Paris – France’s Hollande Defends Freedom Of Speech After Anti-Hebdo Clashes Abroad


    French president Francois Hollande (R)  and president of the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab institute), Jack Lang (L)  walk past the Arab Institute building bearing the message 'We are Charlie', in Paris, France, 15 January 2015.  EPA/IAN LANGSDON/POOLParis – French President Francois Hollande said on Saturday that anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters in other countries do not understand France’s attachment to freedom of speech.

    He was speaking a day after the satirical weekly’s publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad sparked violent clashes, including deaths, in some Muslim countries.

    Demand has surged for Charlie Hebdo’s first issue since two militant gunmen burst into its weekly editorial conference and shot dead 12 people at the start of three days of violence that shocked France.

    A cartoon image of Mohammad on its front page outraged many in the Muslim world, triggering demonstrations that turned violent in Algeria, Niger and Pakistan on Friday.

    “We’ve supported these countries in the fight against terrorism,” Hollande said during a visit to the southern city of Tulle, traditionally his political fiefdom.

    “I still want to express my solidarity (towards them), but at the same time France has principles and values, in particular freedom of expression.”

    The shootings in Paris were prompted by Charlie Hebdo’s previous publication of Mohammad cartoons, a depiction many Muslims consider blasphemous.

    Hollande has received a big poll boost for his handling of the attacks with his popularity rating surging to its highest level in nearly one and a half years.

    His rating has jumped to 34 percent from 24 percent before the attacks, according to a BVA poll published on Saturday.

    Produced by survivors of the attack, the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo shows a cartoon of a tearful Mohammad holding a “Je suis Charlie” sign under the words “All is forgiven.”

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    1. They may want to defend freedom of speech, but they are not going to change extremists minds to be peaceful, loving, caring people. There are millions of extremists in the world from the 1.5 billion, who are not scared of dying, and actually see it as a good thing, and a great excuse to exit their boring lives. It is simpler all round not to publish cartoons of their god.

    2. Freedom of speech is not a carte blanche to insult everybody and everything. Even France has libel laws. But the cartoonists are militant atheists who make/ made a point of insulting religion in general, using freedom of speech to do this. In other words, the state is at fault by not regulating. In France, as in most states of the USA and Israel, it is a criminal offence to insult the national flag. Now I ask you: Is that even sane? not being permitted to express one’s feelings about a shmatte (that is a symbol of people’s nationalistic beliefs), when at the same time you may insult people’s religious beliefs? There indeed should be every right to engage in the most pentetrating criticism of anything, provided it is done in a respectful manner and permits response. But the atheist French state historically encourages provoking religious controversy in order to strengthen itself against the church. So now they will have to learn that some people value their religion over their lives and, unfortunately for them, they have welcomed millions of such people into their country.


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