The fight for freedom of expression continues

FFrance has symbolically regained control of the dramatic events in January 2015 with the “Charlie Hebdo” trial in the Paris Palace of Justice. At that time, the government seemed driven by the Islamist terrorists who fooled the security forces for three long days. The breeding ground for terrorism was examined with meticulous precision in the trial against the perpetrators. Most of the eleven convicted were just henchmen. But they created an environment of social neglect, crime and loss of any sense of justice, which the three assassins took advantage of. Not only for the bereaved of the seventeen fatalities, the judgment carries the message that the rule of law will prevail.

But the fight for that freedom of speech is by no means won with the judgment. By reprinting the Mohammed cartoons, the editorial team of “Charlie Hebdo” raised the question of how the freedom for mockery and criticism is measured in a democratic society. The debate following the beheading of the history teacher Samuel Paty shows how great the temptation to self-censorship is. Teachers have already stated that they no longer want to show caricatures in the freedom of the press class. Paty had also come to the conclusion that in future he would prefer to use China as an example to explain freedom of the press.

The Turkish President led a campaign because Paris approved the reprint of the cartoons. Emmanuel Macron is criticized in the American press for defending the drawings in the name of freedom of expression. The “New York Times” even decided in June 2019 to ban cartoons from the paper.

It is therefore noteworthy that the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris has asked the “Charlie Hebdo” editorial team to continue drawing and caricaturing. The Muslims do not benefit from censorship and false consideration, warned Hafiz Chemseddine. This is exactly what it is about: it should not be the Islamists who determine where the boundaries of freedom of expression are.


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