REFILE-Europe's media differ over publishing Charlie Hebdo cartoons

From Reuters - January 8, 2015

(Clarifies in paragraph 18 that some UK newspapers carried images of Charlie Hebdo front pages)

By Ole Mikkelsen and Michael Holden

COPENHAGEN/LONDON Jan 8 Many European newspapers republished cartoons from the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo to protest against killings byIslamist militants seen as an attack on freedom of expression and the continent's tradition of visual satire.

But most front pages expressed solidarity with the 12 people, journalists and police, killed in Wednesday's attack by publishing their own cartoons and editorials that veered away from Charlie Hebdo's more provocative sketches mocking Islam.

The editorial stances highlighted differences over how publishers respond to the shootings and raised questions over whether many were already self-censoring for fear of causing offence or, worse still, triggering an Islamist backlash.

In Denmark - where Jyllands Posten published several cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammad in 2005 igniting protests across the Muslim world that killed least 50 - four newspapers republished cartoons from the French newspaper.

But Jyllands Posten, whose staff have been under police protection since their cartoon controversy, decided not to publish the Charie Hebdo cartoons.

In Sweden, where artist Lars Vilks has lived under police protection since his portrayal of the Prophet Mohammad as a dog led to death threats, Expressen republished Charlie Hebdo's last tweet mocking Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"For many it will be an obvious conclusion to keep a low profile, cover up and avoid provoking strong emotions," said an editorial in Denmark's Berlingske that published several of Charlie Hebdo's cartoons. "But we must not duck, as we then are going to give in to an unacceptable threat to culture."

The front page of Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten showed a cartoon which consists of a black space with ink and a fountain pen in one corner and this hand-written message:

"As a caricaturist I have been of the opinion up to now that there was no topic that cannot be drawn. I have to admit that the tragic incident which took place in Paris yesterday taught me otherwise."

Satire, which often tests the limits of what a society will accept in the name of free speech, has roots in Western culture going back to 18th century French playwright Volataire and beyond that to ancient Greece. Freedom to criticise the Roman Catholic Church in France was seen as a major victory of the French Revolution.

But it was the booming growth of the press in the 19th century that made the political cartoon a weapon in the battle of public opinion, with magazines such as Punch in Britain and caricaturists such as Thomas Nast in the United States.

Norwegian poet Haavard Rem urged publication of Charlie Hebdo cartoons in maintaining part of an important European tradition.


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