Different Views on Charlie Hebdo, Freedom of Speech

Different Views on Charlie Hebdo, Freedom of Speech

Paris attacks: Pope Francis says freedom of speech has limits


The pontiff told journalists his assistant could expect a punch if he cursed his mother

The pontiff said religions had to be treated with respect, so that people’s faiths were not insulted or ridiculed.

To illustrate his point, he told journalists that his assistant could expect a punch if he cursed his mother.

The remarks came as funerals were held for four people killed in the attack by militant Islamists.

‘You cannot provoke’

Speaking to journalists flying with him to the Philippines, Pope Francis said last week’s attacks were an “aberration”, and such horrific violence in God’s name could not be justified.

He staunchly defended freedom of expression, but then he said there were limits, especially when people mocked religion.

“If my good friend Doctor Gasparri [who organises the Pope’s trips] speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched,” he said, throwing a pretend punch at the doctor, who was standing beside him.

“You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. There is a limit.”

Earlier President Francois Hollande vowed to protect Muslims who, he said, were the main victims of fanaticism, along with people of other religions.

French President Hollande: "Muslims are the first victims of fanaticism, fundamentalism and intolerance"

French President Hollande: “Muslims are the first victims of fanaticism, fundamentalism and intolerance”

Speaking at the Arab World Institute, he said anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic acts should be condemned and punished.

Charlie Hebdo published a new edition on Wednesday, with an image on the cover showing the Prophet Muhammad weeping while holding a sign saying “I am Charlie”, and below the headline “All is forgiven”.

Mr Hollande declared Charlie Hebdo magazine “reborn” after the magazine sold out in hours.

But some Muslims were angered by the edition and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu condemned it on Thursday as an “open provocation”.

In Pakistan on Thursday, lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution condemning the publication of the images, and several hundred demonstrators from a religious party called for cartoonists who drew pictures of the Prophet Muhammad to be hanged.

Source: BBC News

15 January 2015 Last updated at 18:19

Tariq Ramadan condemns Charlie Hebdo massacre but criticises ‘inconsistency’ of political reaction

Tariq-Ramadan - Professor at Oxford University

Tariq-Ramadan – Professor at Oxford University

Nothing justifies the killing of innocent civilians, but Western governments must be more consistent in their treatment of human life, says Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme earlier this morning, Prof Ramadan condemned the attack on the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, saying that, “these are very difficult times and a very sad situation” and expressing his “deepest sympathy for the victims’ families.”

“We must start by condemning what happened and what was done in the name of Islam… what they did in fact was to betray our principles, our values and the overall message of Islam,” he stated.

Whilst vocal in his criticism of the perpetrators, Prof Ramadan highlighted the importance of a calm and coordinated response to the attack, and to not allow ordinary Muslims to bear the brunt of the actions of a few violent extremists.

“What is important for us on this day of mourning, in France but also in the West, is to understand that what is happening now and what will come afterwards is not only a Muslim business; it’s our responsibility to come together to know who are our enemies when it comes to violent extremism and not to go to…confusion in our discourse… and politicians, journalists and intellectuals are responsible and there is a shared responsibility,” he stressed.

Prof Ramadan also outlined the need for a more nuanced reaction to the atrocities, and for there to be a real attempt to understand the grievances that might lead such people to commit such extreme acts of violence. In particular, he emphasised that the divergent responses to the deaths of Westerners and those of other individuals around the globe may be partly to blame for the growing appeal of extremist ideology.

“We need to have an overall vision of what is happening around the world, and for us – you as a British citizen and me as a Swiss citizen, and as European citizens – we have to come together and to say [that] as much as we are condemning what is happening here, the value of lives in Iraq or in Syria or around the world, in Palestine or wherever, in Africa, have the same value as our lives. And we have to ask our governments for consistency, and then to come to social policy when it comes to equal citizenship to act against racism and anti-Semitism and anti-Islam… I think there is a lack of consistency even in our emotional reactions to the death of people.”

The Today Programme presenter, James Naughtie, responded that such an emphasis on equality of life might in fact be a slippery slope towards justifying the behaviour of such radicals.

“When you talk about looking at individual lives being of equal value, from whatever culture, religion, or whichever country they come from, the difficulty is that for some people – including those who perpetrated the dreadful attacks in Paris yesterday – that inevitably leads to a comparison: If there is an atrocity committed by the West in Iraq or in Syria, then it justifies what happened in the streets of Paris, or in a magazine office in Paris yesterday. And the difficulty of avoiding those comparisons with bloody conclusions is very great,” Naughtie stated.

Prof Ramadan responded that this should not be the case, and that upholding the equal value of all human life should not lead to any form of justification or absolution for those who believe they have the authority to judge who should live and who should die.

“I think we have to avoid going to such comparisons and ending with justification,” said Ramadan, adding that, “nothing can justify the killing of innocent people.”

Source: www.middleeastmonitor.com

Thursday, 08 January 2015 16:51


In Israel, Charlie Hebdo would not have even had the right to exist

In France, freedom of speech is considered a universal right, an Israeli law bans ‘offending religious sentiments.’


Georges Wolinski, the leading caricaturist at Charlie Hebdo, was among those murdered in the terror attacks in Paris last week.

Neither Superman, Charlie Brown, Asterix nor “The Adventures of Tintin”spoke to me the way Wolinski’s black-and-white sketches did — with his distorted, exaggerated figures openly revealing their dark urges. This half-Polish, half-Tunisian Jew possessed an anarchist spirit that left no sacred cow standing.

Every community was insulted by his brush. His position toward readers was this: Does it bother you? So don’t read it! And if you want to ridicule me back, I won’t sue you.”

After the terrible massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the murders that followed at the Jewish market, concerned people have spoken out over the fate of France’s Jews. Don’t they see the time has come to move to Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told them after the murder at the Toulouse school?

And the sooner the better! But if Wolinski had moved to Israel and opened a Charlie weekly here, he would have had a problem.

In FranIn Israel, as we know, there is no constitution to protect freedom of speech. The religious parties opposed such a constitution in 1948, but the Israeli law against offending religious sentiments is a legacy of the British Mandate. The law was imported by the British colonialists from another colony – India – in 1936 to prevent a recurrence of religious and racial riots like those here in 1929.ce, freedom of speech is considered a universal right, while in Israel such a weekly would not be able to exist because of the Israeli law that bans “offending religious sentiments.” During my years as a cartoonist I have had to become familiar with the laws restricting the Israeli press.

But note that the law against offending religious sentiments is not a law against racism, smut or slander (there are other laws for that). This is a very specific draconian law, a real anti-Wolinski law. The law prohibits illustrating Moses, Jesus or Mohammed in a way that would hurt the feelings of believers.

Were the 1929 riots a one-time event? And therefore might it be possible to abolish the emergency laws? If any American, French or British person thought so, reality slapped him in the face when in 1994 another massacre happened in that same city, Hebron.

So were the British right in their legislation? When various groups live cheek by jowl in a small area, should expression be censored? Should consideration for our neighbors be more sacred than freedom of speech?

Source: www.haaretz,com

By | Jan. 12, 2015 | 1:44 AM |


Malian Muslim hailed for saving lives at Paris market


Lassana Bathily:

Lassana Bathily, the Malian Muslim employee who helped save the lives of several customers during last week’s deadly attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris, will be awarded French nationality, France’s Interior Bernard Cazeneuve announced Thursday.


A quick-thinking Malian employee who helped shield shoppers from a gunman at a Paris kosher store and then briefed police has been hailed as a hero in the wake of France’s deadliest terrorist attacks in decades.

Lassana Bathily’s striking story of life-saving courage filtered out in the days that followed the deadly hostage crisis at the Hyper Casher supermarket in eastern Paris.

The 24-year-old shop assistant was in the underground stockroom on Friday when gunman Amédy Coulibaly burst in upstairs, firing from a Kalashnikov.

“When he (the gunman) entered the store, people came rushing down saying there was an armed madman,” Bathily told FRANCE 24. “I thought the only option was to hide in the freezer, so I switched it off and got everyone inside.”

Bathily, who arrived in France at the age of 16 in 2006, said he tried to persuade some to follow him as he sneaked out of the building using a goods lift, but they were too scared to move.

“I knew the emergency exits so I took my chance, but if the gunman had seen me I would have been dead,” he said.

Hid customers

In an interview with the French news agency AFP, Bathily described hearing gunfire above as he worked in the basement.

“I was down in the basement for five minutes when I heard shots up there. … After the problems at Charlie Hebdo, I thought maybe the same thing was happening to us. At the same time, if not a few minutes later, I saw everyone running down. They started screaming, “They are there, they are there, they’re in the shop!, ” he said.

Bathily described fleeing through a small but noisy freight lift. The frightened shoppers he harbored in the refrigerator chose to remain behind, with the lights turned off to avoid detection as gunman Coulibaly loomed overhead on the store’s main floor.

Outside, a police force still reeling from the deadly attack on the magazine offices and the fatal shooting of a policewoman, handcuffed Bathily for 90 minutes until people who knew him confirmed he was not the attacker. Coulibaly was also black, French-speaking and of Malian origin.

With his hands freed, Bathily then drew a map of the store for police, detailing the offices, aisles and cash registers.

He pointed them to where the group was hidden in the basement. After four years of working there and praying within its walls during his shifts, he knew the shop by heart.

“I do not think they are Muslims, they are bandits. They are bandits. I am a Muslim and this is not our religion, our religion is not based on this. A terrorist is not a Muslim. Anyone can be a terrorist, anyone. These are bandits,” he said.

Coulibaly was killed in a stand-off with French security forces.

 Latest update : 2015-01-12
Victoria Macchi
Last updated on: January 15, 2015 2:42 PM

Charlie Hebdo’s Muhammad cartoons – to print or not to print?

Editorial boards and TV networks have spent the last two days struggling with the dilemma of whether to air or print Charlie Hebdo’s contentious Muhammad cartoons. DW examines a legal and ethical minefield.

Last week, few news outlets would have dared print caricatures like the ones on the front of the Charlie Hebdo magazine. That is after all, what made the satirical French magazine so unique. On Thursday, the lowly Berlin tabloid B.Z. gained international attention and praise on social media for covering its front page with Charlie Hebdo covers – while Twitter users demanded that major media networks follow suit.

Editorial meetings everywhere faced the same ethical question – publish the photos out of solidarity with the murdered colleagues in Paris, or refuse to risk the offense and possibly the safety of its employees? The world’s biggest news agency Associated Press, for one, did not change its “longstanding policy” of “not mov[ing] deliberately provocative images on the wire.” The New York Times also said that “after careful consideration,” it had decided that “describing the cartoons” would be enough.

The BBC has a policy of not depicting Muhammad in any form – a rule that was roundly criticized this week on the network’s panel discussion show “Question Time.” There has been no official statement on the matter, but many noticed conspiratorially on Friday that the BBC’s editorial guidelines page was suddenly out of action.

On the CNN website, meanwhile, worldwide president Jeff Zucker summed up the dilemma: “Journalistically, every bone says we want to use and should use” the cartoons. But “as managers, protecting and taking care of the safety of our employees around the world is more important right now.”

In the face of much outrage at such decisions, many media outlets took the opposite view, and published online picture galleries of Charlie Hebdo covers. Deutsche Welle, for its part, loosened its policy of not publishing Muhammad caricatures, as long as such images “are necessary to the reporting.”

Journalistic ethics

The German Press Council – which publishes Germany’s Press Code and deals with complaints against the German press – has a clear take on the matter. “From what I have seen, [the cartoons] are absolutely acceptable as far as press ethics is concerned,” spokesman Oliver Schlappat told DW. “We have had no complaints up to now, so we have not looked into individual cases.”

“Of course, a defamation of religion can happen, and if it does happen, then that is a violation of our Code,” he added. “But with satire, there is a political or a social point behind such a caricature – as long as that is the case, and as long as no-one is being defamed, or a religion is not being made ridiculous – our position is that it is acceptable. I personally don’t see that in these caricatures.”

Schlappat also had praise for the deft way the B.Z. handled the dilemma. “The B.Z. did of course approach it quite aggressively, but personally I think they did it very skillfully too,” he said. “They didn’t take one particular Islam-critical cover, they showed that Charlie Hebdo attacked a very wide range of issues – they printed the images, but in a context that offered the reader a view of how critical that magazine is.”


 Freedom to versus freedom fromThe legal situation in Germany, meanwhile, is complex. Laws regulating the freedom of speech are in a constant struggle against laws regulating defamation and the right to complain against perceived abuse – personal or religious.

“You can’t say that any particular caricature of Muhammad is banned – German law doesn’t say that,” said Steffen Bunnenberg, partner at the Berlin-based media law firm Bunnenberg and Bertram.

“The individual case is always the standard. Any court would look carefully at the caricature – how it was drawn, why it was drawn – is there some special public interest in it?”

There is a necessary amount of subjectivity when it comes to the interpretation of laws. “There are courts that are more ‘victim-friendly,’ that are more likely to ban caricatures, but others that are more reluctant to restrict freedom of speech,” he said.

But satire and polemic are generally protected under German law, and German courts that have dealt with such cases have generally erred on the side of freedom of speech. Cases where caricatures have been held up at right-wing anti-Islamic demonstrations have not resulted in prosecution.

“It’s also acceptable to use significantly sharper means, to express something using memorable or strong formulations, or indeed derogatory criticism, or exaggerated polemic,” Bunnenberg told DW.

“All these kinds of keywords are often used in such rulings. Even if the plaintiff feels they have been offended, that’s no reason not to allow publication.”

Theoretically, someone could now sue B.Z. or any other German newspaper on the grounds of religious defamation, but it seems unlikely they would be successful. A media organization would be likely to argue that printing the cartoons is in the public interest and part of relevant reportage after the Charlie Hebdo killings.

“Maybe some court might decide in favor [of banning publication of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons], but I think the likelihood is very minor,” said Bunnenberg. “All the cartoons associated with the attack all have a topical relevancy, but there might also be caricatures that only serve to defame. I don’t want to rule it out, but I think it’s very unlikely that they would ban the cartoons published so far.”

And Bunnenberg adds, the press will find strength in numbers: “The more that do it, the stronger they are – the solidarity is very important.”




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