Sample Report On Freedom Of Speech In Light Of Charlie Hebdo’s Attack

Type of paper: Report

Topic: Religion, Democracy, Speech, Rhetoric, Freedom, Internet, Muslim, Islam

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/02/05

Wednesday January 2015, two masked gunmen attacked Charlie Hebdo in his office in Paris, France (BBC, 2014). The attackers left twelve people dead and other injured (Kim Willsher, 2015), and caused a worldwide condemnations and one of the most peaceful head of states match in support of the government of France. The attacker claims that Hebdo’s work attacks Muslim by wrongly representing Muhammad that hurts the Muslims.
Although this could be an isolated attack, there have been other attacks in the larger European region. For example, the Copenhagen killing that seems to resemble the Charlie Hebdo’s attack in the same month (Simon Tisdall, 2015). Tisdall asserts that there is a need for Europe to protect the freedom of speech and religion. The question arising is whether there was any just reason(s) for the two gunmen to attack Charlie Hebdo on the grounds of religion.
France is secular state meaning that the state and its operations ought to be separate from any religion. It also means that the state exercise neutrality as far as it concerns religions (Maurice Barbier, n.d). Therefore, the essence of free speech in France ought to not have religious biases. Any person has the freedom to give their opinion on any matter and enjoy state protection from coercions from any group provided the ideas do not amount to criminal activities.
Religious criticisms are as ancient as mankind. In the ancient times, early philosophers such as Socrates questioned the gods the Athenians worshiped. Those who felt threatened by his ideas accused of being a sophist. They had to seek legal interpretation from their judges. Although that was the case, the Athenian laws did not specify what ought to be the freedom of speech explicitly. The debate on wearing hijab in the public school has created a lot of debate with the Muslim community citing oppression and limiting their freedom to exercise their religion in France (Melanie Adrian, 2006, p 102). Although this may be the case, the freedoms of exercising one’s freedom of regions ought not to go beyond certain levels.
It is evident that the Hijab may cause religious segregations they make the Muslim students stand out in the schools. Such may change the focus from the similarities to the focusing on the differences. Whoever wants equal treatment in the face of the laws ought to treat other in the same way. One must be clean first to point figures at others and accuse them of not been fair.
The principle of equal treatment allows for limitation of one’s religious activities especially where such creates disparities. It is worth noting that religious aspects are not public but private affairs necessitating a limitation to its practice to one’s private life. However, that does not limit the discussion on religion in the public or criticisms.
Would curtailing of freedom of speech be good for the Muslims and the rest? A society that has limited speech is vulnerable to among others things oppression from several agents of government or private firms. If one cannot voice their concern to the public, one cannot get a fair treatment. Therefore, what the attackers wants the public to believe is not only adverse to them, but also the larger community.
Naomi Wolf (2015), states that the quickest way to spread extremist tendencies is by the use of the censor’s boot. She questions the moral authority that bans particular speech that one may consider extremist. The necessity of such limitations help in practicing all the people from harm since unregulated freedoms of speech is dangerous. There must be a standard measure of what the society allows, such as allowing criticisms.
In addition, Wolf’s assertion may not hold since in a completely free society is not possible. Laws limit every aspect in the society. However, such limitations do not need to be very strict to water down the gains of free speech. It is of greater benefit to allow criticisms of whatever nature as they trigger positive changes.
The egalitarianism philosophy requires that all people get equal treatment economically, socially, and morally, among others. The moral egalitarianism advocates equal treatment in the applications of justice (The Basics of Philosophy, n.d.). Why then can’t the Muslims if they feel aggrieved by any party seek legal redress from the established institutions? The answer may point out the deviation from the norm whereby terrorist use religion to advance other agendas that are entirely different. The need to separate one’s desire for freedoms and selfish gains for coercing one to believe or hold one’s moral standing as superior is necessary.
Was Charlie Hebdo wrong in producing the cartoons? From whatever perspective one may view Hebdo’s actions, there is no just reason to kill anyone who draws cartoons (Jeff Sparrow, 2015). As noted earlier, killing a person for alleged violation of one’s religious beliefs does not justify the acts of the person as right. Taking the laws upon one’s hands is a criminal activity.
Jacob Canfield (2015) asserted that the primary aim of the cartoons is to provoke discussions on various issues in the society. Therefore, the religious cartoons are not made to ridicule the person Muhammad. Those opposed to Hebdo’s work are using their subjective interpretation without questioning the motivations behind his work. Humor or satire may not indicate what is just obvious. The cartoons depict an inner meaning that is may not be outside the French politics. The symbolism used needs an in-depth analysis for one to understand and appreciate the work (Max Fisher, 2015). Moreover, the freedom of speech does not mean free from criticism even from a religious perspective.


Barbier M. n.d. Towards a Definition of French Secularism. [online] Available at [Accessed on April 8, 2015]
Adrian M. 2006. Laïcité Unveiled: Case Study in Human Rights, Religion, and Culture in France. Human Rights Review-2006. PDF. Available at _Human_Rights_Religion_and_Culture_in_France. [Accesses on April 8 2015]
Fisher M. 2015. What everyone gets wrong about Charlie Hebdo and racism. Vox Jan 12, 2015, [online] Available at racist/in/7271890 [Accessed on April 8, 2015]
The Basics of Philosophy. Egalitarianism. Retrieved on April 8, 2015 from
Willsher K. 2015 Gunmen attack Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo's offices killing at least twelve. The Guardian Jan 7, 2015, [online]. Available at attacked-by-gunmen [Accessed on April 8, 2015]
Canfield J. 2015. In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism. The hoodedutilitarian Jan. 7. 2015, [online] available at does-not-mean-freedom-from-criticism/ [Accessed April 8, 2015]
Sparrow J. 2015. We can defend Charlie Hebdo without endorsing it. The Drum 9 January 2015, [online]. Available at 09/sparrow- we-should-support-charlie-hebdo-not-endorse-it/6007836 [Accessed on April 8, 2015]
BBC. 2015, January 14. Charlie Hebdo attack: Three days of terror. BBC Jan. 14 2015, [online] Available at [Accessed on April 8, 2015]
Tisdall S. 2015. Copenhagen killings: bewildered Europe struggles to defend freedom of speech and religion. The Guardian, January 15, 2015, [online] available at europe-freedom-speech-religion [Accessed on April 8, 2015].
Wolf N. 2015. The fastest way to spread extremism is with the censor’s boot. The Guardian April 7, 2015, [online] available at charlie-hebdo [Accessed on April 8, 2015].

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