Violence Against Freedom of Speech

by genevieve.asselin on Février 8, 2016 - 10:54pm

No doubts, fundamental beliefs can be a fragile subject. Some conflicts can occur when these values contrast, since our life choices are based on these values and beliefs. The attack on the satiric journal Charlie Hebdo has been really controversial. One thing is sure, both of the parties did not use the most delicate way to express their disaffection towards each other’s beliefs.

The tragedy happened on the January 7, 2015. Two brothers, Cherif and Said Kouachi, reacted violently to cartoons presented in the journal Charlie Hebdo. The men killed the editor Stephane Charbonnier and his body guard, they also killed four other cartoonists and three other editorial and a guest who was there for a meeting. In sum twelve persons were murdered.  After the killing, the police arrived, but the brothers escaped. On the morning of January 9th, the two brothers were killed (“Charlie Hebdo attack: Three days of terror”).

The main cause of discontent and violence of the two brothers is about the representation of their Prophet Muhammed in the journal. For a majority of the Muslims, the image of their Prophet is considered as sacrilegious (Graham-Harrison). A main issue is being raised about liberty of expression and respect of beliefs. Should we advocate our liberty of expression or should we focus more on the respect of religion and accept the fact that some Muslims are not comfortable with the idea of their God represented in a cartoon.  

Considering the fact that the image of Muhammed is indecent for the Muslims, the jihadist brothers wanted to avenge their God for the publications of Charlie Hebdo. They screamed: "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad" and "God is Great" in Arabic.

The French are known to never be at loss of words and to be really direct in their sayings. After the killing, the journal responded by another cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed. Cleary, Charlie Hebdo did not want to abdicate. Philippe Val the former director of Charlie Hebdo stated after the death of his colleagues that: “We shall not let the silence settle. Terror should not prevent the joy of living, freedom, expression and democracy” (“Un acte de guerre contre Charlie Hebdo”).

On one hand, we have the Muslims that are offended by the disrespect of the journal proposing an image of their God and on the other hand, we have the satiric journal that believe, in a way, that religion should not be hidden, neither its characters. They are claiming for liberty of press and democracy. Being emotional by these cartoons is completely normal, a lot of Muslims are very close to their religion. But such violence was not necessary.

There is no fine line between what is correct or not. The main source of conflict in this case is about what is right to post and what crosses the line. With regards to these two opposing points of views, the answer is not really clear, because on both sides there is an infraction: disrespect or violence.


“Charlie Hebdo attack: Three days of terror.” BBC News. Np. January 14, 2015. Web. February 7,2016.

Graham-Harrison, Emma. “Drawing the prophet: Islam’s hidden history of Muhammad images.” The Guardian. Np. January 10, 2015. Web. February 7, 2016.

“Un acte de guerre contre Charlie Hebdo.” Radio Canada. Np. January 15, 2015. Web. February 7,2016.