French Muslims Sue Magazine Over Cartoons

February 7, 2007

Source: The New York Times

Wire Service: Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) - A French court case shining light on the gray area where free speech and religious sensitivities overlap opens on Wednesday when Muslim groups sue a satirical magazine that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

The Grand Mosque of Paris and the Union of French Islamic Organizations accuse Charlie Hebdo of inciting racial hatred by reprinting the Danish caricatures that sparked violence in the Muslim world last year.

Politicians, intellectuals, secular Muslims and left-wing pressure groups have lined up behind Charlie Hebdo, arguing that Muslim groups have no right to call for limits on free speech.

"I just cannot imagine the consequences not only for France but for Denmark and Europe if they lose the case,'' Fleming Rose, the Danish editor who first published the cartoons, told a news conference with Charlie Hebdo publisher Philippe Val.

"It would turn back the clock decades, ages.''

However, an opinion poll on Tuesday showed 79 percent thought it unacceptable to ridicule a religion publicly and 78 percent ruled out parodies of Jesus Christ, Mohammad or Buddha.