CBLDF Joins Condemnation of Charlie Hebdo Attack

(C) Jean Jullien

(C) Jean Jullien

In the wake of the attack on the Paris offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the death of 12 people, including cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Wolinski, Tignous, and Honoré, CBLDF has joined a coalition led by the National Coalition Against Censorship to condemn the attack.

Charlie Hebdo has long been committed to using satire to comment on current events, and nothing was sacred: The paper has frequently been criticized for including depictions of the prophet Muhammad. Despite the criticism and threats — the Paris office was firebombed in 2011 — the publishers and staff of Charlie Hebdo remained committed to the artistic expression of its contributors. Today’s attack shocked the world and has been soundly condemned. NCAC issued a statement condemning the attacks and calling for a commitment to free expression, and CBLDF is among the signatories.

“The attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices is tragic,” says CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein, “but it is also proof of just how powerful cartoons and cartoonists can be. Despite threats and prior attacks, the publishers, editors, and cartoonists of Charlie Hedbo never relented in using satire to question the world around them. CBLDF stands with Charlie Hebdo and their dedication to free expression. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families and colleagues.”

The statement follows in its entirety:

Anyone who values freedom of expression is horrified by the terrorist attacks on the offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Early reports indicate that ten of the magazine’s staffers were killed, including editor Stéphane Charbonnier. Two police officers were also killed on the scene.

The magazine has a long history of publishing sharp satirical work that no doubt shocks and offends many readers. The magazine has published material mocking the Pope, Jesus Christ and French political figures, among others.  In 2011 their website was hacked and their offices firebombed after publication of an issue ‘guest edited’ by Muhammad. The magazine remained committed to publishing material some might find offensive or inflammatory.

Some reports say the attackers identified themselves as being affiliated with Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate and were heard saying, “We have avenged the prophet.”

After the 2011 firebomb attack, French prime minister François Fillon called freedom of expression “an inalienable right in our democracy” and that “all attacks on the freedom of the press must be condemned with the greatest firmness.”

That commitment — in France and anywhere else — should not waver in the face of today’s brutality. The National Coalition Against Censorship and many other organizations committed to the fundamental value of free expression condemn these hideous and barbaric attacks, which represent a chilling and extreme assault on freedom of speech. The failure to stand up for free expression emboldens those who seek to attack and undermine it.

“List in formation. Endorsers as of 1/7/15.”

American Booksellers Association

American Booksellers for Free Expression

American Civil Liberties Union

American Library Association

Americans United for Separation of Church & State

Association of American Publishers

Association of American University Presses

Center for Democracy & Technology

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

DKT Liberty Project

FirstAmendment.com/Walters Law Group

Freedom to Read Foundation

Free Expression Policy Project

Liberty Coalition

Media Law Resource Center

National Coalition Against Censorship

People For the American Way

Project Censored/Media Freedom Foundation

Student Press Law Center

Tully Center for Free Expression

Woodhull Sexual Freedom Foundation

As of this writing, the perpetrators of this crime remain at large. CBLDF will continue to follow the story.