The French satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris was firebombed this week by what are believed to be Muslim extremists for printing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in a four-page supplement with other cartoons as part of its “freedom to poke fun” series.
No one has claimed responsibility in the attack.
The cartoon of Mohammad showed a speech bubble with the words: “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter.”
The publication of cartoons of Mohammad in a Danish newspaper in 2005 sparked unrest in the Muslim world in which at least 50 people were killed.
To his credit, the head of the Paris Mosque, Dalil Boubakeur, denounced the attack: “I am extremely attached to freedom of the press, even if the press is not always tender with Muslims, Islam or the Paris Mosque.”
He and others however criticized the decision to run the cartoon. As stated in the past, I do not believe it is right to criticize such authors because they choose to mock religion or religious leaders. We have seen an increase in blasphemy prosecutions, including the support of the Obama Administration in such laws. While defending free speech in the 2005 controversy, the West has steadily rolled back on free speech rights, particularly with respect to criticism of religion.