In response to this month’s tragic events in Paris and the alarming escalation of religiously-motivated violence worldwide, VisionTV presents the powerful, two-part documentary, Jews and Money: Investigation of a Libel, following by theZoomer: Religious Fanaticism. It all begins Monday, January 19 at 9pm ET/6pm PT.
Last Sunday, watching over 1.5 million citizens and several world leaders march down Paris streets in a unified stance against terrorism and for free speech and freedom of religion was a heartening sight. However, it also brought to mind the age-old and innately troubling question of whether our varied belief systems and ethnocultural backgrounds will ever not stand in the way of peaceful co-existence. As recent, hatred-fuelled events indicate, that’s still a far-off dream.
On January 7 in Paris, eight cartoonists and journalists, along with two police officers, were murdered by two assailants at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The next day, another policewoman was shot and killed outside the city by an Islamic extremist who murdered four Jewish shoppers during a hostage crisis at a kosher supermarket. He was killed by police. Then, a final showdown at a print shop northeast of Paris ended the lives of the two brothers who stormed Charlie Hebdo. Over three terrifying days, France became the latest focal point in a very long, jagged and blood soaked timeline of merciless killing over our differences in faiths.
In the week since this tragedy, Charlie Hebdo defiantly returned to the magazine racks with another potentially incendiary cover and an unprecedented, worldwide spike in sales. Additionally, French authorities deployed 10,000 troops and 120,000 security force members to protect sensitive locations, including Jewish schools and synagogues, mosques and high traffic travel areas. Over fifty people have also been arrested for hate speech and defending terrorism. Meanwhile, Jews continue to leave France in increasing numbers and the world waits on edge for the next extremism-fuelled hot spots to erupt.
From the Dreyfus Affair at the turn of the 20th century to the murders of a Rabbi, his two sons and another young girl in Toulouse in 2012, France has often seen antisemitic activity and violence. The 2-part documentary, Jews and Money: Investigation of a Libel, a cornerstone of VisionTV’s hard-hitting, eye-opening Human Rights Series, launches from profiling one particularly heinous 2006 crime against Jewish Parisian salesman, Ilan Halimi, to an exploration of a belief system that has inappropriately labeled an entire ethno-religious group. Award-winning investigative journalist Martin Himel also takes a recent, in-depth look at this disturbing phenomenon in France and in other parts of Europe in the 4-part series, Jew Bashing: The New Antisemitism.
Religiously motivated violence and terrorism have made regular international headlines for as long as world news has been reported but, never have they permeated day to day life as they have in the past year. From the Middle East to Africa, Australia to Europe, and here in North America, extremists have taken innocent lives in sudden, harrowing attacks. Still, there are stories of heroism and selflessness that provide hope. Lassana Bathily, a Malian Muslim who helped hostages hide and stay safe in the besieged Jewish supermarket last week provided a shining example that where there is horror, there can also be humanity.