French paper that published Mohammed cartoons reimagines "responsible" journalism

In addition to the standard issue, this week’s “responsible” edition of Charlie Hebdo contains no pictures and very little text – the clear message being that to be “responsible” is extremely limiting and does not actually mean doing real journalism. Aside from an editorial from Stéphane Charbonnier, or Charb, the weekly’s publisher, the paper only contains headlines and blank spaces. The ironic headlines include “Tunisia – all is well,” “Morocco – all is well,” “Egypt – all is well” and “Libya – all is well,” following by “Mali – all is going very well.” Others include “Prudence is the mother of safety” and “Do you know how to plant cabbages?”

In the editorial, Charb picks up on the criticisms it has be hit with during the past week and explains that “In order to satisfy Laurent Fabius [France’s foreign minister], Brice Hortefeux [an opposition MP] and Tariq Ramadan [professor of Islamic studies at Oxford], Charlie Hebdo will put no more ‘oil on the fire,’ nor will it ‘blow on the embers,’ and it will never again be ‘irresponsible.’” Charlie will never again comment on breaking news, he writes, will never try to make people laugh with subjects that might shock, will never forget that they must take into account “the susceptibility of the Benghazi Salafists” and will subject its cartoons each week to a censorship committee overseen by the Union of Islamic Organisations in France, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France and representatives of the pope. …

Meanwhile, the “irresponsible” edition of Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were firebombed last year following its “Charia Hebdo” issue, features a cartoon on its cover depicting a caveman holding some oil and some fire, titled “The invention of humour.” The editorial in this issue tackles the criticism that the paper has received from a different angle. It calls for “The end of the fear of Islam,” saying that the media and public figures promote excessive fear of Muslim extremists, and, for example, “Salafist” is used particularly to inspire fear.