Monday, June 27

“Freedom of expression at all costs” – Emmanuel Carrère


Emmanuel Carrère, novelist, filmmaker and court reporter, has just received the 2021 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature. On the occasion of the awards ceremony in Oviedo, Spain, he gave euronews an exclusive interview to talk about the trial of the attacks of November 2015 and their projects for the future.

To see Carrère’s full interview, click on the media player above.

In your last book, “Yoga”, you mention the attack on Charlie Hebdo, it somehow interrupts your story. Perhaps you also participated, or at least followed, the tributes paid to Samuel Paty, the teacher who was assassinated for showing cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in a class on freedom of expression. How can this almost sacred concept of freedom of expression work with religious freedom, which is another very important right? Can you criticize a religion? Is it possible to blaspheme without insulting others?

Emmanuel Carrère:

“Ah! That’s a great question. Wait … Sure, the right to blaspheme is an absolute part of our republican and pre-republican tradition. Voltaire mentions it, for example. I tend to consider it inalienable regardless. The risk of Of course offending people is part of it. You could say, of course, that you have to respect freedom of expression taking into account the feelings of others, but despite everything, what I prefer between the two is freedom of thought and expression. So of course I’m giving you a yes and a no, but at the end of the day, I’m more on the side of free speech at all costs. “

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He is now following the November 2015 attack trial for a French weekly as a columnist. Is this the subject of your next book? If so, do you already know what it will look like? Would you dare to mix fiction or even use self-fiction, as in your previous books, with the harsh reality of the Bataclan attacks, which in some respects has become a national scar? Could you make this narrative your own?

Emmanuel Carrère:

“I’m not entirely sure that this work ends up becoming a book, but it is possible, as it is already somewhere in the back of my mind. I have no idea what it will look like because we are simply at the beginning, it is a bit premature to discuss that now … Besides, adding fiction or docu-fiction wouldn’t be … Actually, that’s something I never did! When I wrote The adversary, for example, there was no fiction at all! ”

What have you retained from this first month of testing, what is your overall impression?

Emmanuel Carrère:

“What is about to end is a period, a very particular sequence, of testimonies from the civil parties, the survivors, the families of the victims. Everything is extremely emotional and intense. So this is taking its toll on all of us. that we are following the judgment. When we go home sometimes, we have some kind of, I don’t know how to describe it, we burst into tears. We are witnessing something really terrible. It’s terrible, but that’s not all.. What I mean is that we have also witnessed moments of exceptional and admirable humanity. Starting at the end of next week, and the following week, we will begin to see the side of the accused. The accused will be questioned, so switch to a phase completely different from the trial. A trial like this is very surprising because you have the impression that you are trying to uncover every part of what happened in a few hours on that night of November 13 and from all angles. emotionally difficult mind, but also constantly exciting. “

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What, if anything, do you expect from this essay?

Emmanuel Carrère:

“That’s funny because the question you just asked is what are they really doing to the civil parties who are testifying. In the end, they all answer the question,” What do you expect from the trial? “The answers, which I would say are Mine is also that justice must be done, that is, the sentences must be proportional to the facts committed. Taking that into account, the people who are in front of the judges are not the people who they actually committed the murders. That doesn’t excuse them at all, but they’re not the guys who killed because those guys are all dead. It also means that justice must be done according to the rules of the law. It’s as if the honor of this trial was to make sure that it goes well, that the accused are defended, that they defend themselves well … Everyone is demanding this, even the people who have been hurt the most. There is also a desire to understand things a little better, to prevent other attacks. I only half believe that it is possible. Some people say, and deep down perhaps it is what I have retained the most, is that they want to constitute a kind of collective narrative of this event. But perhaps it is a kind of distortion. professional training of mine. “

Yes, that’s the writer’s point of view …

Emmanuel Carrère:

“Yes, but it is not only my point of view, it is also that of many people who are testifying. They say that for them it is one of the important aspects …”

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To tell the story …

Emmanuel Carrère:

“Yes, because until now everyone has their own story to tell and hearing all the other stories is very important and very valuable. I mean, it’s not just my profession that makes this dimension so important.”

Last question, Lao-tzu would have said “The goal is not the goal, the goal is the way.” You know this quote.

Emmanuel Carrère:

“I know and I totally agree with that.”

Where are you on your way?

Emmanuel Carrère:

“Well let’s say I keep walking and stumbling and limping, that’s our thing. That question brings us to the beginning of this conversation, to the desire to improve things a little and by doing this, to improve the little things. Things around us. It is a modest and immense ambition. “


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