No, Charlie Hebdo’s editorial is not racist

Everyone is going berserk over Charlie Hebdo’s latest editorial, describing it as a racist attack on all Muslims. Actually it’s a critique of European self-censorship, especially in relation to Islam.

It’s about how the fear of appearing Islamophobic has led people to stifle their discomfort with Islamic practices, like the wearing of the ‘total, all-encompassing veil’ (which I have a problem with) or the spread of ham-free restaurants (which I’m more chilled out about). And it’s about how this chilling of discussion around Islam encourages a climate of mutual apprehension and tension in European communities, where non-Muslims are implicitly told to keep their concerns to themselves while Muslims increasingly come to live in a kind of protective bubble of non-criticism or just non-discussion. It says this is bad for community life. I think that’s a good point.