Publishing cartoons: Is it still worth the effort?

Following the murder of Samuel Paty, in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, the international press is wondering: should we still take the risk of caricaturing Muhammad? The British weekly The Observer and the Italian magazine Formiche disagree.

A question of safety and respect

“If possible, better one less cartoon.” The position taken by the Italian review Formiche is clear. Publish caricatures of Muhammad? The game is no longer worth the candle. “We have come to a critical point. Freedom of expression in a democracy is sacred, but shouldn't satire itself set limits? I say to ask and not to suffer them. Limits, which doesn't mean self-censorship. ” This is a question of security, of realism in the face of a situation that has become perilous, but also of respect for Muslims: “We must take into account the sensitivity of practitioners of any religion, because what for us is satire, for others is a simple provocation. ” As for the author of the vignettes in question, Charlie Hebdo, "his interpretation of what satire" strikes Formiche as quite peculiar. “They had represented the [nearly 300] victims of the 2016 earthquake in Amatrice like lasagna. A despicable choice. ”

The right to shock is necessary

In the wake of this kind of attack, “there are always those who argue that freedom of expression is not worth it’, ”notes British journalist Kenan Malik. A regrettable posture, he asserts in The Observer. “At such times, it behooves us to do the opposite, which is to stand up for the freedom of expression and the freedom to offend.” According to him, "what is called 'contempt of a community' often hides dissension even within these communities". By refusing to defend the fundamental principles of freedom, some on the left betray "the progressives within the minorities and thus encourage the reactionaries", assures Kenan Malik in the columns of the weekly directed to the left. “The more society endorses outrage, the more people there will be to say they are outraged, and the more deadly their outrage will be.” At the same time, “this cowardice is a driving force behind Islamophobia because it fuels the racist idea that all Muslims are reactionary”. And to conclude: “We must reject the obscurantists of both camps. In a pluralistic society, almost anything that is said is likely to be shocking to someone. If we want a plural society, we must defend the freedom to shock. ”

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