It’s strange from an American perspective, but in France you can be sued, fined, and even imprisoned for offending people. In the thick of the Mohammed Cartoon controversy whipped up by some Danish imams on a tour of the Middle East, the French, satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo took a stand for free speech. They republished the cartoons and added another caricature of their own.
Some French Islamist groups sued, and the case was just decided today in favor of free speech. Paper cleared in Muhammad drawings case – Yahoo! News:
PARIS – A French court cleared a satirical weekly newspaper Thursday in a case brought by Muslims who were angered by its publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
The newspaper Charlie-Hebdo and its director, Philippe Val, were accused of “publicly abusing a group of people because of their religion.” Val had risked a six-month prison sentence and a fine of up to $29,250.
The court ruled that Charlie-Hebdo showed no intention of insulting the Muslim community with the caricatures, several of which appeared first in a Danish paper and sparked angry protests across the Muslim world and in Europe.
It was good to see that all three of the leading presidential candidates issued statements of support for Charlie Hebdo before the trial. Notably, Nicholas Sarkozy, who has himself been ruthlessly satirized by the paper, led the way in supporting them in this case.
All 12 of the original caricatures can be viewed here. They are, for the most part, pretty tame fare. For some of them it is a bit hard to understand the joke, but a Danish commenter on our Flikr album has helped explain those.