Many Questions On the 7th of January two gunmen attacked the office of Charlie Hebdo, a French weekly magazine. The shooters were two brothers who belonged to the Yemeni branch of the Islamist terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. The attack resulted in 11 casualties and many injured, while the shooters were shot a few days later in an exchange of fire with the police. Charlie Hebdo is a satire magazine, and its jokes and cartoons and its secular approach are widely considered anti-religious. Social media went into a frenzy with the hashtag ‘Je suis Charlie’. Four days later two million people including tens of world leaders participated in a rally for national unity in Paris, and over three million participated across France. A lot of questions were raised by this tragic event and its aftermath that we will look at in this article.
How Free Should Free Speech be When it Comes to Religion?
Let’s start with the obvious: What was the motive of the shooters? According to witness reports of the attack, one of the shooters said ‘You are going to pay for insulting the Prophet’. Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons and jokes are regarded as quite controversial, as they mock all religions, whether Islam, Christianity or Judaism. When respect to Islam, they repeatedly published cartoons of Mohammed, which infuriated Muslim communities worldwide as images of the Prophet are not allowed to be depicted according to Islamic teachings. Not only was the magazine sued for this, its editor-in-chief, who was killed in the attack, had been on the hit list of the Al-Qaeda branch in Yemen for some time.
This post was published at Acting-Man on May 30, 2015.