What is “Charlie Hebdo”?


 The attacks were uncalled for and had pushed the price of freedom of speech very much higher. But to understand the violent reaction from all quarters, have a read at The Daily Mail’s summary of the French satirical publication.

“Charlie Hebdo has become a byword for offensive statements in France after taking several highly provocative swipes at Islam.

The newspaper once named Prophet Mohammed as its guest editor, published cartoons of the holy figure in the nude, and once renamed itself Sharia Hebdo with the cover slogan ‘100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter’.

The controversy began in 2006 when the publication reprinted now-infamous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed by Danish artist Kurt Westergaard.

When the images originally appeared they lead to days of protests across the Middle East and in Western cities. The decision to reprint the images landed the then-editor in court under anti-terror laws, though he was later acquitted.

The Hebdo offices were burned to the ground in 2011 when attackers used Molotov cocktails to start a blaze early in the morning of November 2.

There was nobody in the building at the time, and the target was instead thought to be the newspaper’s computer system, which was completely destroyed.

Riot police were forced to stand guard outside the building for days following the attack, as the editors took a defiant stance, choosing to reprint the cartoon images multiple times.

In 2012 they again printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed as a deliberately provocative gesture while violent protests were taking place across the Middle East.

The following year the newspaper’s office again had to be surrounded by riot officers after they published a cartoon booklet depicting the Prohpet naked as a baby and being pushed in a wheelchair.

On the final page of the booklet there was a note from the editor, Stephane Charbonnier, saying the images were ‘halal’ because Muslims had worked on them, and that they were factually accurate as they had been derived from descriptions in the Koran.

The satirical publication, widely seen as France’s answer to Private Eye, prides itself on a mixture of tongue-in-cheek reporting and investigative journalism.

Hebdo’s current office building has no notices on the door to prevent a repeat of the attacks that have occurred in the past.

In an interview with De Volkskrant in January 2013, Mr Charbonnier revealed he had been placed under constant police protection for four months after one of the cartoon issues was published.

He shrugged off criticism that he was only publishing the images to gain notoriety for Hebdo, and insisted that he was instead defending the right to free speech.

Mr Charbonnier pointed out that the newspaper had poked fun at feminism, nuclear energy and homeland security, but the Islam issues always attracted the most publicity. ” (From The Daily Mail)

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had made the following statement this morning: “The Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, France yesterday could be a backlash against the French satirical magazine’s provocation towards Islam…”


“Do they need to make fun of Prophet Muhammad even when they know it hurts Muslims. We respect their religion and they must respect ours,” quoted the premier.

Should there be a limit to the freedom of speech? What are your thoughts?


  1. There can be no absolute freedom of speech. Any form of freedom must have qualifications to how far it can go as it could otherwise bring about horrible consequences, not only to ourself but also to innocent ones. How could one be allowed to say anything under the guise of freedom of speech without due respect to how his words or actions could harm or hurt someone else.

    It is reported in today’s Straits Times, as in other sources of media, that the editor and cartoonists of
    Charlie Hebdo, were fearless in wanting to defend this freedom even at the risk of losing their lives. So they were “brave”. But did they not know or did they not care that they could potentially open up many other related people to similar risks too. Would the unrelated who were gunned down together with the editor and cartoonists in Paris be willing to die too?

    As shown again and again, the militants or terrorists would kill related or unrelated ones whom they deem to have insulted their religion or their people. The militants / terrorists may still kill even when not provoked but for goodness sake let us not add fuel to oil by willfully provoking them.

    I deplore this slaughter but oh may we be more sensible in championing the so-called freedom of speech at all means.

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