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?