Good sense and a win for secularism in the French courts
One of the fundamental things that makes our society free is the right to mock and satirise just about any thing the furore of those cartoons is still playing out in various court rooms and I am delighted at this result . After treating the Brigitte case with perhaps too much leniency, this has helped to redeem the French legal system in my opinion.
Cartoons did not incite hatred, French court rules
Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
Friday March 23, 2007
A French court yesterday ruled in favour of a satirical weekly that printed cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, rejecting accusations by Islamic groups that the newspaper incited hatred against Muslims.The Paris-based Charlie-Hebdo and its director, Philippe Val, had been accused of “publicly abusing a group of people because of their religion”. Val had risked a six-month prison sentence and a fine of up to €22,000 (£14,930).
But the court decided that Charlie-Hebdo showed no intention of insulting the Muslim community with the caricatures, several of which appeared first in a Danish newspaper in 2005, provoking violent protests in Asia, Africa and the Middle East in which 50 people were killed.
Charlie-Hebdo ran the drawings in February 2006, also featuring an original front page showing Muhammad with his head in his hands, crying and saying: “It’s hard to be loved by idiots.” The caption was “Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists.”The case, brought by the Muslim World League, the Mosque of Paris and the Union of Islamic Organisations of France, had become a campaigning opportunity as candidates preparing for the presidential elections defended France’s commitment to secularism and free speech in a country with Europe’s largest Muslim community. The president, Jacques Chirac, had spoken out over the cartoons’ publication, urging “responsibility, respect and measures to avoid all that could injure the convictions of another”.
But in the trial, all key political parties showed support for Charlie-Hebdo. The defence read a letter of support from the conservative interior minister and presidential candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, who said he preferred “an excess of caricatures to an absence of caricatures”.
The left-leaning daily Libération republished the cartoons in support of Charlie-Hebdo on the first day of the trial.
Mr Val called the court’s decision a victory for secular French Muslims. Lhaj Thami Breze, of the Union of Islamic Organisations of France, said he would appeal.
In September, a Danish court rejected a lawsuit against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper that first printed the cartoons.
See the cartoons
The cartoons can be seen at Wikipedia