"Laughing to death" a tribute to Charlie Hebdo, the freedom of expression and the political humour, one year after the murderous attack, was organized on Tuesday, January 12, in the European Parliament by SYRIZA MEP, Stelios Kouloglou and the independent German MEP, Martin Sonneborn
Stelios Kouloglou expressed its difficulty to talk about such an unpleasant event and added that the murdered Charlie Hebdo cartoonists would prefer to be remembered with laughter and not with lamentations.
Invited to the panel discussion were:
Journalist and author, Maryse Wolinski, wife of the assassinated cartoonist, Georges Wolinski, said, referring to the title of the tribute «Laughing to Death» that this is exactly what happened to her husband on January 7th and that the freedom to laugh with everything and the freedom of expression must remain alive. She also blamed the French authorities for negligence in the matter of the protection of the magazine, despite the repeated death threats they had received in the past and for lack of information to the relatives of the victims. «We must continue to fight against terror» she added, «otherwise we play the game of the Islamic State».
Andy Bichlbaum, one of the two American activists, The Yes Men, who, using political humour, have set up some of the most famous hoaxes of the last decades. Earlier in the day, he impersonated in a fake press conference, the consultant of Global Security Response, Archibald Schumpeter, as part of the antiwar hoax organized together with MEP Stelios Kouloglou at the European Parliament in the presence of dozens of international media. Commenting on the reaction of the French Prime Minister, Francois Hollande, after the terrorist attacks of November 13, Bichlbaum talked about governments' lack of learning from recent history, comparing to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US and the reaction of the American President, Bush, to start the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. "If we want to do something against terrorism, we must see what really lies behind it" he said, evoking also the traces of colonialism that still persist in the Middle East.
The leading Belgian cartoonist, Pierre Kroll, who knew personally the assassinated Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, made regarding the freedom of expression, the following proposal: "There is no problem if you don't like something, but obviously don't go and kill the one who does what you don't like. It sounds a bit comical, but it could be a realistic proposition. Perhaps one day we'll have newspapers which, like cigarette packs, will write on the first page: Attention, page 4 could shock a Muslim, page 6 a Catholic, page 7 a homosexual, page 8 women, page 10 people with disabilities, page 11 Africans and after all these warnings, you can read the newspaper in peace. "
German MEP, comedian and former director of the satirical magazine Titanic, Martin Sonneborn, said that the attacks on Charlie Hebdo not only did not work as a deterrent but it was an extra incentive to continue political satire.
The two co-organizers didn't fail to joke about the relations between Greece - Germany and the negotiations between the two countries on the issue of the Greek economic crisis. "I'm here just because Stelios needed the money. Normally, he would organize the event by himself, but he needed additional 2000 euros. That's why we are co-organizers." said Martin Sonneborn. "You know, I had to try very hard to get that money from Martin. Actually he was counting every euro. I said, 'Let's give 2000 euros each. - No, he said, not 2000 Euros, 1980! So we were negotiating for a long time" replied Kouloglou, who closed the tribute, with the hope "next year to celebrate something more pleasant such as the forgiveness of the Greek Debt by Germany."
Also present at the tribute were the SYRIZA MEP and vice president of the European Parliament, Dimitris Papadimoulis, Cypriot MEP of AKEL, Takis Hadjigeorgiou, German MEP and chairman of the Group of the European Left, Gabi Zimmer and the independent German MEP of the European Left, Stefan Eck.
The tribute was accompanied by the projection of short presentations - video and of the latest Yes Men movie, Yes men are Revolting
Watch here two short videos of the events:
Charlie Hebdo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-83FP07UcEw&feature=youtu.be
Charlie Hebdo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/131481887@N02/sets/72157662910928480
Video and photos: Vasileios Katsardis