By coincidence my copy of Private Eye dropped through my letter box just as I was hearing of the the tragic news from Paris .
Charlie Hebdo ; French for Weekly Charlie) is a French satirical weekly newspaper, featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes. Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, butunlike the eye the publication is strongly antireligious and left-wing, publishing articles on the extreme right,Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, politics, culture, etc. According to its former editor, Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier), the magazine's editorial viewpoint reflects "all components of left wing pluralism, and even abstainers"
In September 2012, the newspaper published a series of satirical cartoons of Muhammed, some of which feature nude caricatures of him. Given that this came days after a series of attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East, purportedly in response to the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims, the French government decided to increase security at certain French embassies, as well as to close the French embassies, consulates, cultural centers, and international schools in about 20 Muslim countries. In addition, riot police surrounded the offices of the magazine to protect against possible attacks.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticised the magazine's decision, saying,
"In France, there is a principle of freedom of expression, which should not be undermined. In the present context, given this absurd video that has been aired, strong emotions have been awakened in many Muslim countries. Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?"I imagine many as i do would before this attack would have agreed with Monsieur Fabius it is hard for us to understand the hurt even the most moderate Muslim might feel even with a simple image of their prophet.
But this attack was not a protest or a even a violent demonstration it was deliberate murder of people who felt that If they lived in a Liberal Democracy they should not be constrained by religious sensibilities.
All fundamentalism is wrong whatever Religion or Non-religion and people should have the right to criticise and satirize
It is important to note there may be a thin line at times between satire and bigotry and we must always take into account whether we are poking fun at religion especially fanatics and being openly racist.
But the events in Paris may now mean that those of us who have long criticised those who we see as inflaming the situation by deeply offending Muslims must now defend the right to do so.
We have a right to defend our Liberal Democracy I started this piece by quoting Voltaire,1694 -1778 the French philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state.
Today his words are as relevant as ever.