French Magazine Runs Cartoon of Mohammad In The Face of Government’s Warning About Provocation

We have long discussed the serious rollback on free speech in the West as countries like France and England profess support for free speech and the free press while prosecuting or investigating people for anti-religious speech. That conflicted message was evident today after French magazine Charlie Hebdo ran cartoons featuring Mohammad in its coverage over the deadly protests following the release of an anti-Muslim film in the United States. Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council of Muslim Faith, described the cartoons as a “new Islamophobic act” while French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (left) warned “[t]here must be freedom of speech, but I am absolutely opposed to any provocation.”

The reference to “provocation” is a loaded term in France which routinely prosecutes people for insulting or criticizing religion. Newspapers and magazines in France have long used cartoons to satirize leaders and taboo subjects. In covering the protests this month, Mohammad is the natural figures for such commentary by cartoonists. Why should cartoonists avoid Mohammad as a character while satirizing every other religious leader. You cannot have free speech with the caveat that it is free so long as it is not provocative.

Notably, this same magazine’s office was burned after the publication of a cover that made fun of Islamic law. The cover showed a bearded and turbaned cartoon figure of the Prophet Mohammed saying, “100 lashes if you’re not dying of laughter.”

Fabius went out of his way to be free speech is not really free and unlimited in France: “This freedom is expressed within the confines of the law and under the control of the courts . . .”

He stressed “I am against all provocations, especially during a period as sensitive as this one. I do not see any usefulness in such provocation . . . There must be freedom of speech, but I am absolutely opposed to any provocation.” So that standard is you can speak unless what you say is going to provoke a group or individuals? We do not need free speech to protect popular or noncontroversial thoughts. The problem is not the speech but the response to the speech. How about saying “there must be freedom of speech, but I am absolutely opposed to any retaliation”? Or better yet, “there must be freedom of speech.” Period.

Source: CNN

50 thoughts on “French Magazine Runs Cartoon of Mohammad In The Face of Government’s Warning About Provocation

  1. A big problem with the Islamic world is that they haven’t had an Enlightenment such as the West has had. Christianity 500 years ago was very brutal. It burned supposed witches. It killed and persecuted Jews and religious dissenters. But men like Madison, Paine, Jefferson, Locke, Voltaire, etc changed Christianity. We need that in the Islamic world.

  2. That conflicted message was evident today after French magazine Charlie Hebdo ran cartoons featuring Mohammad in its coverage over the deadly protests following the release of an anti-Muslim film in the United States. Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council of Muslim Faith, described the cartoons as a “new Islamophobic act” while French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (left) warned “[t]here must be freedom of speech, but I am absolutely opposed to any provocation.”
    =======================================
    Freedom of speech is provocation, as long as it isn’t insulting. And you can insult if you want, as long as it isn’t threatening.

  3. Justice Holmes,

    “But really, isn’t free speach and free expression all about provocation.”

    It might also be about people stating their opinions, concerns, ideals, wishes, beliefs, and countering others expressing the same in the hope of finding common ground.

Comments are closed.