Today, French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo published its first issue since attacks on its offices took 12 lives last week, running yet another cover depicting the Muslim prophet, Muhammad. In my opinion, it is the only cover they could have run.
Under a headline of “all is forgiven,” the cover features a drawing of Muhammad crying, holding up a sign which reads, “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), a slogan which has united people around the world in solidarity both with the publication and freedom of speech.
The choice of drawing is significant, and the artist who penned it, Renald Luzier, is brave. The illustration, like the week of demonstrations preceding it, represents a non-violent act of defiance against the oppression of freedom. It deflates the power of those who seek to intimidate and shows the world that they will not succumb to the desires of terrorists when making editorial decisions.
That’s what freedom of speech is all about. It’s also why every threat to it, no matter how big or how small, is worth fighting, passionately and relentlessly.
Illustrators, photojournalists, reporters, artists, authors, poets, playwrights, musicians, photographers, philosophers – these are the people who, through their work, surface unheard perspectives, illuminate hypocrisies and speak truth to power. No one has to agree with what they say and no one has to even listen – that’s an individual choice. But far be it from anyone to attempt to silence these people, whether by Kalashnikov, as we saw in last week’s attacks, or by way of extortion, intimidation or imprisonment. This happens every day, all over the world, and we must stand up against all of it.
In 2014, globally, 61 journalists were killed, 221 journalists were jailed and many others were exiled or went missing, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (I serve on their board of directors). This is frightening and unacceptable. These atrocities attack the basic human right of self-expression, and should be completely intolerable to anyone who believes in freedom.
Renald Luzier and Charlie Hebdo have taken a stand. Getty Images stands with them.Read our interview with Paris Match’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief about what the attack on Charlie Hebdo means for freedom of the press.