#JeSuisMila…a simple hashtag that seems to divide France into two main camps: those who are “Mila” and those who aren’t. Mila is a French teenager, who expressed her views on religion by posting several small videos on Instagram. Once the videos posted, she got a lot of death threats and was targeted by hate speech.
Here is what she says in the video: “I hate religions…Islam is just shit…there is hate in it…I say what I think…Your religion is just shit…one can not be racist towards a religion…”.
In France, as in all over Europe, neither hate speech nor death threats are allowed. Nobody has the right to spread hate speech and death threats and therefore Mila is clearly a victim. Any single person who targeted Mila has to be judged and condemned. A lot of people started using the #JeSuisMila (=ImMila) hashtag to support Mila. But a different hashtag has emerged from the social media, which is #JeNeSuisPasMila (=#ImNotMila). These are two very different standpoints and a lot of politicians and public figures expressed their views on the subject. Some support Mila, some don’t.
#JeSuisMila is a hashtag inspired from a different and very important hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, which was used to support the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after the Paris terrorist attacks that happened on 7 January 2015. People, using the “Je suis Charlie” expression, support the freedom of expression and the idea that blasphemy is a right, which means that we can say whatever we want against religions. Everybody has the right to satirize religions, a right which is balanced by defamation laws. This right’s existence has a political importance: it helps to neutralize powers, like organised religions, from interfering with individual liberties. Also, the right to blasphemy protects the freedom of expression.
So, it is now clear why people use the #JeSuisChalie and #JeSuisMila expressions: they support and protect the freedom of expression. Does this mean that those who refuse to use the #JeSuisChalie or #JeSuisMila expressions are necessarily supporting terrorism or death threats? The answer is NO, because there are many people who refuse to use these expressions simply because they think that just like Mila or Chalie Hebdo have the right to satirize or criticize religions, Muslims and their supporters have the right to dislike it or to feel hurt by those satirical pictures or harsh criticism. This means that people, who refuse to use the #JeSuisMila hashtag, prefer some people’s feelings to some others’ rights. The problem is that there isn’t any political or social justification in opposing fundamental liberties, like the right to blasphemy, to basic feelings, like feeling hurt because of someone else’s opinions, because fundamental liberties guarantee the freedoms of individuals representing both camps, while basic feelings guarantee nothing. Moreover, criticizing a religion and criticizing individuals are two different things. How can one be hurt if he/she is not even criticized? What is criticized is a religion and religions are not persons. It is impossible to hurt or to insult a religion.
To conclude, in terms of the protection of fundamental rights there isn’t any valid reason to refuse #JeSuisCharlie and #JeSuisMila expressions. Moreover, using them, means protecting fundamental liberties that belong to everyone, including those who feel hurt.