Hats off to Charlie Hebdo. This is tomorrow’s cover:
Housed in its temporary offices at Liberation, Charlie Hebdo looks set to publish on schedule tomorrow, uninterrupted by last week’s devastating firebomb.
Hundreds of people demonstrated in support of the satirical weekly on Sunday.
The president of SOS Racism was among the supporters, declaring that
In a democracy, the right to blaspheme is absolute.
Editor “Charb” said,
We need a level playing field. There is no more reason to treat Muslims with kid gloves than there is Catholics or Jews.
Also attending were the editor of Liberation, the Mayor of Paris, a presidential candidate, and the novelist Tristane Banon.
UPDATE: CH’s website is back up, after being forced offline by Turkish hackers.
The French satirical paper has reacted defiantly to the firebombing of its offices by teaming up with Liberation to produce a special supplement which reproduces the controversial images. The 4-page wraparound was distributed with Thursday’s edition of the daily newspaper.
The staff of Charlie Hebdo insisted on their “right to poke fun”, and the editor, Stephane Charbonnier, said in an article contained in the extra:
We thought the lines had moved and that maybe there would be more respect for our satirical work, our right to mock. Freedom to have a good laugh is as important as freedom of speech.
Liberation‘s editor, Nicolas Demorand, said his paper’s offices were opened to Charlie Hebdo staff as “a basic gesture of solidarity”.
They will also print an extra 175,000 copies of Wednesday’s edition of Charlie Hebdo, as the initial print run of 75,000 sold out quickly.
Nice work, firebombers.
The offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo have been firebombed, causing extensive damage, because the latest edition, entitled Charia Hebdo, carried a cartoon of Mohammed on the cover.
A single petrol bomb was thrown through the window at approximately 3am. There were no injuries.
This is not the first time Charlie Hebdo has been on the receiving end of Muslim rage. MWW covered extensively the protests, and the trial and acquittal of its editor Philippe Val which followed the publication of this special edition:
Reporters Without Borders reports that a Paris appeal court has once again acquitted Philippe Val, editor of Charlie Hebdo, on charges of insulting Muslims.
The appeal against the original verdict was brought be the Union of Islamic Organisations of France. Perhaps now they will let it go.
(Hat tip for this and the Motoons update below, to the Comics Reporter)
The Paris Grand Mosque accepted the March 07 ruling, but it was appealed by the Union of Islamic Organisations of France and later by the Saudi-based World Muslim League. At the start of yesterday’s hearing the court ruled that the WML was not an admissible plaintiff, so the UOIF was left to fight alone.
The verdict is expected next month.
This is Charlie Hebdo’s third appearance in a French court since it first published the Motoons (and other prophet-based funnies) in Feb 2006.
Sfar sat through the entire procedure, recording the testimonies of all the witnesses. The unique result is a graphic record entitled Greffier which was published at the end of March.
(Hat tip, The Comics Reporter)
Oliver Kamm has a question about yesterday’s Charlie Hebdo acquittal which is worth examining:
Note, however, one aspect of the judgement, according to the BBC report, that troubles me: ‘The cartoons were covered by freedom of expression laws and were not an attack on Islam, but fundamentalists, it said.’ Do freedom of expression laws not cover an attack on Islam? It is essential that they should. There is nothing wrong with an attack on Islam (or any other sacred belief). There is nothing wrong with giving offence to religious groups. The judgement appears implicitly to reject these principles. Defenders of a free society must assert them militantly.
Quite so. It is a pity that the judge did not make that more clear.
David Thompson takes the point further:
Religious freedom is presumed to entail sparing believers any hint that others do not share their beliefs, and indeed may find them ludicrous. There is, apparently, no corresponding obligation for believers to embrace ideas that are not clearly risible, monstrous or disgusting. When given a moment’s thought, this protectionist claim is decidedly fascistic in its practical implications. If believers wish to be insulated from any differing opinion, and even statements of fact, they would have to create a closed religious order, somewhere atop a mountain where reality can to some extent be avoided.
Having said all that, there is still cause to celebrate the fact that the French court delivered a very important, and in most aspects correct, verdict.
First reports are filtering through from the net that Charlie Hebdo has been cleared of the charge of inciting hatred. As expected, the court accepted CH’s defence that the cartoons were attacking Islamic terrorism and not Muslims in general.
Union of Islamic Organizations in France (UOIF) – according to Philippe Val the more radical of the two bodies which filed the suit – has vowed to appeal the decision. They seem to have a taste for public humiliation, don’t they?
UPDATE: Abdurahman Jafar of the Muslim Council of Britain almost welcomed the decision, but displayed an all-too-common confusion about the nature of religion and race in his statement:
I don’t think it was ever a strong case. It’s about the right to publish and freedom of expression. It’s about respecting certain cultural, racial norms and sensitivities. Personally, I think it’s the right decision. It’s not a legal issue; it’s a moral one.
Respecting “racial norms”? In what way is getting upset about a drawing a “racial norm”?
Charlie Hebdo editor Philippe Val reveals in an Op Ed in the Wall Street Journal that the recent suit against his satirical magazine was actively encouraged by the French government.
Before he published the offending issue Val was summoned to see the prime minister’s chief of staff at a Paris hotel. He refused to go, and went ahead with the issue in spite of an attempted block by Muslim organisations.
After the cartoons appeared, the Muslim groups attacked me by filing suit against me on racism charges. President Jacques Chirac, who campaigned for this just-completed trial, offered them the services of his own personal lawyer, Francis Szpiner. Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Grand Mosque, who always took orders from the Élysée, was apparently not convinced this case was necessary; he told me as much several times. But Mr. Boubakeur was under pressure from the fundamentalists at the UOIF (Union of Islamic Organizations of France), who had come to dominate the French Council of Muslim Worship, which he heads, and Mr. Chirac. Why? Only he knows. We can only guess. Probably to nurture his friendships in the Middle East and win arms contracts for France, while at home playing to Muslim public opinion that’s supposedly in thrall to fundamentalism.
The French government’s extraordinary behaviour contrasts starkly with the outspoken cross-party support the satirical magazine received during the trial last month.
The judgement is due this afternoon.