Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Full support for French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on the day of trial for publishing Mohammed cartoons

We ought to support the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo , which goes on trial in Paris today in a civil lawsuit by the Grand Mosque of Paris and the Union of Islamic Organisations of France. This is an inconditional support for this leftist publication as it is accused of deliberately trying to hurt Muslims “in their collective attachment to their beliefs” by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a special issue a year ago.

Most of the cartoons were the ones which the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published in September 2005, sparking protests in many Muslim countries. The front page one was by French cartoonist Jean “Cabu” Cabut.

Charlie Hebdo is committed to free expression and to the right to satire and we condemn the many different kinds of intimidation that have been targeted at this weekly. The public area must remain open not only to dialogue but also to controversy.

Charlie Hebdo’s decision to reprint the Danish cartoons was taken at an especially fraught moment. Some 10 news media had been banned or suspended in countries such as Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia for reproducing the cartoons. Journalists has been arrested in countries such as Jordan, Algeria and Yemen.

By publishing the cartoons, Charlie Hebdo chose to resist the attempt to impose silence by means of threats. This is what counts. The public arena must remain free.

The trial that opens today is a test of freedom of expression in France and we hope that the courts will protect this principle, as the Danish judges did on 26 October 2006 when they acquitted Jyllands-Posten’s editors and ruled that its Mohammed cartoons were not offensive to Muslims.

Ever since the cartoons first appeared in Jyllands-Posten, there has been a never-ending debate as to whether it is permissible to publish opinion pieces or cartoons that could offend the religious sensibilities of part of the population. After the publication of Robert Redeker’s op-ed piece in Le Figaro last September, the French courts are now having to take a position on this issue.

In today’s trial, the plaintiffs are requesting 30,000 euros in damages and the publication of key passages from the court’s ruling. Charlie Hebdo published its special issue on the cartoons one week after they were published by the French daily France Soir on 1 February 2006, in a decision that led to the dismissal France Soir’s editor, Jacques Lefranc.

PS: One could imagine that this trial would give an opportunity for the French Presidential candidates to air their views on Islamo-fascism and religious fundamentalism. They don't and they won't - 'Leave Islam out of the Presidential campaign', requested Dalil Boubakeur, Head of the Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman - the national Muslim council. Amen.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well done, NCF.