Irish media warned over Hebdo cartoons
The warning of possible legal action against members of the media who retweet or republish any of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in the wake of this week’s terror attack on the satirical journal was sounded by Dr Ali Selim, of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, pictured above with the CH cover saying ‘Love is better than hate’.
In a 4FM radio interview, Selim was asked by interviewer Niall Boylan whether his life would be in danger if he retweeted a cartoon.
Dr Selim – who condemned the shootings – replied:
Not your life would be in danger but definitely we will check the Irish law and if there is any legal channel against you, we will take it.
According to this report, he added that he would advise Irish journalists not to reprint the cartoon “beecause it doesn’t help for peaceful coexistence” and would be “an act of mockery”.
You can say love is stronger than hate but you can’t portray the Prophet Mohammed. If the law gives you the right to do it, do it, if the law does not give you the right to do it, then don’t do it.
Asked if he would seek legal advice if any journalist in Ireland tweets or reprints the cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, Dr Selim said “Yes”.
Definitely if there is a legal action, I will take it. If you want to blame, blame the law.
He went on to say that he was “a great advocate of freedom of expression” – but of the sort that does not give room for confrontation, that does not turn one person against another.
He said that if anyone is offended, they have the right to express their disapproval within the boundaries of the law within the State that they live in.
Selim’s comments coincided with a submission Atheist Ireland made to the Irish Constitutional Convention, seeking the removal of the offence of blasphemy from the Irish Constitution. In its summary, AI said:
1. We campaign internationally against the use of blasphemy laws to infringe the human rights of religious minorities and atheists … We have opposed the Irish blasphemy law since it was first announced, including by lobbying Irish politicians and international regulatory bodies.
2. We argue that blasphemy laws generally are harmful for three reasons:
(a) They endanger freedom of speech and deny equality.
(b) They are used to infringe on human rights around the world.
(c) They have been condemned by reputable international bodies.
3. We argue that the Irish blasphemy law in particular is harmful for three reasons:
(a) It reinforces the religious ethos of the 1937 Constitution.
(b) It brings our parliament and our laws into disrepute.
(c) Islamic states use it at the UN to promote universal blasphemy laws.
Section 296 of the Criminal Code makes “blasphemous libel” punishable by up to two years in jail in Canada.
No one been prosecuted under the law since 1935, although as late as 1980 an unsuccessful attempt was made to use the law against the Canadian distributor of Monty Python’s Life of Brian (hilarious closing scene above).
The heads of Humanist Canada and the Centre for Inquiry renewed their demand for the law to be scrapped after the Charlie Hebdo atrocity. Last month they met with Ambassador Andrew Bennett, head of the federal government’s Office of Religious Freedom, to note the law’s inconsistency with Canada’s policy of supporting religious freedom abroad.
Update: DaveBrown, cartoonist for the Independent explains why he created the image above, saying:
I hesitate to call satire a weapon, but it is definitely a thing these people detest. They don’t have a rational argument, and responding to something as immediate as visual satire is beyond them. It has a power which they can’t match, so their only answer is to close it down by whatever means.
And that’s always been the case with fascists and extremists across the ages. Being mocked is too much for them to take. So we need to find a way carry on doing it and carry on laughing at them.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake (Selim report)