Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. HereÔŅĹs how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

The Paris killings: who are the real heroes of press freedom?

By Jamil Flores - posted Thursday, 15 January 2015


In the wake of the terrorist assault last week on the offices of the French magazine “Charlie Hebdo,” in which 12 persons were killed, many people all over the world were moved to say, in an outpouring of anger at the perpetrators and sympathy for the victims, “I am Charlie.”

Apart from two police officers, who were slain as they responded to the attack, the victims were cartoonists and editors marked for death by Muslim extremists because of their slanderous depiction of the Prophet of Islam in past issues of the magazine.

Before the bloody week was over, the youngest of the terrorists had surrendered to the police. Three terrorists had been killed in two simultaneous shootouts with the police, after they had gunned down a policewoman and at least four more civilians.

Advertisement

What can you make of all that gore?

Speaking right after the Charlie Hebdo attack, US President Barack Obama called it “an attack on journalists … (and one that) underscores the degree to which these terrorists fear freedom — of speech and of the press. But … a universal belief in the freedom of expression is something that can’t be silenced because of the senseless violence of the few.”

French President Francois Hollande also described the Charlie Hebdo killings as “an attack on freedom.”

Vienna-based Anis Bajrektarevic, professor in international law and global political studies, saw the attack as a demonstration of Islamofascism. “That these individuals are allegedly of Arab-Muslim origin does not make them less fascist, less European, nor does it [absolve] Europe… of responsibility.” He lamented that Europe had not listened to voices calling for moderation and dialogue.

A group of French imams, joined by the Vatican Council for Interreligious Dialogue, condemned the attack and called for “responsible media to provide information that is respectful of religions, their followers and their practices, thus fostering a culture of encounter.” They also expressed compassion for the victims and their families.

That’s the way to go. Like the imams and the cardinals I condemn the slaughter of civilians and peace officers and feel compassion for all the victims and their families.

Advertisement

But I can’t say, “I am Charlie Hebdo.” That would be a travesty of the work of Steven Sotloff and James Foley, the journalists beheaded last year by the Islamic State. Sotloff, Foley and the many journalists all over the world who lost their lives speaking truth to power — those are the real heroes of freedom of expression.

Can’t Charlie Hebdo be justified as satire? I know what satire is. It’s the socially valuable art of exposing the pompous to ridicule. My own favorite object of satire is Kim Jong-un, the North Korean strongman. But I’ll never portray him in pornographic terms. That would garble the social message.

Charlie Hebdo depicting Catholic nuns masturbating, the Pope wearing a condom and the Prophet of Islam in unspeakable poses isn’t satire. It’s malicious slander that should be legally actionable in any democratic society.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All


Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

23 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Jamil Maidan Flores is a Jakarta-based literary writer whose interests include philosophy and foreign policy.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 23 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy