-powerful authority – be it god, the state or even the free market.

Peter Cave
London W1

 

All attention seems to be focused on the Charlie Hebdo staff who were victims of yesterday’s shocking atrocity in Paris.

Spare a thought for the families of the two policemen who were collateral damage from the needless clash of two fundamentalisms.

David Maughan Brown
York

 

The A&E crisis we could all see coming

Charlie Cooper’s “Why are we experiencing an A&E crisis now?” (7 January) identifies many of the salient roots of the growing A&E crisis. However, I find it baffling that there is no mention of Andrew Lansley’s disastrous 2012 NHS “reforms”. During a period of enormous financial strain on the NHS (Tory “efficiency savings” ), Lansley chose to introduce an intensely complex and costly (£3bn) reorganisation. The resulting chaos has been an increased burden on the NHS, and further demoralised already stretched nurses and doctors.

Whether or not one agrees with Lansley’s reforms is immaterial. David Nicholson (then the NHS’s chief executive) described the 2012 NHS reorganisation as being “so large it is visible from space”. To ignore its salience to the current A&E crisis seems remiss.

Jamie Register
London E17

 

I noticed that an article I was reading in an online South American newspaper this morning had been “sponsored” by the British National Health Service. Were I to be feeling depressed, I should contact them without delay. I was surprised to find that the NHS currently considers itself to be so short of business that it needs to tout for more.

Iain Salisbury
Birmingham

 

Why is everyone so unprepared for what is happening in the NHS? For ages we have known that people are living longer and, consequently, more hospital beds would be required.

Perhaps, when our MPs are old, they will be able to see what they should have done to avoid the present situation (I suggest scrapping Trident and building more hospitals). But, sadly, by then it will be too late.

Sarah Pegg
Seaford, East Sussex

 

Truly regional television

On Monday evening I enjoyed watching Broadchurch on television, set as it was by the golden west Dorset cliffs. What a surprise to find that Ellen E Jones (TV review, 6 January) must have seen a different version, which had “crumbling white cliffs”. Was hers perhaps filmed in Sussex? Are there other regional versions?

Alan Langley
Market Harborough, Leicestershire

 

The litter louts among us

Unfortunately, the littering habit observed by Rosy Curtis (Letters, 6 January) is not confined to her local cinema. Littering on trains appears to be increasingly common, not only in the form of discarded freesheets and other newspapers, but also cans, cups, and even banana skins and apple cores, which are particularly unpleasant for cleaners and for other travellers.

Probably the worst example I have seen was a used teabag being discarded on the floor of a train. Would these (middle-aged, professional) people do this at home?

John Armstrong
Southampton

 

Rosy Curtis is quite right to feel aggrieved by the litter left after a children’s screening of Paddington. But to say “I don’t know what the world is coming to” raises the question: did she not suffer from adults smoking in the cinema in the old days?

Peter Jones
St Albans, Hertfordshire

Times:

Sir, It is clear from the attacks in Paris (reports, Jan 8) that Britain needs to adopt a far more assertive and structured stance against militant Islamism in the UK. The home secretary’s recent courageous measures to counter British “jihadists” need to be applauded and espoused as the national minimum in our legal armoury.

For their part, British Islamic institutions are still woefully complacent, offering at best no more than rhetoric and well-rehearsed bouts of condemnation. They need to do much better in countering the pernicious ideology of radical Islamism, reinforcing to young impressionable Muslim minds that the security of this country is paramount, as well as instilling unmitigated pride in our British values and national institutions.
Dr Lu’ayy Minwer Al Rimawi

(Former visiting fellow, Harvard Law School, Islamic legal studies programme) Peterborough

Sir, As a Muslim I strongly condemn the attack on the staff of Charlie Hebdo and those behind it. These terrorists do not represent me or Islam. Their wicked ideology is an existential threat to Islam itself. Part of the problem is that Islamic extremists and Islamophobes need each other in order to exist. We, the majority of ordinary people of every faith, race and colour, should stand together and say: enough is enough.
Mohammed Samaana

Belfast

Sir, David Aaronovitch (“Our cowardice helped to allow this attack”, Opinion, Jan 8) speaks for the many of us who share his beliefs (but lack the journalistic skill and the platform to express them) when he says: “This is the deal for living together. The same tolerance that allows Muslims or Methodists freedom to practise and espouse their religion is the same tolerance that allows their religion or any aspect of it to be depicted, criticised or even ridiculed.” Those who indoctrinate Islamic terrorists are fond of stating that the West will never understand them. But we understand them all too well. Extremism is not new. It flourishes wherever reason is suppressed and freedom of thought discouraged. It will always wither under the spotlight of intelligent interrogation, which of course is exactly why it invariably attempts violently to suppress it.
Robert Sutton

Markham, Notts

Sir, David Aaronovitch is quite right that the need for mutual respect means the possibility of expressing a diversity of views. So I look forward to a long series of cartoons and articles mocking the intellectual pomposity and moral emptiness of atheism.
The Rev Christopher Green
London N10

Sir, The journalists at Charlie Hebdo knew that they were under personal threat and they knew what they were standing up for. Many of us share that commitment to the ideals of liberty and freedom, and it is easy to tweet and post our support online. However, I wonder how many of us really would stand up and say “je suis Charlie” if our own personal security was directly at risk? It is an uncomfortable question to ask oneself and demonstrates the courage of those who were murdered in Paris. The foundations of democracy in Europe seem a little less robust with their passing.
Nicholas Allan
Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Sir, The universal condemnation of the shootings in Paris is taking little account of causal factors. Under the cover of free speech, secularising societies such as France sanction the persistent antagonism of the faithful of many religions. To acknowledge violence as the inevitable consequence is not to condone it but it is to understand that effects have causes and that freedoms need to be asserted empathically.
Roger Homan
Professor emeritus of religious studies, University of Brighton

Sir, Je (ne) suis pas Charlie. The outrage in Paris can be neither excused nor forgiven. Nor must be it be forgotten, but it can be explained. Those who say, act or cartoon in the name of free speech often find it convenient to omit the attendant qualification — which is that while speech should be free it should also be responsible. It is a cliché that we do not have the right to yell “Fire! Fire!” in a packed theatre even if there is a fire, as orderly exits save more lives than mad panics.

In exercising freely what we may regard as our God-given right to insult people in our way, the risk is run that they will freely exercise their God-given right to retort in their way. Those who play with fire do undertake a certain risk; as we have learnt yet again, it can be terminally naive to assume otherwise.
Tim Flinn

Garvald, East Lothian

Sir, The attack on the staff of Charlie Hebdo is utterly abhorrent. However, is extreme mockery always appropriate? In France the law of laïcité is ruthlessly applied, as in the banning of wearing the veil in workplaces and school, and where, in Paris itself, segregation rather than integration is overtly apparent. Are liberté, égalité and fraternité only the prerogative of the born and bred Français de souche rather than of all citizens who try hard to embrace French culture while retaining their own religious beliefs?

As a past and occasional current reader of both Le Canard Enchainé and Charlie Hebdo, I enjoy satirical cartoons, which enable us to take a long hard look at ourselves. However, extreme satire may risk repercussions from disaffected, angry members of a sometimes xenophobic society which, at times, alienates rather than welcomes. A lethal recipe, perhaps.
Sarah Martinelli

(French teacher)
Letchworth, Herts

Sir, Violence against freedom of speech is nothing new. In 1559 the Vatican promulgated the first “Index librorum prohibitorum”. In 1632, Galileo was prohibited from publishing his support for Copernicus’s theory that the Earth goes round the Sun rather than being at the centre of the universe. He was handed over to the tender mercies of the Inquisition and forced to recant. The Vatican finally got round to abolishing the Index in 1966.
Peter Hassell

Budleigh Salterton, Devon

Sir, The order of service at a wedding I attended last week contained a version of the Lord’s Prayer which I had not seen before. It read: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from email.” Amen to that.
Andrew Body
Ludlow, Shropshire

Sir, With regard to recognising ranks(letter, Jan 7), I was at Sandhurst for my son’s graduation and didn’t receive a single salute from the clearly bemused soldiers. We also confuse the public. Why is an air vice-marshal
(2 star) equivalent to a rear admiral when a vice-admiral is 3 star? Why do squadron leaders command flights, wing commanders squadrons and group captains stations?
Air Vice-Marshal Barry Higgs (rtd)
Cambridge

Sir, Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum says (News, Jan 1) that the simplest advice to lose weight is “to take control of yourself”. Food firms spend millions of pounds to influence our associations. Dairy Milk is “joy”, Coca-Cola is “happiness” and McDonald’s is the backdrop to every meaningful moment. I would have more optimism about the UK’s diet if Mr Fry took every weapon in the battle for our minds more seriously.
Clare Dimond
Marlborough, Wilts

Sir, Melanie Phillips is correct (Opinion, Jan 5). By distorting the historical record (The Imitation Game being a case in point) the arts world is seriously misleading the public. Films often become fact simply because Hollywood says it is so. The BBC is as guilty. Its Castles in the Skypurported to tell the story of British radar. Like the Turing farrago it too had a spurious love interest and a spy. More importantly, Robert Watson-Watt was no “weatherman” nor was any member of his team. They were either from the radio research station at Slough or were engineers and physicists.
Dr Brian Austin
West Kirby, Wirral

Sir, Your leader (“Fortune Favours the Brave”, Jan 6) rightly applauds the beneficial effect of film tax reliefs while drawing attention to the absence of sufficient sustainable British film businesses supported by British investment. Investment is not the only factor. We have a wealth of creative talent — directors, writers, producers and actors — and potentially a large audience that wants to enjoy films that are different to those from US studios. The challenge, to connect the two, is one that we must work to resolve.
Andrew Chowns
Chief executive, Directors UK

Sir, The film 47 Ronin might have lost at the box office but the tax breaks ensured that 1,630 musician hours were spent on the film in the UK. In recent years, The Hobbit, Batman and the Harry Potter films have benefited from British musical talent. Tax breaks are working.
Peter Thoms
Sessions official, Musicians’ Union

Telegraph:

NHS, doctor, junior doctor

There is a mismatch between the number of able students willing to train in medicine and the number of university places available Photo: ALAMY

SIR – With a clearly overstretched National Health Service, surely it is time to look at the resources assigned to training doctors. There is a mismatch between the number of able students willing to work within this field and the number of places available.

My 17-year-old daughter is currently going through the admissions process, and it has been illuminating to discover how difficult it is for top students to gain places. University of Bristol received 5,500 applications for just 232 places this year.

In recent years the demand for medical services has increased and will no doubt continue to do so. It is therefore high time to look at expanding the availability of relevant university courses.

Louise Mayo
London W11

SIR – Some accident and emergency departments in hospitals have had to declare a critical incident in order to deal with serious over-crowding. This is partly the result of the inability of the NHS, and particularly acute trusts, to work with social care providers.

The care-home sector has enormous potential to deliver support services that will reduce hospital admissions, enable appropriate discharge and offer a better experience for the patient, as well as better value for the taxpayer.

There is another way in which we can deliver better outcomes and more efficiency in the system, and that requires that money be apportioned differently in order to sustain our existing services.

I call on the Government and the NHS to make all the rhetoric about integration real.

Professor Martin Green
Chief Executive, Care England
London E1

SIR – The service the public values the most, our nurses, seems to be the service the NHS hierarchy values the least, which is reflected in the pay structure. We are regularly informed of the executives receiving generous salaries plus bonuses. Common sense dictates that we should reduce these salaries and give the amount deducted, and the bonus, as pay to the nurses instead. The funds are obviously there, but are simply being channelled incorrectly. This way a nurses’ strike may be avoided.

John Batty
Middle Assendon, Oxfordshire

SIR – The easiest way to fix the current NHS problems is to make it mandatory for all ministers, MPs and peers to use the NHS exclusively.

Roger Hiscock
Hayling Island, Hampshire

SIR – The text function on my new smart phone is so intelligent that it automatically knew I was an NHS surgeon. When I tapped in the word “case”, it immediately predicted the next word as “cancelled”.

Richard Bickerton FRCS
Warwick

Terror in Paris

Francois Hollande (centre left) flanked by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (right) outside the Charlie Hebdo office (Remy De La Mauviniere/AP)

SIR – Western leaders have condemned the Islamist terrorists’ attack on the Paris offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Well done. That’ll have the terrorists quaking in their boots.

Stuart Buxton
Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire

SIR – Islam means “peace, purity, submission and obedience”. The perpetrators of the outrage in Paris have broken each of those.

David J Beck
Hinckley, Leicestershire

Defence funding

SIR – On The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One last Sunday, David Cameron announced that Britain was to purchase 80-90 F‑35B aircraft for HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, and that both carriers would be operational with air wings.

Previous talk had been of only enough aircraft being purchased to equip one air wing for HMS Queen Elizabeth, no role having been decided for HMS Prince of Wales. As the estimated fly-away cost for each F-35B in 2013 was $220 million, the increase from previous estimated costs during the 2015-20 Parliament would be at least $9 billion. Due to the Government’s cuts in the Royal Navy, it would be hard-pressed to find enough support ships for one carrier task force, let alone two.

Perhaps Mr Cameron will make clear how he is going to make up the extra £15‑20 billion in funding for the second carrier task force. I hope it won’t all be from reductions in welfare benefits.

George D Lewis
Brackley, Northamptonshire

Earned bonuses

SIR – Valerie Crews (Letters, January 5) seems to misunderstand how CEO reward packages are set. In a public company the directors are appointed by shareholders to run the company with the sole intention of creating shareholder value.

Reward packages for the CEO have to be agreed by the shareholders in order for the incumbent to be suitably motivated to increase shareholder value. What would be the incentive for a CEO to create value for the shareholders if they were not rewarded for doing so? Capping CEO bonuses would inflate base salaries, resulting in shareholders paying huge sums regardless of performance.

The real problem is that targets are based on short-term performance. This approach created the greed culture in banking where it is all about maximising profit now with little thought for the future. What’s more, the major shareholders in public companies are banks and pension funds, which are not going to vote for a package that “rocks the boat” as their own packages would have to change as well.

The financial system is a closed one, and until it is broken open to new entrants who can make a difference, the status quo will remain.

Andrew Holgate
Woodley, Cheshire

Recipes for a happy morning and a long life

Get your oats: a study from Harvard University has detailed the health benefits of porridge (Alamy)

SIR – Should one make one’s daily bowl of porridge with water, milk or cream to achieve longevity?

Sandra Miles-Taylor
St Albans, Hertfordshire

SIR – Three tablespoons of porridge oats combined with milk, preferably goat’s: cook for three minutes, then add a tablespoon of syrup with three tablespoons of mixed cereals.

David Le Clercq
Bournemouth, Hampshire

SIR – My late father-in-law, a dairy farmer, always poured a healthy serving of Jamaican rum on his porridge after milking the cows on a cold winter morning.

Donald Bradshaw
Banbury, Oxfordshire

SIR – Having previously experimented with various chopped fruits, I can find nothing finer than a few glugs of Baileys liqueur on my porridge. It makes mornings so worthwhile.

Alan Belk
Leatherhead, Surrey

Change of address

SIR – We live in High Wycombe, yet a weird boundary (Letters, January 6) imposed by BT means that our road cannot receive a High Wycombe telephone directory. We are given the Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead edition, which is not even from the same county.

BT says the boundary is at their discretion and will not enter into a discussion about a possible error. We may, however, purchase a High Wycombe directory for £10. The only form of protest I have been able to make is to change my telephone provider.

Linda Lancaster
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Off on a walk

SIR – While in no way belittling the achievement of Levison Wood, who has walked the length of the Nile, we might consider that of Ewart Grogan, who walked from Cape Town to Cairo, taking two and a half years, between 1898 and 1900.

Unlike Mr Wood, he lacked television sponsorship, a film crew or any other backup. Grogan’s beloved Gertrude had been refused to him by her parents in view of his somewhat dissolute lifestyle, but he won her hand after his achievement. She is still remembered in the chain of Gertrude’s Children’s Hospitals in Kenya.

Peter Innes
Winchester, Hampshire

How’s it going?

SIR – As the former director of international news for an American TV news network, I was only ever addressed as “Bro” by one employee: our Afghan producer in Kabul, who invariably began his emails to me that way. I didn’t like to ask why.

Personally, I prefer to be called “Dude”.

Chris Hampson
Chesham, Buckinghamshire

All the fun of the fair

SIR – Boris Johnson makes the case for yet another underground line; but this will be too little too late. What is needed is a radical solution based on new technology.

We might consider an above-ground light railway, like the one in Sydney, Australia, or perhaps an ultra-light railway based on fairground ride engineering; passenger pods would soar above and through the city. Such a system would be cheaper, relatively quick to install, and much more exciting than rushing through the ground.

Brian Farmer
Chelmsford, Essex

Saucy school lessons in French courtesy of HP

(Alamy)

SIR – I read with nostalgia your report on the potential demise of HP brown sauce.

This condiment was my introduction to learning French, since in the Fifties the label on the back of the bottle was, for some strange reason, in French and read: Cette sauce de premier choix possède les plus hautes qualités digestives. C’est un assortiment de fruits d’Orient, d’épices et de vinaigre de ‘Malt’ pur. Elle est absolument pure, appétissante et délicieuse avec les viandes chaudes ou froides.

It was removed in 1980, prompting many sad letters at the loss of a French tutor to young schoolboys.

David R Grice
London SW14

SIR – Brown sauce was not launched by HP in 1903. The original recipe was devised by Frederick Gibson Garton, a Nottingham grocer, in the 1890s and was produced and sold at his shop in Sandon Street, New Basford.

Indeed, the 1891 census shows his occupation as a “pickle manufacturer”, rather than a grocer. After hearing that this sauce was popular in the Houses of Parliament dining rooms, he registered the name HP Sauce in 1895.

Garton was perhaps not the best businessman, however, and he settled his debts with the recipe for HP Sauce, which was taken back to Birmingham and relaunched by the Midlands Vinegar Company in 1903.

Sadly, this icon of Britishness is now produced in the Netherlands.

Brian Binns
Loughborough, Leicestershire

Testing Granny

SIR – Scientists have used mice to prove Granny was right to tell us to wear a scarf.

She also told us to tuck our vests into our knickers. How do you use mice to prove that?

Elizabeth Ross
Isle of Arran, North Ayrshire

Globe and Mail:

Timothy Garton Ash

Europe’s media must unite and stand against the assassin’s veto

Irish Times:

Sir, – The principles of liberté, égalité and fraternité which guide France and, in essence, the societies of all civilised nations cannot, and do not, exist in a vacuum.

They must be assiduously guarded and fought for when and where necessary.

Religious or ideological fanaticism either egregiously condones or actively perpetrates terrorist attacks.

Such fanatics all the while lambast the societies in which they live for lack of tolerance, understanding and acceptance of ideas and practices which trample on the cherished and hard-won rights and freedoms of most western countries. Such double standards must be identified again and again and be vigorously and consistently repudiated in word and action by politics and civil society at all levels.

Intolerance cannot be countered with tolerance.

All the wishful thinking, handwringing and misguided Kumbaya sentiment will not change this simple fact. – Yours, etc,

PATRICIA MULKEEN,

Ballinfull,

Sligo.

Sir, – The horrific murders in Paris must be roundly condemned. It should be possible to criticise and satirise both public figures and ideology without such actions from young men, alienated and angry as they may be.

It is equally important that the response to the attacks does not lead either to an increase in future terrorist attacks or a rise in attacks on Muslims.

Hatred and revenge are not the answer to the grief that the relatives of the victims are experiencing.

The French government could lead effectively in calming the widespread public anger and grief by reflecting on its own dubious foreign policy, which along with that of other western powers has fostered instability, sectarianism, oppression and hundreds of thousands of Muslims killed and injured, all of which has ultimately led to a rise in terrorism. We should remember that the response of the French government to the brutal suppression by Tunisian dictator Ben Ali to the calls for democracy by peaceful protesters was to offer to send 300 French paratroopers.

Serious reflection and positive actions on foreign policy by the French government would be the best response at this tragic time. – Yours, etc,

JIM ROCHE,

Irish Anti-War Movement,

PO Box 9260,

Dublin 1.

Sir, – I have little doubt that the horrific murder of Charlie Hebdo staff and the two police officers will leave a small but deranged number of Islamists rubbing their hands in delight. But let us take a deep breath before falling into their trap, where hatred, not love, dominates their souls.

The overwhelming majority of Muslims are ordinary decent people who just want to get on with their lives.

Like the Irish living in Britain during the IRA bombing campaign, undoubtedly they too feel under threat and suspicion.

Ironically, it may be Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front that benefits from this atrocity. Who knows, perhaps that was one of the terrorists’ objectives – to drive a large wedge between ordinary Muslims and the wider community. There will always be terrorism in the world, but to minimise the threat of Islamic terrorism, both Muslims and wider society need to pull together towards the common good by fighting radicalisation. – Yours, etc,

JOHN BELLEW,

Dunleer,

Co Louth.

Sir, – Can we please have no self-hating apologies for the people who committed this act? The journalists who work for the magazine are entitled to poke fun at, ridicule and insult whomever they want. The hard-won freedoms which we wish to continue to enjoy are dependant on press freedom and the scrutiny of even the most satirical wags.

We must not fall victim to sham moral equivalency. An anti-enlightenment death cult has little to do with Islam but reflects a fascistic desire to undermine and destroy democracy. It cannot be appeased. – Yours, etc,

MACK LENNON,

Sutton,

Dublin 13.

Sir , – Yesterday’s cartoon by Martyn Turner demonstrated how all cartoonists must be free to bring a smile or a thought to our lives despite such horrendous intimidation from extremist groups. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL STOREY,

Glencar,

Sligo.

Sir, – As a Muslim, I strongly condemn the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and those who perpetrated it.

These terrorists do not represent me nor do they represent Islam. Their wicked ideology is an existential threat to Islam itself.

Part of the problem is that these extremists and Islamophobes – responsible for burning mosques and attacking women wearing hijab – need each other in order to exist. We, the majority of ordinary people of every faith, race and colour, should stand together to these extremists and say enough is enough. – Yours, etc,

MOHAMMED SAMAANA,

Belfast.

Sir, – Almost every media organisation in the world will roundly condemn the Paris massacre and rant on about “free speech” but very few will take any action to negate the terrorists’ goals. All media organisations should immediately start publishing the “offending” cartoons. Otherwise the terrorists will win. – Yours, etc,

DICK KEANE,

Glenageary,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Two crucial values for the future of the French republic were attacked. First, our freedom of speech as enshrined since 1789 in our Declaration of Human Rights.

According to article 11, “Free communication of thoughts and opinions is the most precious human right”.

It is interesting to see the debates that have arisen about the definition of “freedom of speech”, what it allows, what should or should not be said. Many people consider that decency, kindness or respect should be the limitations to freedom of speech.

To me, this makes no sense. These are extremely subjective values. The offence of blasphemy was abolished in 1791 in France. There must be no qualification of freedom of speech except by law.

Once we enter the debate of respect and decency, we curtail and chip away at this fundamental right. Whatever opinion or belief French law does not ban is allowed to be expressed no matter whether it is provocative, unpopular or offensive to a majority or a minority.

If you do not approve of this opinion, if it makes you uncomfortable, you have the choice to reply, express your own opinion or ignore the newspaper with which you disagree. This is freedom, freedom of expression, freedom to debate.

The 12 people who died on January 7th died for this freedom.

The second value that was attacked yesterday is that of fraternity, the idea that Muslim and non-Muslim French citizens can live together. France is at a dangerous crossroads. It is on the brink of choking on its fears of “the other” as manipulated by fundamentalists rather than sticking by its republican values and standing strong.

Politicians sensed the immense danger yesterday. President François Hollande and former Nicolas Sarkozy were exemplary in their condemnation of the barbaric act and their appeal to calm and cohesion, while not mentioning once the name of Islam so as not to stigmatise it.

Now is not the time to call for a reinstatement of death penalty, as Marine Le Pen is doing. Now is not the time to fuel fear, anger and hatred. The French republic needs to remain strong on its values of fraternity, solidarity, freedom and acceptance while engaging in an open and intellectually honest debate on the place of Islam in the republic.

The temptation to amalgamate Muslims and Islamic fundamentalists is very strong among French people. The climate of Islamophobia has never been more palpable.

And it is spreading across Europe. Look at Germany and the anti-Islam demonstrations taking place on a weekly basis in Dresden. Look at Sweden and the attacks against four mosques since October 2014. Fear of Islam and how it fits in our western societies cannot be denied.

This is enhanced by xenophobic and inward-looking political parties that play with our fears for their political benefit. Our duty as republicans is to answer those fears in a respectful, inclusive and democratic way. Democracy is genuinely at stake.

If we do not fight for our values of freedom and fraternity, we might as well have killed those journalists ourselves. – Yours, etc,

Dr EMMANUELLE

SCHÖN-QUINLIVAN,

Department of Government,

University College Cork.

Crisis in emergency departments

A chara, – Leo Varadkar will now spend the next few weeks being distracted by the media and politically misguided Opposition leaders firing a tirade of abuse at him for legacy issues.

Perhaps now might be the time for all the naysayers to start helping collectively with a view to sorting out the health service once and for all instead of playing the blame game. – Yours, etc,

JONATHAN WORMALD,

Sutton,

Dublin 13.

Sir, – Leo Varadkar wants consultants to do twice daily ward rounds, including at weekends. Such focus on inpatient care might lead to greater throughput of admissions and fewer patients on trolleys for a while but it would also mean fewer outpatient and day clinics, fewer procedures, less supervision, less teaching and training, less administrative input, less time for paperwork and audit, less communication with other aspects of the health service and less preventive medicine. Inevitably this would increase demand for emergency inpatient services while more broadly increasing the risk of adverse health outcomes. And when that risk is realised who will be to blame?

It is not the Minister’s fault, but many entrenched managers in the HSE view requests from staff for appropriate resourcing of patient care as hassle. Many do not see the provision of appropriate healthcare as their responsibility, rather they will exhaust all other possibilities before accepting that something might be their remit. I am familiar with a recent case of a young adult in which the primary problem was intellectual disability and it took 16 months, including eight in an acute hospital inpatient bed, for the disability services to accept her (they still haven’t actually seen her). So much time and effort is wasted, so much responsibility is avoided.

One gets a sense from the HSE that as long as some staff are in place it feels it is covered, even if there is gross understaffing or deficits in service provision. Many health professionals leave the country for better pay and conditions and the HSE does not attempt to keep them here but then bemoans the fact that positions cannot be filled and higher agency rates have to be paid. Those who make decisions on resources are too far removed from the patients these decisions affect. They should really have their own twice daily clinics for facetime with patients and staff alike. – Yours, etc,

DANIEL QUINN,

Killiney, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Is it not a fact that all the problems in the health services in this country have been signalled as far back as anyone can remember? It must have been a real kick in the teeth to those working at the coalface of this well-flagged disaster to listen to Leo Varadkar asking everyone working in the health services to put their shoulders to the wheel to solve this debacle, a debacle created by deliberate policy of Government since it came into office and the unmentionable government that came before it. This Government doesn’t care as long as the books are balanced and all social services will have to grin and bear it. The people don’t matter; it’s as simple as that. – Yours, etc,

KEVIN BYRNE,

Bantry,

Cork.

Sir, – So Minister for Health Leo Varadkar says that he predicted the overcrowding crisis (“Hospitals issue to be addressed, says Varadkar”, January 8th). He called a meeting on December 23rd and then went on holiday! His first act on his return was to brief the media on his foresight, his ingenuity in getting another €3 million of taxpayers’ funds and his posture of impatience with progress. If he and the Cabinet do not regard this as a cynical exercise in passing the buck then I fear for the future of the health service and the integrity of this Government. Meetings, announcements and media briefings are a poor substitute for action. We elect politicians to act, not to posture. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL ANDERSON,

Baldoyle,

Dublin 13.

Derelict historic buildings

Sir, – You note that the problem of “dereliction and decay of historic buildings constitutes a serious problem of neglect, mainly by private landlords” (Editorial, January 3rd). It is a problem which is not restricted to Dublin nor just to historic buildings. Tolerating such a mindset of wilful abandonment is more than just a matter of aesthetics and civic pride, it also takes its toll on the cost of doing business, finding affordable accommodation, lost tax revenues and a missed opportunity to expand the construction industry.

In every town and village there are many private dwellings, offices and shops, and fine publicly owned buildings (unused or underused town halls, civic offices, court houses) standing vacant and idle for years. And without tenants these fall into dilapidation – lowering the volume and standard of the national buildings, monuments and housing stock. The crux of the problem (also as outlined in the editorial) being that responsibility is spread thinly among public bodies without consensus on what needs or can be done.

Within article 43, there is a constitutional imperative to regulate property for the common good, and therefore it would be perfectly appropriate to introduce an application of a progressive penal property tax (ie increasing by 25 per cent for every six months of dereliction or vacancy) on both historic properties and properties which were once used for dwelling or commercial purposes. This would encourage both public and private owners to renovate and renew properties, and then either sell them or put them on the rental market. This again would increase the market volume of usable properties, give employment to the construction industry, put downward pressure on rental prices and reduce the cost to taxpayers of subsidising rents.

If such a charge can be levied on water with the general aim of creating a conservation culture, there is no reason nor excuse as to why something similar could not be set against derelict and vacant property. – Yours, etc,

CIARAN WALSH,

Donard, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – An infant patient of mine is due to travel to the UK for a bone marrow transplant under the E112 scheme. This procedure could be carried out at Crumlin children’s hospital if a transplant physician were employed as all other necessary facilities and expertise are already in place. Instead, this child’s family will be disrupted and his siblings will be without their parents for months on end. The employment of a transplant physician at Crumlin hospital would lead to savings to the Irish taxpayer and would significantly lessen the burden for numerous families every year. – Yours, etc,

Dr ELLEN CRUSHELL,

Metabolic Paediatrician,

National Centre for

Inherited Metabolic

Disorders,

Temple Street Children’s

University Hospital,

Dublin 1.

Sir, – Further to “Paul Howard’s 44 life lessons” (January 6th), the elderly father of a one-time colleague had a maxim which I have recalled many times since first hearing it. “Work as if you’ll live forever and live as if you’ll die tomorrow.” A wise man indeed. – Yours, etc,

PADRAIG O’ROURKE,

Merrion Road, Dublin 4.

Sir, – Is it a reboot in the whole of the country or just in pockets of affluence? – Yours, etc,

BRIAN AHERN,

Clonsilla, Dublin 15.

Sir, – The Democratic Progressives? – Yours, etc,

BRIAN HODKINSON,

Reboge, Limerick.

Sir, – I thought that UTV Ireland was a new and additional station in Ireland rather than a replacement for UTV. Apparently not to UPC customers or Irish Times readers. – Yours, etc,

COLIN ROGAN,

Terenure, Dublin 6W.

Irish Independent:

  • 0 Comments
A child holds a poster at a service in Derry for those murdered at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris
A child holds a poster at a service in Derry for those murdered at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris

I am a Frenchman living in Ireland and I received some very kind and touching emails from Irish colleagues expressing their sympathy regarding the tragedy which took place in Paris yesterday.

However, I feel that the question of nationality is irrelevant on this matter. We should send these commiserating emails to ourselves who are supporting the democratic ideal, because when one kills the editorial team of a magazine it is the concept of democracy as we see it in the Western World that one attempts to kill.

This morning – along with the victims and their families – my sympathies go with the “Muslims of Europe” (an expression which I view as ridiculous considering the fact that if someone called me a “Christian of Europe”, I would feel like drawing his/her caricature).

In France, the majority of people who have Islam as their religion are French citizens, so were their parents and, in many cases, even their grand-parents. Still, some ignorant idiots continue to qualify them as “migrants”.

It is true that I am upset this morning, and I suppose this is one of the reasons why I am sending this email, as a form of catharsis.

The other reason is that it is time to react and, as Sartre stated, saying nothing is also acting. The victims included a well-known economist and four great cartoonists. I loved their work. I loved their irreverence. I loved their courage. I loved them. They taught me far more about life that all novelists or academics put together. Cartoons are revered in France; it is considered an art.

I listened to a cartoonist yesterday morning on RTE Radio 1 who said Wednesday’s event would stop him expressing himself on certain topics, because he has four kids. His four French colleagues also had families. However, despite the fact they had been under constant threats for the last eight years, they had not changed their satirical expressions regarding all social topics (the gods, the politicians, the average Frenchman and woman).

By limiting the choice of his topics because of an understandable and legitimate fear, this Irish cartoonist will lose his identity as an artist and will become a ‘drawing maker’.

These guys in ‘Charlie Hebdo’ did not take themselves or their work seriously. They knew the vital importance of laughs (cf. Freud).

Like most French people under the age of 60 I grew up laughing at the cartoons of two of the victims, who were superstars in France.

Cabu was a 77-year-old teenager, the epitome of gentleness and goodness, who also used to draw for children. Wolinsky – a 80-year-old spoilt, but bright child – was a ‘romantic pervert’. A few years ago a journalist asked him about his funeral plans. He replied using the traditional subtle and refined French humour. “I wish to be cremated; then I would like my wife to pour my ashes in the toilet, so as I can continue to admire her ass,” he said.

Could there be a better declaration of love? We should all have a word with our partners today on the matter.

Political correctness is another serious threat to the democratic ideal.

Gael Le Roux

Clontarf, Dublin 3

Islam is a religion of peace

Reports in the media are saying that what happened at the offices of the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ magazine in Paris yesterday was carried out by Islamic extremists, Islamic fundamentalists, religious fanatics…

I am writing because I feel I need to voice my opinion; as an Irish person and as a Muslim but, first and foremost, as a human being.

I am by no means a perfect Muslim, but I am a Muslim. I am also by no means a perfect Irish person, but I am an Irish person. Not a perfect woman, or wife or daughter or mother or sister or friend… (in no particular order). So, before your readers begin picking apart what I am about to write. I want that to be clear and, I want it to be clear that I know it. Also, I am not an Islamic scholar and in this letter I do not try to presume to speak on behalf of Muslims. I do however, want to take the time to make a few relevant and important points to all who read this: non-Muslims and Muslims alike.

Firstly, and most importantly, I condemn acts of violence against any defenceless person of any colour, race or creed. I abhor what took place at the offices of the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ magazine yesterday.

Islam is a religion of peace. Peace with Allah / God (Subhana Wa Ta’ a la, all glory be to him), peace with yourself, peace with those around you and your community and, peace in wider society. True followers of Islam do not carry out attacks like this. True followers of any religion do not carry out attacks like this.

Too often we ‘other’ people. By this, I mean we focus on what divides us or is different from us. By doing this we create barriers and distances. We miss out on all kinds of relationships. We miss out on knowing a person as a person. We miss out on understanding them: their lives, what they value and love, who they value and love, what are their disappointments, their struggles, their goals, their dreams…

However, we all, Muslims and non-Muslims, have more in common as human beings than we do differences. There is more that unites us than divides. Much, much more. Too often we forget that. All of us, too often and too easily. ‘Othering’ means we miss out on a chance of getting to know people and to understand them but, they too miss out on a chance of getting to know and understand us.

I urge all of your readers not to ‘other’ one another. Not to relate to or identify with one side and not the other because, what happened in Paris happened to human beings. It was done by human beings to human beings. People who are just like you and just like me. The whys and hows are not things I can even begin to understand. But I do know this; as long as we continue to find differences in one another and continue to separate ourselves from each other, then there is no hope that we can build relationships or know and understand each other.

And no hope that acts of violence like yesterday at the offices of the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ magazine in Paris won’t continue to happen.

Sarah Ryan

Co Cork

Moderates must unite

I have little doubt that the horrific murder of ‘Charlie Hebdo’ staff and three French policemen will have delighted a small but deranged number of Islamists.

But let us take a deep breath before falling into their trap. The overwhelming majority of Muslims are ordinary decent people who just want to get on with their lives. Like the Irish living in Britain during the IRA bombing campaign, undoubtedly they too feel under threat and suspicion.

Ironically, it may be Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front that benefits from this atrocity. Who knows, perhaps that was one of the terrorists’ objectives; to drive a large wedge between ordinary Muslims and the wider community.

There will always be terrorism in the world, but to minimise the threat of Islamic terrorism, both Muslims and wider society need to pull together towards the common good by fighting radicalisation.

John Bellew

Dunleer, Co Louth

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: