EFJ Challenges Threats to Press Freedom in the French Cartoons Case

Today the International Federation of Journalists and its European group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), condemned the use of the law against French weekly Charlie Hebdo and its Editor-in-Chief Philippe Val, who are being sued by Muslim organisations for publishing last year three cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. The EFJ warned that it would make community relations worse and not better.

“This trial opening today in Paris against Charlie Hebdo is a violation of press freedom in France,” said EFJ Chair Arne König. “We call on the Tribunal trying the charge to drop the charges against Philippe Val and his magazine. The use of the law in this way not only threatens press freedom, it creates further confrontation in a dispute that calls for dialogue not legal wrangling”.

The EFJ also says that the case is inappropriate and selective given that other media published the cartoons but have not been taken to court.”

The EFJ recalls that ethical guidelines exist within the profession and that it is up to journalists themselves to apply self-regulation and to open the dialogue with various communities. The EFJ does not deny cases where the civil responsibility of journalists is considered according to the law, but it thinks that there should be no judicial or political interference in newsrooms, whether in Europe or elsewhere.

In the court case, the Muslim organizations have asked the Tribunal to assess a €30.000 fine and to publish the decision.

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The EFJ represents over 260.000 journalists in more than 40 countries.