French court acquits editor of “public abuse” of Muslims

posted at 11:20 am on March 22, 2007 by Allahpundit

I like the verdict but love the reasoning:

A French court on Thursday ruled in favor of a satirical weekly that had printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, rejecting accusations by Islamic groups who said the publication incited hatred against Muslims.

The court said the cartoons published by the weekly Charlie Hebdo were covered by freedom of expression laws and did not constitute an attack on Islam in general but fundamentalists.

The paper’s editor made the same point, calling it a victory for “secular French Muslims.” It’s a crappy law, of course, that will let an action lie for “public abuse” of any group, secular or not, but that’s the legislature’s problem, not the court’s. The judge did the best he could here for free speech with what he was given. The spectators applauded; they should have.

Image scans from the paper are here. According to AFP, the text in the sound bubble on the front page reads “It is hard to be loved by fools.”

Fun fact: one of the two plaintiffs (complainants?) is the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, an umbrella organization of French Muslim groups which allegedly has multiple links to the world’s foremost Islamist political movement, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and draws inspiration from Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, about whom I’ve written several times. This short PDF from the Simon Wiesenthal Center of France is enlightening, but most damning perhaps is the fact that the AP itself describes UOIF as “fundamentalist.” Exit question: Just how hardcore do you have to be to be hardcore even by the AP’s standards?

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La Fallaci smiles.

Kid from Brooklyn on March 22, 2007 at 11:21 AM

So, the jist of the ruling is that – not enough people were offended to make it illegal?

lorien1973 on March 22, 2007 at 11:24 AM

Heads will roll.

Valiant on March 22, 2007 at 11:47 AM

I wonder if there is a difference between Muslim fundamentalists and Muslim jihadists, or if these terms are the same in the minds of the media, judges, etc.

archon2001 on March 22, 2007 at 11:48 AM


aengus on March 22, 2007 at 11:59 AM

The fact that you can SUE for something like this in France … and then the French lecture US on freedom … is some breath-taking irony, ain’t it?

God bless the First Amendment.

It is scary how easily some groups – and some whole countries – are willing to give up real freedom (and then tell the rest of us how to be free) …

Professor Blather on March 22, 2007 at 12:15 PM

Rioting in the streets in 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 …

Gregor on March 22, 2007 at 12:19 PM

History proves that Napoleon killed off the last real frenchman in his wars. IMHO.

tormod on March 22, 2007 at 12:27 PM

God bless the First Amendment.

The first amendment is dead. Our courts have ruled the same thing. If enough people are offended, the speech (or logo) is banned.

lorien1973 on March 22, 2007 at 12:35 PM

This will only stoke the French Intafada, rioting by Muslims living in Parisian suburbs that has been going on since 2003. While we like to make fun of our French neighbors, this ruling takes real courage from the French jurists, who may now face a fatwah.
For all liberty loving people, it’s one small victory at a time.

paulsur on March 22, 2007 at 12:35 PM

Heads will roll.

Valiant on March 22, 2007 at 11:47 AM

Takes on a whole new meaning when you’re dealing with Muslim extremists, huh?

Chad on March 22, 2007 at 12:39 PM

Yes!!! Finally some common sense from the French. Next, they need to get rid of that law entirely.

darwin on March 22, 2007 at 12:49 PM

It’s good to see the French not surrendering (or submitting) to Islamic fundamentalism.

SpiritOfCartman on March 22, 2007 at 1:14 PM

Exit question: Just how hardcore do you have to be to be hardcore even by the AP’s standards?

Depends on the religion at hand, doesn’t it? The MSM in general is pretty free with linking the words “fundamentalist” (=hardcore) and “Christian.” I don’t know about the AP in particular. We could chalk it up to ignorance of the finer points of varying theistic viewpoints if they weren’t so delicate in their application of the term with the Mohammedians.

TexasDan on March 22, 2007 at 1:59 PM

Some one needs to explain the importance of this victory for free speech to Hugh Hewitt. Many of us missed a comment he slipped in during the Rago-ragging about the cartoons. He even debated the wisdom of publishing the cartoons with Cliff May (!

netherman79 on March 22, 2007 at 2:03 PM