“Freedom of Press” Under Attack

The terror attack and murder of 12 people in Paris, France can happen in the U.S. too, especially since we’re already embroiled in this mess.

In February 2006, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a series of 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The same pictures had been featured in the Nordic daily Jyllands-Posten on September 16, 2005.

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The Danish publication triggered anti-Danish protests across the Muslim world in which an estimated 130 people were killed. It also caused the French government to temporarily closed 20 embassies as a precaution.

Numerous violent plots related to the cartoons have been discovered in the years since the main protests in early 2006. These have primarily targeted editor Flemming Rose, cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, the property or employees of Jyllands-Posten and other newspapers that printed the cartoons,and representatives of the Danish state.

On New Year Day 2010, police stop a would-be assassin in Westergaard’s home. In February 2011, the attacker was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Also in 2010, three men living in Norway were arrested for planning an attack against Jyllands-Posten; two were convicted. In the U.S., David Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana were convicted of planning terror attacks against Jyllands-Posten and sentenced in 2013.

As for Charlie Hebdo, the publication became a target of threats, forcing employees to be placed under police protection. But any attempt at intimidating the magazine failed.

Then in 2011, after the magazine named the Prophet Muhammad as its “editor-in-chief,” their offices were firebombed, and its website was hacked. Then in 2013 the magazine publishing what it called a “halal” comic book on the life of the Prophet Mohammad.

Now the Charlie Hebdo story has taken a deadly turn.

Meanwhile Al Jazeera America’s Arthur Goldhammer writes: “The satire that Charlie Hebdo exemplified was more blasphemous than political, and its roots lie deep in European history, dating from a time when in order to challenge authority, one had to confront divinity itself. In that one respect, the fanatics are not wrong: Charlie Hebdo was out to undermine the sacred as such.”

I don’t agree with Goldhammer, but I would never threaten him or his right to say, write or publish what he believes.

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