French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo said Monday it was pressing charges after receiving fresh death threats over a cartoon of the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan who faces rape allegations.
The controversial magazine was the subject of a horrific terrorist attack in 2015, after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, which is prohibited by Islamic hadiths, and has now fallen victim to further threats after publishing more content deemed to be “Islamophobic”.
Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, the magazine’s editor, said the threats and hate mail had “never really stopped” after the January 2015 terrorist attack in which 12 people were gunned down at its offices.
Charlie Hebdo has a long and colourful history of getting itself into trouble, and even has its a page dedicated to every occasion in which the magazine has faced tribunals, threats and bans over its 20 year history.
The worldwide Je Suis Charlie solidarity campaign that came after the 2015 attack, demonstrated reminded victims of authoritarian belief systems that freedom of speech is one of the West’s highest values, and that the press, especially satirical publications, must have the freedom to publish any content they want to, even the ability to criticise religion.
The publication has vowed to be a “punch in the face” against those “who try to stop us thinking,” it said in a statement. “Against those who fear imagination. Against those who don’t like us to laugh.”
There is a pandemic of anti freedom of thought and expression rhetoric occurring in Europe, and worldwide, and an important message to take from the work of Charlie Hebdo is one of resilience, solidarity and commitment to promoting liberty; the essence of a tolerant, progressive society
The work of Charlie Hebdo must be admired, for it continues to defend freedom of expression, despite death threats and a terror attack that killed fighters of freedom. We must be careful to prevent freedom of speech from being replaced by a willingness to ban and condemn.