September 24, 2012

Charlie Hebdo has angered Muslims

Charlie Hebdo is not a person.  Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine in France and it has angered Muslims with an editorial cartoon.  The magazine follows the French tradition of skewering religion.  Free speech in France, is under a microscope as a result.

Conservative Christians might find themselves in an awkward position of having to defend those who would attack religion, or else those who would attack religious disrespect.  French Christians no doubt have felt Charlie Hebdo's sting in the past.
Many French newspapers have rushed to the defence of Charlie Hebdo after the weekly satirical paper published cartoons showing the Prophet Muhammad.

Others, however, accuse the paper of acting irresponsibly in the current context and run front-page headlines warning of the consequences.

A front-page editorial in the centre-left daily Le Monde says the "fundamental" principle of freedom of expression outweighs any other concerns, including religious ones.

The fact that religions may be subjected not just to criticism but also to ridicule has been "clear since Voltaire", it says.

"Whatever people may think of Charlie Hebdo's editorial choices... the only conceivable limit to its freedom is that which the courts might judge to be justified," the paper concludes...

Other papers emphasise the need to act responsibly.

A front-page editorial by Yves Threard published by the centre-right daily Le Figaro says publishing such cartoons is "as easy as it is irresponsible". Resorting to "silly provocations" to respond to Islamists' attempts at intimidation means "falling into their trap", the paper judges.

A commentary by the writer Jean-François Bouthors in the best-selling regional daily Ouest France warns that "claiming to defend the freedom of expression by in turn engaging in a game of contempt, sarcasm and stigmatisation is very wrong".

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