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. Well, Justice Holmes, do you know who is actually converting in masses, and also marrying muslim men? Well, white, American women. They realize that most Muslim men would not treat them like the sexual objects this society tells them they are. They would treat them nobly and respectfully, as the Quran tells them to do and the Prophet showed them by example. You, Justice Holmes, have never cursed, beaten up or threatened a spouse i am sure, because you sir are obviously perfect, unlike us. Good for you.!

  2. Well if Islam is gaining ground all the women better find another planet.
    But really, isn’t free speach and free expression all about provocation. Blasphemy laws and violent riots and murders are inappropriate reactions to comedy. I really don’t care has offended you are, grow up.

  3. The media are passing around videos and urging their twinnies to keep the heat up, keep Americans confused.

    An example is the federal judge in NY striking down the indefinite detention law, and the U.S. fighting the Afghan judges because those judges, like the NY federal judge, say indefinite detention without due process is something pigs do:

    The US is currently attempting to turn over to the Afghan government control of the lawless prison system the US has long maintained in Bagram and other parts of that country. But that effort is running into a serious problem: namely, the US wants the prisoners to remain there in cages without charges, but the Afghans are insisting that indefinite detention violates their belief in due process. From an Associated Press article Monday headlined “Afghans reject US-favored administrative detention”:

    “An Afghan judicial panel ruled Monday that administrative detention violates Afghan law, potentially thwarting a US plan to hand over Afghan detainees that American officials believe should continue to be held without a trial.

    “President Hamid Karzai’s office announced in a statement that a top-level judicial panel met earlier in the day and decided that the detention of Afghan citizens without a court trial ‘has not been foreseen in Afghan laws’ and therefore could not be used.

    “The US government has long held Afghans captured in operations inside the country without trial, arguing that they are enemy combatants and therefore can be detained for as long as their release might pose a danger to the international coalition …

    “A US official confirmed that the transfer of detainees had paused because of the dispute.”

    Is that not amazing? On the very same day that the Obama DOJ fights vigorously in US courts for the right to imprison people without charges, the Afghan government fights just as vigorously for basic due process.

    (Glenn Greenwald, Guardian, Common Dreams).

  4. Minute Bol,

    While I have no stats to support me, my view of the protectionistic tactics of all religions is still my view. Secularlism is winning ground.

    I will not deny the strong magnetism of the practice of Islam in adhering to brotherhood, equality, charity, etc. Just as you, I feel, are repelled by the deeds done in the name of Mohammed.

    A small point: the CIA deep cover officer, Ismael Jones, said at the close of his five years in the ME, that many officers had converted to Islam. No explanation given other than its power to attract.

    I hope you are greeted by more than my voice alone.

    Salaam alekam. But not Allah Akbar, which would be blasphemy from a non-believer I fear.

    1. Wa aleykum salam, idealist.

      I don’t doubt your point that secularism is gaining ground. it could be that we, both are right, that secularism and Islam are both gaining strength.
      I know that most of the people I know, especially from Jewish backgrounds are not practicing anything. I also know that I am meeting and hearing more and more converts to the islamic faith, and they stand out because they are mostly white or hispanic.

      Ironically, 911 and the ensuing war on terror, has meshed the two worlds together, the western and the eastern. people are naturally curious about the religion, and our soldiers in those lands get to experience it firsthand without the demonization process of fox News & al. Hence,for a while, the english Quran was the best and most consistently selling book at barnes and nobles.

      They see, as we do, that it is not the foreign cult they fear, rather it is an extension of christianism and Judaism, which they know about, and that Muhamad is a prophet like Moses and Jesus. Furthermore, they like the directness of it, which removes all the middle men out of religion and tells the believer to establish a link directly to God, praise Him and talk to Him without the need for a third party, whether priest or imam.
      Finally, as you mention, the idea of brotherhood and community is very strong for human beings, and to be embraced and supported is also very appealing.

      You may say Allah Akbar freely, if your intent is to say that God is great. There is only one God, and He is the god of everyone, as He created everyone. Anyone who’d take offense to that ought to read his Quran a bit closer.

  5. Suzanne I doubt Jesus would think what you said was appropriate, love one another as I have loved you, you can;t say this is a christian country then follow with offense to others, the two are, or should be, mutially exclusive.
    Minute bol absent a perceived or actual threat against the president you can say what you want, merely follow the threads from the Turley blog to see that.
    (by the way this is NOT a christian country no matter what Fox news tells you.)

    1. My point was simply that freedom of speech is very vague, imprecise entity whose definition is in the hands of he who has power to curtail it. The news have reported past occurencies where a person has made comments deemed to be threatening by the secret service that, the person, I and others have thought to be merely offensive. Good points however.

  6. This IS a Christian country,what i dont get is why these over the top violent zealots have the cheek to start violence over a cartoon,cor what a laugh the muslims in Tooting are nothing like these Terrorists,who will never stop me saying exactly what i like. UP yours mohammed, hahaha im laughing thats banned in taliban land.

    1. We are all proud to have you in this great country of ours, Suzanne. We do need all people, gifted or not.

  7. Thanks Idealist707 for the welcome back. There are many muslims like me who support freedom of speech, to the extent of supporting Salman Rushdie’s right to write the satanic verses, or this guy’ s right to make any movie he wants. I am a lover of comedy, and have watched comedy shows and related that make fun of Islam. I’d even laugh along.
    As someone who comes from a culture and a religion where politeness, respect of other people and culture/religions is a must, I do cringe when the pope is so made fun of in this country, or Jesus’ name (Peace be upon him) is used in vain.
    Did you know that Egypt has a law that prohibits disparaging either of the three Abrahamic religions? An egyptian was shown on tv asking if they don’t make fun of Jesus or Moses, while would Mohamad be then made fun of? Fair question.
    And here we are talking about freedom of speech when there really isn’t such a thing. If anyone of us stood outside right now yelling curse worlds, before long we’d find ourselves in the back of a cop’s car. Can one says what they will about the president and not receive a visit from a badge?
    As i said earlier, humanity it is that takes it personally when something dear to them is disparaged, and while some would not react when their god or prophet is targeted, the same people would load and shoot to avenge disrespect to their wife, mother, kids, boss, friend….What’s the difference between Sudanese stoning the US embassy over a religious offense and the Chinese stoning the Japanese embassy over a territorial offense?
    To misquote Jesus (AS) let he who never reacted to offense cast the first stone.Finally, I know this may freak some people out, but Islam is the fastest growing religion on earth, and is always gaining converts, from every corner of the world, and every age and type of people. They are obviously attracted by the ideals of the faith, not the violent reaction of the uneducated in the faith.

  8. Who, the fundamentalist muslims who believe in terror , and thankfully have not acted in the US recently or the right wing christians in this country who insist this is a christian natiion and want to impose their ‘christian values” (like personhood for a ferttilized egg)?

  9. leejcarroll, You have it backwards. They are trying to impose their theocratic views on us. The internet has changed the world and folks need to deal w/ that.

  10. Rafflaw I agree with you, here in the US there should be free speech, period, no restrictions (absent the yelling in theater exceptions) but it is not our place to impose our beliefs on other countries and that is what the professor, and others, seem to think should be the case.

  11. You either have free speech, or you don’t. There is no in betweens. Free speech does not include “free speech zones” or laws that outlaw criticism of religion of any kind. Justice Douglas free speech is what I favor.

  12. MikeD said it right (I believe) :we must look at these reactions in the context of the country(s) in which these protesters live.
    In the US we have freedom of speech On other threads people write about not thinking we have the right to import democracy to other countries that do not want it, or us. This is the same.
    They see it as provocation then that is how they see it and we see what the results are. This french cartoonist, and publication, have the right, under French law, best as I can tell from the original post(s) to say what they will, (absent ‘hate speech’) but speech also carries with it the ability to know when something is best left unsaid or said later. You don’t say to someone with ALS, for instance, as a friend of mine had, “I hope you get well real soon.” (ALS is a fatal disease). You don’t send out these cartoons when the middle east is already in turmoil and you know that what you have published will be seen as provocative.

  13. I think that Islam and Christianity have a mutual problem. People are increasingly contenting themselves with lives without them, or just the warmth of relating to others with similar views.

    They are simply losing ground vv the total populace.

    As the big guy in the sky is replaced by science, cell phones, pop music and education, their fate is sealed.

    So without saying the word “conspiracy”, then the tool of external enemy is revived. Old hatreds exist even longer than doctrinal adherence. Good strategy.

    Any resemblance to the tool used to control us? Seems a familiar one through all recorded history.
    Zenophobism and the dire use thereof.

  14. MikeS and others,

    Thanks for what you write.

    Let me add another view of the events in Egypt:

    We can never know how the past would have developed, but if Nassar had been successful in his completing his path of secularization, education, etc, then Egypt would be a different nation in terms of the populace being freed from their religious persecutors. (Nassar died of a heartattack or assassination?)

    DemocracyNow whcgise to send an Egyptian producer to the Tahrir Square during the uprising, who then chose to interview the educated participants there. We met thus those who were leading the movement there.

    According to them, the Salfists and the Brotherhood had been thrown out by themselves after a brief attempt to take over the square.

    Defeat, not at all. They went back to their villages, bided their time, while agitating and bullying with

    religious words, and won the elections.

    A very few maniacal can make large headlines. History proves that. And great movements can also have similar origins, both Jesus and Mohammed prove that.

    Educating the people and learning them to participate is a goal not attained lightly, obviously NOT EVEN IN AMERICA.

    Advice would take another comment or two. Nuf’ said.

  15. A merry yule or yuletide was said in England. No Christ connection, rather pagan. And a Merry Christmas had become a secularized greeting for the majority. An excellent lesson in social engineering or an overreaction to the now forbidden N word???

    BTW God jul is still the only one used here in Sweden.

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