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Discussing Charlie Hebdo

CGP experts about terrorism, satire and cultural sensitivity

News from Jan 13, 2015

The killing of a dozen people in last week´s terrorist attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket has prompted countless tributes, comments and discussions around the world. This week on Global Matters, the Center for Global Politics at Freie Universität Berlin asks its experts on how to make sure that liberal principles will be preserved during the struggle to defend itself and how to explain the fact that, since 9/11, political terrorists are quite often muslims – or use Islam-related, Jihadist narratives.

“The biggest attack on liberal societies in the recent times has come not from extremist Muslim chauvinists but from the states that have made use of the so-called 'War on Terror' to put citizens under surveillance, suspend rights of detainees, and take away liberties in the name of protecting it”, Dibyesh Anand, a long-time lecturer for International Relations Online and currently Head of the Department of Politics and IR at the University of Westminster, writes. Framing the discussion in terms of a liberal society fighting for freedom of speech and anti-liberal Islamists promoting violence would adopt a very problematic and narrow notion of rights to free speech, he continues.

Whereas Dimitrios Triantaphyllou believes that the universalization of satire like all other forms of expression and the degree of its acceptability is at the heart of the current debate on Charlie Hebdo, Shen Dingli, on the other hand, argues that the attack reminds one of the importance of balancing sense and sensibility. According to the Professor and Associate Dean at Fudan University’s Institute of International Studies, people should deal with cartoons through legal means, in case the yfind them offensive. That´s what he calls the senseful approach. “In terms of sensibility, one may be sensible in judging the outcome of certain actions, including printing certain cartoons. If some cartoons would be provocative, it might be desirable to exercise some self-censorship.” Shen stresses that this should not be interpreted as a kowtow to pressure, but to show sensibility toward the difference of civilizations, the CGP expert writes.

Add your voice to the discussion here.

Valentina Calà/Flickr/Creative Commons

Source: Valentina Calà/Flickr/Creative Commons

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