World Association of News Publishers

World’s Press Defends Right to Offend, Shock and Disturb in Wake of Attacks Against Charlie Hebdo

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World’s Press Defends Right to Offend, Shock and Disturb in Wake of Attacks Against Charlie Hebdo

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The World Association of Newspapers and Newspapers (WAN-IFRA) together with the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, condemns the recent firebomb attack against the premises of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo following publication of an issue portraying the Prophet Muhammad.

“As the global organisation representing the world’s press, we stand in solidarity with the staff of Charlie Hebdo at this difficult moment,” WAN-IFRA said in a statement Monday. “Violence and physical attacks of any nature must not be allowed to detract from the essential role that newspapers play in promoting and enriching democracy in a free society,” the statement continued.

Charlie Hebdo dedicated its Wednesday 2 November front cover to a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in an issue provocatively “guest-edited” by the founder of the Islamic religion. The issue was compiled in response to the recent elections in Tunisia in which the Islamist Ennhda Party gained a majority share of the vote.

The editorial offices of the publication were destroyed during the early hours of Wednesday morning in a fire believed to have originated from a Molotov cocktail attack. The newspaper had received threats via Twitter and Facebook prior to the release of the controversial issue, and while all leads are being explored French Police are yet to rule out the involvement of fundamentalist Islamist groups.

The publication is no stranger to this particular controversy after having successfully defended itself in a lawsuit brought by Muslim organisations in France after it re-published the 2006 Danish cartoons that sparked controversy across the Muslim world.

“Publishing shocking or offending material should not be a goal in itself, and it must be done at the right place, at the right time, for the right reason,” continued the statement by WAN-IFRA, “but it must be possible and it must be legal – regardless of who or what it offends – for any society to lay claim to being a truly functioning democracy.”

WAN-IFRA condemns this clear attack on freedom of speech and defends the right of media organisations to publish content that will provoke or stimulate debate. The organisation calls on the French authorities to act swiftly to bring the perpetrators to justice and work with all members of the community to protect freedom of expression in whatever form.




Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, WAN-IFRA, 96 bis rue Beaubourg, 75003 Paris France. Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 00. Fax: +33 1 47 42 49 48. Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36. E-mail: 


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2011-11-07 20:00

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...