charlieEurope is still in shock following one of the worst acts of terrorism in France in 50 years. A series of attacks in and around Paris, beginning with a shooting at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, left 20 people dead. But have the attacks brought us together, or have they exposed deep-seated divisions in attitudes towards everything from freedom of speech and religious belief, to the marginalization of minorities and immigration?

The Pope has condemned the attacks, but added that freedom of speech has its limits and that religions should not be mocked. To underline his point, he said that if his assistant had cursed his mother then he should not be surprised to receive a punch.

Meanwhile, charges of hypocrisy have been levelled at French authorities for arresting a comedian who mocked the “Je Suis Charlie” slogan on Facebook, and allegedly showed sympathy for Amedy Coulibaly, the perpetrator of the Paris supermarket killings.

The memory of the attacks is still fresh and feelings are raw, but it is important to debate and discuss the issues raised. We will be moderating this thread closely, and we ask that you stick to our ground rules if you want to participate: please treat all fellow participants with mutual respect, and we will not tolerate racism or other forms of hate-speech.

Will the Paris attacks change Europe’s attitude to freedom of speech? Will the attacks divide Europeans or unite them over the question of limits to freedom of speech? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Jean Baptiste Roux

214 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Karel Martel

    No, not really, with the obvious sensible exceptions against calls for violence and slander and defamation against individuel persons.

    • avatar


    • avatar

      Technically, hate speech doesn’t have to be limited because we are allowed to have opinions. We just need to have enough common sense to keep some opinions to ourselves.

    • avatar
      Colin Morris

      Who the hell do we trust to decide what is hate speech and what is just an opinion?

  2. avatar
    James McManama

    Karel – Then surely that means you believe there ARE limits to freedom of speech? I think you’re right about that, and then the question becomes where do those limits lie.

  3. avatar
    Costi Ciudin

    what kind of limits? legal limits, probably not. but tehre is another set of laws that everyone should obey, even journalists: the laws of common sense and decency

    • avatar

      Common sense and decency change in time and from one culture to the other

  4. avatar
    Karel Van Isacker

    No, except when it calls for killing or when what is said is proven to have been said to unrightfully harm a person. So all the pro-islamo racaille tweets etc. that praise the Paris killings by those islamic terrorists are to be forbidden. But those that do not like the cartoons can freely say so, as long as they do not praise the jihad, fatwas, etc. They can do the extremist slogans and tweets in their own country of origin if they are allowed to, but not in Europe where there is no place for islamic terrorists and supporting extremists.

  5. avatar
    Olivia Sena

    Of course! Denigration, libel, slander, calumny! And I would like to add also another one: malicious misinformation (this doesnt exist in law of course).

  6. avatar
    Kovács János

    Certainly. Freedom of expression is not absolute. I’m talking about the cases of hate speech, disturbing public peace and public morality, the protection of individual honor, and some special issues regarding certain political contents. Sometimes it’s a difficult task to point out a borderline…

    • avatar

      The problem with that approach is that anyone can claim anything is hate speech. It can be used to silence political opponents or honest criticism about religion.

      Or someone could interpret the Islam to mean Mohammed must be on every note that is used for payment. Making a payment with any other note would be hate speech and disrespectful.

      The way we identify claims that should be respected is by the evidence provided for them. Religion not provided any good evidence ever to be believed. People mostly believe because they are indoctrinated or oppressed.

  7. avatar
    Alex Tselentis

    Its not about “limits” its about HYPOCRISY and DOUBLE STANDARDS .. Hebdo fired a journalist in 2009 for opening his mouth about zionism, it must go both ways.

  8. avatar
    Rémi Martin

    Of course, just look on the net how many comments are censured! If freedom of speech would be, this wouldn’t exist!

  9. avatar
    Florim Brahimi

    Yes freedom of speach must go far till you dont ofend others ..or till you dont attack others freedom…bcz if you go over limit rights of others are toucht…..

    • avatar

      No but it does mean you won’t end up in prison for it. There are other ways of dealing with people who say thing you don’t like. Arguing, shunning, ignoring, insulting their feelings. Violence is not one of them.

  10. avatar
    Paul X

    Why does the Pope claim religion should not be mocked? There are plenty of Athiests on this planet to whom religion means nothing and they are perfectly entitled to hold this opinion. Why should they be forced to accept that what other people choose to believe is somehow beyond criticism?

    Some people believe the world is flat, plenty of people make jokes about them, are they entitled to pick up a gun and start shooting those who laugh at them?

    Who decides what beliefs are out of bounds and which ones are fair game for

    Anyway, throughout time religion has caused more grief on this planet than anything else…and looks like it will continue to do so till the end of time….so if there was ever a good advert for Atheism……….

    • avatar

      It’s okay that there are plenty of Athiests on this planet who don’t believe in religion and in God. But not believing in something means that you are obliged to poke fun at it? To my mind, even if you don’t believe in it, you have to respect it, such as the religious have to respect the athiests.

  11. avatar

    The pope has his own dogma’s to defend. Christianity is just as bad as Islam, just we spend the last 400 years pushing it back, so it causes much less problems now.

    Instead of explaining why it’s good to be moral, religion tries to replace natural morality with dogmatic morals. The problem is that they don’t change and people don’t understand why they are good.

    In practice religion and science are contradictory because science is about gaining understanding, religion is about enforcing dogma’s and reducing understanding.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      Your thinking needs to be critiqued!

      1…Your temporal dislocation argument asserting that Christianity and Islam are as bad as each is WRONG! For example, Christianity was founded by someone who did not have sex with a child, did not kill, did not insult blacks, did not insult women, did not rob, did not engage in slavery. Islam on the other hand…

      2…What is ‘natural morality’? LOL!

      3…Many of the world’s greatest scientific advances were propounded by religion and too by pro-religious individuals.

      For someone who waxes lyrical about Science, your posts seem to lack objective rigour. Disappointing!

    • avatar

      I think you look dogmatic too in your vision of religion and science. The pope does not believe the world is flat, and morality can not be natural and universal, it is cultural and changeable by definition. Many scientists are believers and they don’t see this contradiction, which was widespread centuries ago in Europe.

    • avatar

      Dear Sir,

      I’d like to place a few ideas in front of you. Firstly, most laws today are based on moral principles seen in religion and religion is the root of law. The first laws were the laws of religion and they helped keep peace.

      Also, many of the technological advancement in history have come from religious people, especially muslims who were driven by the hadith (saying of the Holy Prophet pbuh) “The aquisition of knowledge is compulsory on every Muslim man and woman”.

  12. avatar
    Lefteris Trl

    you shouldn’t offend religions..but it’s a fact so many muslims shouldn’t be in europe..

    • avatar

      Considering the claims they make and the dogma’s they hold with the effect they have on everyones lives: yes you should mock them and question their claims and dogma’s.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      What is so special about religions? Some people don’t give a toss about religion but that doesn’t give the “believers” the right to go and shoot them

    • avatar

      I FIND ALL RELIGIONS AND THEIR DOCTRINES OFFENSIVE they promote division,uncritical thinking and the surrender of reason they endanger the very survival of humanity

  13. avatar
    Toni Muñiz

    As has been said already. Freedom of speech has a keyword, that being FREEDOM. As I see it, as long as it is not promoting clear violence or attacking an individual it must not be limited. It is the end of a peacefull society if freedom of speech is limited because then anyone politician can limit that which they do not like. It is a very dangerous proposition in my opinion. And for an example, lets use the PEGIDA protests in Germany, and now all iver EU. Merkel likes to call these protesters Nazis( which is even historically incorrect). These people are showing, as european and german citizens a discontent and worry of a problem they see. They have a right to voice their concerns, as any citizen in their many concerns. If you stop this by limiting freedom of speech, who can garantee tomorrow they will not silence your freedom? You want to voice your opinion in gay rights? You cant, the politician in power does not like gays, you cant voice your opinion. As so forth with anything else. I am a US citizen, where our constitution protects freedom of speech, it is sacred. And if someone is saying something you dont like you have 2 choices, dialogue or tolerance. EU likes to preach tolerance alot, so learn to tolerate what you dont like. So as far as it is not promoting violence or attacks individuals, keep freedom of speech free.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @Toni Muniz:

      Well, if you truly believe that you have freedom of speech in the USA then you are wearing self imposed blinkers. Try saying what so many Americans want to about the people they have in the White House and see how long you remain a free man.

      Not only that, it is your country that has spread the heinous crime of political correctness throughout the Western world, which it began in earnest in 1959. And your analogy of being able to speak out about what a person feels about homosexuality is tripe. Because right now, today, Americans cannot speak out about the reality of what their people feel and know about it is silenced and threatened with murder if they do. They are very quickly silenced. Just as now, anyone in Europe, including the Pope is afraid of doing.

      The only people who can and do speak out on that issue are the Mosques. Or, had that missed your senses?

    • avatar
      Kristen C.

      @Catherine Benning

      How do you figure that? Have you ever been on Facebook? People speak out against politicians ALL the time. I mean ALL the time….so much, it gets old. As an American, I have never felt that my right to speak freely was limited as long as I am not threatening people. Americans do NOT fear for their lives if they state their opinions…quite the opposite. Sometimes, our tolerance for freedom of speech is unbelievable. Just google “westboro baptist church”.

  14. avatar

    There are no limits to free speech. Because, who will determine what’s permissible and what isn’t? “Free speech” in a muslim country would not be free speech. Nor would “free speech” in a christian country like the US. It’s as Stephen Fry said, “feeling offended is nothing more than a whine. … it has no meaning, it has no purpose … ‘I am offended by that’. Well, so fucking what?”

    The problem is with the offendee, not with the offender. Decent, tolerant people don’t care about others offending them. Someone tries to offend me. So what?

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      Your 4th sentence does NOT make sense, would you please kindly elaborate?

      Thanks in advance.

  15. avatar
    Herta Manenti

    there should be no limit to freedom of speech , sanctions for offensive speech pr manipulation of truth for propaganda . freedom of speech should concern also the freedom of arguing about the way media is treating all the situation of terror including the Charlie Hebdo attack

  16. avatar
    Eu CuMine

    Once defined the notion of freedom of speech, there should not be any limitations of all. But in order to define this freedom, some limitations should be imposed, in order to keep people feelings’ safe. Limiting offence only for a few categories of people (impaired, nationals or a certain religious orientation and so on) is utterly wrong for those who are not part of any of those categories but still are right to demand respect because they did nothing to hurt other people. If by freedom of speech do you bully somebody, then that liberty should be taken from you.

  17. avatar

    Whoa ! How dare you ? Shush ! NEVER EVER Freedom Of Speech should be questioned or muffled (regardless the reason) in what is considered a civilized society. Millions died fighting for it and never got the chance to see it happened. Regarding Islam, I think the western part of Europe is way too permissive allowing radicals to do whatever they like, when they like it. Tolerance 2 Intolerance is just unacceptable.

    • avatar

      Dear sir,

      Your opinion is contradicting. You first state that freedom of speech can never be questioned, but then say that too much of it is been given to muslims in Western Europe. That means that you want only non-muslims to be given freedom of speech, and the opinions of muslims to be suppressed. That is clear racism

  18. avatar
    Fabio Adam Friend

    who are we? whats the meaning of iam charlie? first of all be responsable and respect the respect of others

  19. avatar
    Pier Dal Ri

    Yes, there are big limits, you may not say what you think about islam, gay people, communists and terrorists without beiing classified as reactionist, it is a “one way freedom”

  20. avatar
    catherine benning

    What a strange question. How could there be freedom of speech or expression and at the same time, restrictions on it. That is an oxymoron.

    However I have noticed those like the Pope today saying that Religion should not be open to satire and he would punch the face of someone who did it. As well as if they were rude about his mother. So, what we have is a sneak attack on our civil rights because of the influx of foreigners, who do not have a civilised culture, being allowed to enter Europe and feel they can bring their appalling subjugation with them. They have got away with it with women. FGM , covering them from head to toe, honour killing and arranged marriages as well as polygamy. Now they want to have the right to kill us for satire. And the ploy is, it’s their religion. Well, do you really believe it will stop at religion? Of course not. Next, it will be you cannot do cartoons of Muslims with beards or the veil or whatever odd criteria they think they can use to force us into their submissive and controlled and backward looking lifestyle.Then to follow on, politicians with no cartoons about their motives or actions, no cartoons about the monarchy and on and on. Tyranny only spreads more tyranny. Once it is accepted in any form it will spread through our culture like wildfire.

    The satire we have was hard fought for, to give it up for intruders is crazy and will lead to civil war. I feel the same way as the Dutch mayor. If they don’t like the western lifestyle, pass off.

    And I think that as a result of this killing in Paris, along with the beheading of Lee Rigby in the streets of London, the blowing up of the bus and tubes killing numerous people in my capital city and on and on, we should be seriously considering removing the passports and citizenship handed out willy nilly to those who cannot tolerate our freedoms. These people are a threat to the nationals of the country they have settled in and would be 100% happier in a country that is suited to their needs.

    The mosques that are adding to the threat by radicalising the young, should be shut down at once and all of them patrolled to be sure they are not plotting some other horrendous deed to persuade us to change our way of life. They do not deserve to be in a Western society.

    Je suis Charlie.

    • avatar

      Agree with this comment. However, before we can start calling anyone and intruder we need to consider that these people have been allowed in and they have been given citizenships, which is not their fault.

  21. avatar
    Ecs Ferreira

    Yes, repect the truth , first ; respect the religions asking you want without insulting…

    • avatar
      catherine benning


      First, it is the fault of politicians who, without the knowledge or consent of the electorate allowed mass immigration into Europe from outside of it.They did this in full knowledge that who they were allowing in, did not want the lifestyle we have. They did not do this blind. They knew and know the societies they have imported from and continue to allow them to enter. They are coming to the UK and Europe by the thousands weekly. No border control, no scrutiny. So these politicians have put our lives in danger. They are unfit for office.

      That said, however, it is still the fault of those who decided that, even though our society and culture did not suit their Islamic way of life, still came and settled in Europe knowing they disliked what we were, with the intention of changing what our nation was to suit them and their way of life. They intended, and began very quickly, to demand they lived by their own laws, whether we liked it or not. And, if we did not succumb to their demands to change our status quo they were going to and did, murder us. How many mosques have been attacked by men armed with Kalishnakovs and body bombs? How many of us have been ready to die to eliminate those who live by Islam and force submission of their people, especially women, to mutilate their bodies and suffocate beneath a shroud of darkness.

      How many have these Islamists killed in the UK? Do you know? On the bus, in the tube, walking on the street. And now we see more and more of it because they are getting away with it. For goodness sake, killed for pencilling a picture of a bearded man, are you serious? It’s simply barbarism and, no, there is no bloody excuse for it, that is if any person wants to live in a civilised Western society. It is what we are, what we have fought for for hundreds of year for. To now talk of accepting this heinous behaviour of the simple minded, indoctrinated individuals, because in their country they don’t do that, is an insult to those they killed.

      I will never accept their right to ‘invade’ our society and change our laws on anything. Not women and their rights and not cartoonists on their right to satire. It is fundamental to freedom. And Islam wants more than anything else, power to snuff out our freedom of speech and expression. It is alien to their understanding. And will and can only grow more fierce with time. Look how far they have come in so short a period.

      And if our government wants to allow them to continue with their lunacy, then like the fortunate Jews who can up and leave for Israel, people who feel as I have a right to that equality, to also have a land to escape this enforced life sentence. I did not ask my politicians to bring in cultures en masse to my country in order to change my society. They did this in secret. Therefore, they have to make the same opportunity for the ‘non Jew’ to have an alternative to the horror they imported and to leave to a land more suited to our Christian based tolerance and intellect. One they fund as prolifically as they do that same Jewish state with tax payers money.

      You are quite welcome to stay in it, but don’t expect those who would rather not, to stay in it with you.

  22. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    It is not a matter of freedom it is a matter of common sense. There is a Sufi saying that goes:

    Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:
    At the 1st gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?”
    At the second gate, ask, “Is it necessary?”
    At the third, ask yourself, ” – Is it kind?”

    • avatar

      That is good advice for interpersonal relationships but not suitable for political life. And this exactly is the problem with European Muslims that they do not distinguish between the state and religion, which is a private and personal matter to us.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      Good point!

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      Is a secular state justified to have & support different levels of (universal) ethics & morals- e.g. between its populace & its political leadership? Who provides such crucial leadership & from which source does HE receive his wisdom? EU President JCJuncker, ruler of 500mio offered a 62 worded prepared Hedbo statement- choosing to sit & be filmed secure in his office!

  23. avatar
    catherine benning

    Here is a disgusting example of what is already taking place in mad politically correct state schools in my country. The freedom of speech being denied to babies. How anyone can allow their children to be used and abused this way is beyond me. These teachers who do this, along with their masters, should be jailed for indoctrination of the innocent.

  24. avatar
    Annisa Tyas Purwanti

    The freedom of expression does include the freedom to offend. Without it, a democracy dies.

    But there is no virtue in abusing this freedom to purposely offend. Why? Why do it? What good comes of it? For those who do not understand the “big deal” of Charlie Hebdo cartoons, maybe it is because it does not concern something near and dear to you and your dignity. Consider, for example, if the Charlie Hebdo cartoon of the Holy Trinity having a threesome was replaced with the images of you, your daughter,and your Mother having a threesome. Or the image of Muhammad naked and bent over, replaced with your Dad. In the national media. And people look at it and have a hearty laugh. Sure, it’s freedom of expression. But can you honestly say, that you’re not allowed to be pissed at the indignity of it all, for the sake of freedom of expression?

    For the sake of underlining freedom of expression, what if, during the Unity Rally, somebody wore an ISIS T Shirt? Or a Je Suis Cherif placard? Or a Holocaust Denier T Shirt? Would you accept if wholeheartedly as merely being a form of freedom of expression? Or would you want to throw a punch?

    In a democracy, self limitations of freedom of expression are a mirror of the society in which it exists. So ask yourself this, whatn kind of society do you want to be a part of? One where mocking someone’s faith and hurting people’s feelings are just “good fun”? Or one where people still respect the Golden Rule?

  25. avatar
    Lesley McDade

    There are already limitations on freedom of expression – defamation, libel, slander, misrepresentation, mistake, hate crime are just a few in law. That is what our courts are for – no need for barbarism in a civilised country

  26. avatar
    Georgiou Julian

    Just like exceptions already exist in the freedom of expression, like that some exceptions should probably be considered when a considerable group of people is insulted.

  27. avatar
    Breogán Costa

    NO, I think there shouldn’t be, excepting if they are calling for terrorism or other kind of violence. If you say something wrong, just pay for it (obviously, not in this way)

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Americo De Americis
      Interesting ‘Latinisation’ of a Welsh surname.

  28. avatar
    Franck Legon

    no limit . and don’t forget fairytales, santa, god, mr potato, and so on, are not for real . go sane .

  29. avatar
    Rui Manuel Simões Oliveira

    Freedom of Speech, is a fundamental right that we all have conquered hardly and we must practice this kind of freedom consciensously. But we also cannot be afraid to express our thoughts, and our feelings freely because we live in a democracy and humor is a way to expand our aims and to claim more justice by showing with draws what goes bad in world, in order to be solved. There is only one response to these primitive acts like we have seen last week in Paris: the Union of all the state members. Is the only way to fight terrorism and to find strict solutions to put an end, in this particular menace to all Europe.

  30. avatar
    Nikolaos Sotirelis

    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”… Voltaire!!!
    If we’ll make discounts to free speech then… they would have won!!!

  31. avatar
    Ed Cocks

    There is a limit but it requires application of the rule of law and the test of the reasonable man. Simply, the only limit should be the consequences faced for deliberate falsehoods which cause the death or injury of others. The obvious ones are false witness situations such as screaming “Fire!” in a crowded location or delivering deliberately false statements in courts.

  32. avatar

    The matter is very simple. Freedom of speech started in ancient Athens as a right enjoyed within a democratic system. It referred to the freedom to criticise how the city-state was run without suffering any consequences. HOWEVER, a fundamental concept of any constitution and/or political system is the preservation of its nature and indefinite continuation. Therefore, anyone can express their views as long as they don’t criticise the nature of the political system, the rights that are an integral part of it and/or call for its discontinuation. Also, calling for someone(s) life to be taken would not be protected under freedom of speech, as murder also is illegal.
    In terms of the incidents in France, bearing in mind that the French state is secular and no specific religion comes under its protection, it would be perfectly permissible to satirise any religion and since French law does not align itself with any specific religion’s law, Muslim prohibitions on depicting faces would not be enforced under French law. As long as Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons did not explicitly verbalise hatred and/or call for murder or any other illegal activity towards Muslims they would be permissible under freedom of speech.
    From then onwards, people need to consider whether the laws of a specific country suit them and are good for their needs. People should choose to live where they agree with the laws and the existing social order.
    In terms of the Pope’s comments, I find it inappropriate that he is interfering in a political issue. The Church should stick to spiritual affairs. Not only this, but he also seems to think that under certain circumstances physical violence is acceptable. This is not compatible with Christian values. Jesus said, Turn the other cheek. Once again the Roman-Catholic church disappoints and shows that Christian values are not at its core…
    Charlie Hebdo satirised many different people/religions. However, only Muslims decided to attack it. Is the satire truly to blame?

  33. avatar
    Paulo Braga

    Bit isn’t France ruled by the French and by the French culture and laws!?? What is the problem here, if the French society acepts this kind of freedom?

  34. avatar

    I have heard it said that the limit of one person’s freedom lies at the point where another person’s freedom begins and that is why there are reprisals.

  35. avatar
    Raul Machado

    Was a fake this parade organized by Holland…… Sarkozy versus Lybia…… Merkel versus south countries of Europe ….. Turkey against the freedom of speech……. Benjamin Netanyahu against the people of Palestine ……. And so on…… All the pseudo democrats trying to show that they are democrats…….. The carnival is only in February not now…..

  36. avatar
    Björn Eric Ingemar Grahn

    Offcouse not and is should not cause when the democracy will end. It’s the freedom of speech witch free us from the people that suppressed us before.

  37. avatar
    Jason Pi

    Europe IS NOT in shock. Nobody gives a flying fluff about Paris and Charlie because they realise that this is an operational experiment to obfuscate what is slowly crystallising in our EUROPEAN minds which is atavic, and there is no easy buy-out left to transact here. This is a dangerous experiment, no better than the Colosseum was.

  38. avatar
    Nikoleta Dimitrova

    no limits for freedom of speech as well,we live in Europe by our laws,Sharia law is not ours and it shouldnt effect us,for those who dont like it they should go back to the sharia countries,because in their original countries we dont haver any rights,why should they have rights here to change our democracy?

  39. avatar
    Trond Johannessen

    Free Speech has limits – we are enforcing these every day. A politician publishing a photoshopped image of ex-minister Kyenge with the head of an orangutang, was sentenced in Italy, while in France, Charlie Hebdo published a monkey drawing of the French Minister of Justice. Both represent an insult to these fine women dedicating their lives to public service. I don’t agree with any of them politically, but their integrity as women and elected representatives of the people sho.uld not have to be attacked by primitive, racist slur. We are protecting people from being mobbed on the net, or at school – especially kids. We are protecting homosexuals from homophobic attacks. If we look closely, “Free Speech” is a pretext often used by the Press, but poor suckers claiming “Free Speech” rights without being a politician or a member of the 4th Estate are apparently second class citizens, and free game. If you then offend politicians and journalists, you’re just asking for it. What we need is to build European values – we need to bootstrap to let our inner voices tell us what is right, and not rely on mass media to provide for our spiritual growth. The law cannot on its own set the limits for what people can do. Charlie Hebdo is trash, and they just made some 9 mill revenue on the deaths of 12 staff members. That in itself makes them trash in my world of right and wrong. My point is that we will have Charlie Hebdo, abusive pornographic materials, extreme political views expressed in the media, and our only real defense against becoming Charlie is to fight the battle by setting standards in schools, assisting individuals to develop their spiritual identity as the I that has a cognitive and physical aspect limited in time. Today, we put a premium on our cognitive and physical beings, and suppress our spiritual selves – often with the help of drugs and excesses that favor our physical needs. The problem in the world remains to distinguish between right and wrong without having to use Google or ask the Justice System. Religions of all societies are of course the traditional sources of spiritual growth, but I think we need to see beyond that and start with the idea that we first and foremost have a spiritual self and not be afraid to explore that – even if it may be a life long journey of searching, of doubting, of seeing veiled images, while the supermarket offers concrete plonk at 3,99 a bottle, the game is on tv and lasts 90 minutes, and the game on the smartphone says you are champion 24×7. We are outsourcing the I, the being, existence itself, if we have to consult others for right and wrong. The paradox of Free Speech is that a society that has a deep sense of right and wrong will be very tolerant, and some of the finest satire, and perhaps most elegantly delivered wounds, arise in such societies. When society sees a decline in values, Free Speech becomes a liability, as some will not have internalized inhibitors to publish that which others will not have internalized capacity to ignore, and so develop grudges that may cause violent responses. If we then make things more complex, societies are built on different cultures and identity is sometimes strongly tied to internalized values shared in the specific culture of a nation, region, language group or religious direction. Given the rapid globalization of communications technology and access to news and forum exchanges, cultures and value systems collide. The “Free Speech” that claims a legal protection because the voices are French residents do not ask for permission from more than their own little pond of 66 mill people out of a global 7bn+ population. “Free Speech” is an antiquated idea, especially when claimed by people who declare a war not of words, but of images – a higher impact medium. It is antiquated without a global consensus of what it means. It is not necessary if we share cultural background and values. If we barricade ourselves behind national borders and throw grenades into the lives of people of other nations, strongly committed to their shared values, we become mercenaries, bellic agents, provocateurs. If we do so just to make a buck from the bottom 1% in society on a values scale, we are Trash. If we think that is about “Free Speech” and not about values that stimulate a consideration of right and wrong in each and every one of us, we will likely see escalating conflicts and repeating history.

    • avatar

      I am totally agree with you

  40. avatar
    Javier Ortiz

    Of course! or is it okay to insult or verbally assault or harass another individual just because we dont like them or dont like something about them?

  41. avatar
    Philippe Rossignol

    Liberté d’expression : oui dans la limite du respect de celle des autres et avec tolérance.
    Le droit à l’information et à être informé devient de plus en plus réduit.
    Les restrictions sont issues d’une hégémonie politique.
    Charlie Hebdo a été une cible.
    Le terrorisme en matière de liberté d’expression n’est qu’une partie visible de l’iceberg. La récupération politique de l’événement peut être encore plus pernicieuse.
    Le mouvement « Je suis Charlie » peut être considéré comme un plébiscite. Fort de ce soutien, sous couvert de lutte contre le terrorisme, se dessine une dérive ; des résolutions portant atteintes à la liberté d’expression.
    Attention aux pressions, aux contrôles abusifs des pouvoirs politiques et financiers.
    Les membres de la presse et les médias se doivent d’exiger d’être libres et de pouvoir respecter la déontologie et les règles éthiques.
    Tous les peuples on le droit d’être informés.
    La manipulation et la censure (souvent auto-censure) sont de plus en plus courantes, importantes.
    L’accès à une information fiable est de plus en plus limité. Et ceux qui peuvent y accéder, ont de moins en moins confiance.
    Nous sombrons dans l’obscurantisme.

  42. avatar
    Antoine Che

    France has already arrested 54 people for “condoning terrorism” on social media.
    Until the most uncomfortable language is equally protected, the concept of free speech will remain a political tool, never a right.

  43. avatar
    Antoine Che

    “The internet as a whole poses a threat to the ruling class, because in its current form ideas cannot be fully controlled. The internet in its current form makes it very hard for them to hide their corruption, their wars of aggression, and their covert operations, and that makes it hard to govern. They intend to change that (for your security of course).
    Funny isn’t it, 17 people people get killed in France, supposedly over a question of free speech, and the first thing that governments of the world want to do is use that event to take away free speech on the internet.”

  44. avatar

    The matter is very simple. Freedom of speech started in ancient Athens as a right enjoyed within a democratic system. It referred to the freedom to criticise how the city-state was run without suffering any consequences. HOWEVER, a fundamental concept of any constitution and/or political system is the preservation of its nature and indefinite continuation. Therefore, anyone can express their views as long as they don’t criticise the nature of the political system, the rights that are an integral part of it and/or call for its discontinuation. Also, calling for someone(s) life to be taken would not be protected under freedom of speech, as murder also is illegal.
    In terms of the incidents in France, bearing in mind that the French state is secular and no specific religion comes under its protection, it would be perfectly permissible to satirise any religion and since French law does not align itself with any specific religion’s law, Muslim prohibitions on depicting faces would not be enforced under French law. As long as Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons did not explicitly verbalise hatred and/or call for murder or any other illegal activity towards Muslims they would be permissible under freedom of speech.
    From then onwards, people need to consider whether the laws of a specific country suit them and are good for their needs. People should choose to live where they agree with the laws and the existing social order.
    In terms of the Pope’s comments, I find it inappropriate that he is interfering in a political issue. The Church should stick to spiritual affairs. Not only this, but he also seems to think that under certain circumstances physical violence is acceptable. This is not compatible with Christian values. Jesus said, Turn the other cheek. Once again the Roman-Catholic church disappoints and shows that Christian values are not at its core…
    Charlie Hebdo satirised many different people/religions. However, only Muslims decided to attack it. Is the satire truly to blame?

  45. avatar
    Maria Helena Neto

    Freedom of speech is essential to our way
    of living in EuroPe. That does not mean disrespect for tbose WHO think diferently.

  46. avatar
    Malik Sajjad

    I’m not charlie
    Please Respect all Religions
    All Religions teach us love Peace humanity
    Freedom of speech not mean you hart people

    • avatar
      Paul X

      “All Religions teach us love Peace humanity”

      Yo obviously haven’t got to the chapter on Islam yet in your “Teach Yourself About Religion” book

  47. avatar
    Kremena Delin

    “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”


  48. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    I respect religious believers now the freedom and rights belong to human

  49. avatar
    Flora Ohlsen

    It comes down to RESPECT.We as a generation and people of the world have fallen short of this simple basic act -RESPECT #is manner or feeling of esteem given to a person, group, or organization. It relates to one’s positive ethics and attitude towards other people and entities. Be it our ACTIONS or OUR WORDS written or spoken, if a daily dose of respect is not taken, this trap and cycle of negative unkindness against each other gets us to believe we are moving but instead all we are doing is sitting in a rocking chair that’s not getting us anywhere.RESPECT also means to question and challenge with a NO what we don’t understand .But at the end of the day, it’s about how you say “no”, rather than the fact you’re saying NO in your speech or action.

  50. avatar
    Chiara Campanelli

    I think we are free in our actions until our freedom doesn’t contrast to the other’s sake. We should respect all religions and beliefs, and religion should be kept out from State, which must be laic. But I think this consideration must be take in regard when we talk about racism, integration, multiculturalism.
    The satire should be detached from this social and politcal logic. Satire is simply a joke, it might hurt’s other’s feelings, but it has not as end to fuel hate and hatred. Actually, laugh at our cultural differences could improve our relationship. The Paris attack are a response not to the satire, but to all european and western culture. It should be taken as a symbol of the gap between our culture. To prevent future attack we need to improve the resilience of our society, we need to better integrate the minority group, so they could in the future laugh at the Charlie Hebdo’s joke and don’t see it as a declaration of war.

  51. avatar
    Rudi Spoljarec

    certainly there are limits of freedom of speech . Ethics , morality,education.Those people who don’t respect religion should respect ethics. If they don’t ,it means they are uneducated.They can’t work in public job.

  52. avatar
    Ferenc Lázár

    There must be limits! If you insult and show no respect to other cultures/religions, that is leading to wars! That is what happened throughout all history and we never learn from it. Or maybe this is the way how some evil powers want to push Europe to warzone…

  53. avatar
    catherine benning

    Reading through this thread I see why the UK feels we must detach from Europe. The strange and very scary realisation that so many people, and obviously new countries, within our European borders has become so polluted by those who have no idea what freedom of expression or speech really is. How can we align ourselves legally with such a group and expect to keep our hard fought for heritage and civilisation. It would not be possible being in a club of subjugated people. No wonder they are all running to Britain for solace.

    The level of education of many in the upper echelons of the EU is so low and so pathetic it is not possible to have an alliance of equals. They have little or no understanding of the essence of freedom and what it means not to be hog tied to their slave masters. They have a very long way to go. How the Germans and French, who have a wonderful culture and lifestyle want to be part of the mire I witness here is an enigma to me.

    • avatar
      Sean Conrad

      Actually yes I do have a right to mock, lampoon or otherwise disparage the thing you call religion and I call superstitious nonsense. These rights were hard won in this country so no I won’t be silenced just because you feel insulted.

    • avatar

      Wrong. I do have that right. And religion deserves to be mocked. If only for the simple fact that there is no ‘god’, there are no ‘gods’, they made it up.

      And I will not be told by anyone that I cannot call a warmonger a warmonger, or that I cannot call a murderer a murderer.

      Whether it is the bible or the quran or many of the other books proclaimed to be ‘holy’, these books seem to contain massive amounts of verses that urge the believers to go out and terrorize or murder the unbelievers.

      The bible for example mandates that parents have a duty to have any disobedient child stoned. And elsewhere it says that one of the main characters in the bible, some dude called ‘Jesus’ specifically states that all ‘law’ from the bible is unalterable and perpetually valid.

      And you’re telling me I cannot ‘insult’ that?

  54. avatar
    catherine benning

    @ Marcel, I agree with you. However, try and insult what is going on in British schools under the provocative politically correct dogma we adults in the UK and our children are suffering. And see if they allow you to speak up.

    We are told, or it is alluded, that the cause of this attack on our society and its basis in religion is resulting from our being part of the EU. And, that as a result we must get ourselves out of that union before we live in a sociedty run by maniacs.

    Is this happening in other EU States like France and Germany? And if so, are they happy with it? Because, I would condemn this horrendous practice as an outright attack on the ‘freedom of expression or speech’ to do so. And to do it to children smells very much like the rise of fascism to me. They are closing this Chrisitna backed school because these children knew little or anything about homosexuality and Islam at the age of nine to eleven.

  55. avatar
    British Patriot ;)

    There are limits to free speech, whether we believe it or not. There probably should be too. I think it should be a crime to call for violence or to encourage crime but other than that, even if you have horrible offensive opinions (racist/biggot etc) you should be allowed to express your opinions as long as you are as respectful as you possibly can be and in no way try to encourage others to take the same view

  56. avatar


  57. avatar

    Once you limit freedom of speech, it’s not ‘free’ anymore. Freedom of speech also refers to freedom from persecution from the government. Everyone should be able to say what’s on their mind, whether it’s thought-provocative, critical or ignorant. The government shouldn’t be involved with people’s opinions. But people shouldn’t use the excuse of freedom of speech to be an asshole. There are moral limits, and each person should decide when to draw that line. A person should be respectful of other people’s opinions, religions, etc.
    I was reminded of a quote from Alan Derschowitz (an American author and political commentator), in which he said, “The threat or fear of violence should not become an excuse or justification for restricting freedom of speech.” In Charlie Hebdo’s case, most news networks censored the caricatures of Mohammed. Censoring ‘offensive’ caricatures is exactly what extremists want. As much as I respect a religion’s set of rules, I don’t approve of the use of violence to express their frustration (I do know that it is a very, very small minority of the Muslims that use violence, and every religion has extremists that result to violent measure when they can’t put their anger into words). Although Hebdo’s depiction of Mohammed was harsh and to many, offensive, what gives religion the right to be free from criticism? Everyone should be able to express their feelings and thoughts about things, whether they are well-informed or not (although it would be much better to be informed before forming an opinion). Everyone should be able to have an opinion, no matter how unpopular or controversial it is.

  58. avatar

    It should be restricted because people are stupid!

  59. avatar
    Joseph Martin

    Freedom of speech does not exist. Try writing a comment on the Daily Mail that goes against the its editorial line and it will never be published.

  60. avatar
    Thomas Beavitt

    There are certainly CONSEQUENCES to the exercise of freedom of speech. That’s obvious, otherwise it would be immaterial whether it were “free” or not.

  61. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    Try saying you don’t agree with the federalist dogma on any EU facebook page, you will find freedom of speech is meaningless to them and they will ban you..

    Makes you wonder when the book burning will begin.

  62. avatar
    Jorge Lux

    Yes, unfortunately the limits imposed by the muslims and the european coward politicians. Hopefully not for much longer cause europeans are rising up!

  63. avatar
    Maria Helena Neto

    Although my freedom finishes where yours beggins I think that freedom of speech within the necessary respect is essential to good relationship with others. We must always express our thoughts or otherwise we will not be able to build a good society to live in.

  64. avatar
    Ermal Sulaj

    I know one thing, “Your freedom ends where the other’s starts”. Same thing for the freedom of speech.

  65. avatar
    Dobromir Panchev

    Charlie Hebdo is example how freedom of speech can be abused.

  66. avatar
    Miguel Vieira


    Free expression is the base of human rights, the root of human nature and the mother of truth. To kill free speech is to insult human rights, to stifle human nature and to suppress truth.

    ? Liu Xiaobo

    You should protest about the views of people you disagree with over major moral issues, and argue them down, but you should not try to silence them, however repugnant you find them. That is the bitter pill free speech requires us to swallow.

    ? Julian Baggini

    Free speech is meant to protect unpopular speech. Popular speech, by definition, needs no protection.

    ? Neal Boortz

    The Framers of the Constitution knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.

    ? Hugo Black

    It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.

    ? Herbert Hoover

    Fear of serious injury alone cannot justify oppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.

    ? Louis D. Brandeis

    ?Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech?

    ? Benjamin Franklin?s

  67. avatar
    zahra labiba ahmed

    Well I think we are not defining the freedom of speech correctly. We all know that freedom of speech of course means you can say whatever you want but the thing is we leave in a society it is obvious that our opinions won’t match max. time. freedom of speech is our right , but every individual is aware of that , that we only can get our rights from the society or government when we will acccomplish our duties towards them. otherwise we should not be surprised if they mention us as betrayer . to respect our fellow workers and other individuals arround us , is our duty . showing humanity is our duty. being sensible is our duty. So only when we will respect people , practice humanity, we will get the right from freedom of speaking .And since we have to respect everyone , we cannot criticize some crutial things like religion . and we also cannot criticize individuals without knowing the exact truth. here is the limit to freedom of speech. they can give their opinion but they cannot make fun of them.

  68. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    I am charlie hebdo freedomof expression has limits

  69. avatar
    Aleksandros Ho Megas

    France is a good example how “free” speech hypocrisy has infected Europe. After Charlie Hebdo incident they were all saying how freedom of speech is important and how nothing should be “out of reach” of critics and humour even something that others hold sacred; BUT France has laws that it makes punishable even by prison if You in any way say something about Holocaust that challenges the official story.
    Also whole political correctness deal is just cultural marxism fascism creeping into our personal freedoms, among first to get assaulted is freedom of speech.

  70. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    RESPECT ! Why should we respect this ? Is this not a crime ? People are just loosing their time and money . Religious truth , Virgin Mary is going to do big thing , they promise , get believers , make money , nothing is going to happen , they change story and do the same thing again :

  71. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Freedom, any freedom, ends where your fellow human freedom starts!
    One’s freedom ends where one’s self discipline has to take its place!

  72. avatar
    David Eaton

    No I don’t believe there should be a limit to freedom of speech, however I do recognise that such a right will be abused by those with hateful intentions. It should not be a question about can I say this but instead a question of should I say this. After all if we refuse the right to freedom of speech/ freedom of expression how can we fight tyranny and hate when our response would be limited

  73. avatar
    Daniele Laganà

    The only possibility of limit the free speech is the instigation to commit crime or violence. ;)

  74. avatar
    Victor Sorin Popaliciu

    no there are no limits for the freedom of speach but freedom of speach does not meen freedom for the natzi propaganda,tyrans propaganda of plots,the propaganda of all sorts of extremists,the propaganda against women and here it is included the propaganda in wich women are presented as sex toys in musical clips and movies,and so on.

  75. avatar
    Antoinette Baldacchino

    Freedom of speech does not mean hurting anyone’s feelings or be vulgar or in bad taste. Prudence is the key to freedom of speech as it regulates what can be said.

  76. avatar
    عادل م.

    I think the limits of freedom of speaking dont have to exist. Only god can judge he’s creaturs about wath they say.

  77. avatar
    Anka Tm

    Terrorists kill people. Charlie attacks ideas and believes. We need to see that the rest of people are sth good for us. Why kill? Why laugh? Responsibility is our price to be free.

  78. avatar
    Anka Tm

    Seamos esclavos de las leyes para ser los amos de nuestra libertad.

  79. avatar
    Miguel Vieira

    Is why I think globalization will never work, because the majority always want power, control others, and that don’t have nothing to do with education, morals, individual freedom, they think they can, and others want the opposite, the best to do is, divide the world half/half, those who advocate individual liberty in one side, the rest of in the other side, good idea, lets do that..

  80. avatar
    Miguel Vieira

    Sem dvida alguma que a generalidade dos Portugueses que por aqui escrevem s demonstram que suportam o estado corrupto em Portugal, nepotismo, cunhas, favores, promiscuidade, atraso, ignorncia generalizada, e pensam que o melhor para o resto da europa precisamente o modelo Portugus, no por acaso que toda a informao (data) demonstra que o pas da EU com mais desigualdades e corrupo, mas para esta gente, tanto faz, desde que nada faam, que o nvel de vida se mantenha, para eles o paraso est encontrado

  81. avatar
    Maria Silva

    Sim. Devemos respeitar os outros, nas diferentes culturas, religies e modos de pensar! Se queremos ser respeitados…

  82. avatar
    Charalambos Cherkezos

    Charlie Hebdo first appeared in 1970 as a companion to the monthly Hara-Kiri magazine, after a previous title was banned for mocking the death of former French President Charles de Gaulle…….so much for the much advertised freedom of speech !!!!!! QUOTED FROM WIKIPEDIA

  83. avatar
    Santo Jaime

    Para atacar a Religiao dos Outros e a Politica dos Outros, no h LIMITE; qq palavrinha mais ousada em CASA, contra a Religaio Dominante Catolica e Vaticanos ou Partidos Alemaes, levas c a CIA a PIDE, o SIS, o Jorge Silva Carvalho, o desemprego, vais parar a um call centre, ds em maluco e nunca mais s gente……este o “tal” Limite….no ha LIMITE para as mentiras dos Governantes e Banqueiros…a ULTIMA e Melhor Mentira :::NAO SEI, NAO ME LEMBRO……..

  84. avatar
    Leo Vlaming

    All Rights and freedoms have Some limits. In the case of freedom of speech these should be limited to explicit calls for physical violence and libel against other individuals.

  85. avatar
    Paul Moldovan

    There should be limits related to the responsibility. If anybody speaks in public, he should be able to prove what he is telling. If what he speaks harms someone and he has no reason to speak, he should be asked to face the law.

  86. avatar
    Michel Percan

    Insolting and attacking sanctity of other people is not freedom of speach. Specially when you clearly dont apply it on everyone.

  87. avatar
    Natasha Antonie

    we are free to say whatever we feel is going to change opinions or to consolidate them, but our sense of truth is going to be always criticised. Our reality will always intersect other’s reality, but we are just a minority

  88. avatar
    Inês Beato

    I think all opinions should be allowed even opinions that might be harmful to others. Obviously it doesn’t mean we have to agree with those opinions and it doesn’t exclude people of having responsibility for them or their actions.
    If we start limiting free speech now for the “right reasons” we open up a precedent, then what will happen in the future and who will decide what is acceptable to think and say?

  89. avatar
    Buj Alex

    there is no limit in freedom of speach … “verba volant scripta manent”!!! international law is not based on auditive or visual supositions that cannot be reproduced!!! so … the rest is just personal interpretation !! so F OFF !!!

  90. avatar
    Miguel Vieira

    Popular trick of totalitarian movements: Label any critique or call for debate as an insult and punish the offenders.

  91. avatar
    Παυλος Καραγιαννιδης

    I disagree..It just burdens the speaker with the responsibility of its word! You can say whatever you wish but only after proving your words irresponsible on its content you shall be punished! So for example on relegion topics noone could be pubished because you can’t prove anything

  92. avatar

    Is freedom of speech mean freedom of making fun of others? Is it not bullying ? Or freedom of speech means think before you talk . Every action we do we know the reaction . Thats a natural phenomena of human being .We touch fire it burns. Because that is the nature of the fire. Besides religion if we insult some body’s loved one we already know that there should be a reaction, because that is the nature of human being . Charlie already know the reaction by publishing funny cartoons of millions of people’s loved one . He get what exactly he want for, by camouflaging it ” freedom of speech ” and” religion reaction ” . And keeping us busy arguing each others about something we called ego. He became famous in days. Earn trillion of dollars , under the protection of freedom of speech. Very easy business .

  93. avatar


  94. avatar

    Your comment is awaiting moderation. WHO’S DECIDING THIS?

  95. avatar

    Freedom of speech is vital and opposition to someone’s opinion or interpretation of something is expected , it is part of freedom of speech, however murder is definitely not a mature or reasonable way to deal with this issue.

  96. avatar
    Aaron minihane

    For anyone who I labouring under the impression that we have unrestricted free speech I challenge you to find a police officer and call him a profanity see what happen. To truly have freedom we must retain the rule of law, the restraints we chose to live under are designed to ensure the we have as much freedom as we can with out allowing those freedoms to be abused, imagine a world with out restraints and imagine that you were targeted for whatever reason not just online but in the real world and there is no law to stop it, true freedom is anarchy. So ask yourself if the thing you loved more than anything elce in the world was belittled, mocked and you were told to lighten up accept it there nothing you can do they have the righ to mock you how would you feel. I’m agnostic, I don’t agree with any organised religion but I do believe that those who do, have the right to believe what they wish as long as it is under the confines of a fair and just legal system. Extremist are not born that way something in there lives drove them to it little Mohamed didn’t wake up one day and decide to blow something up just the same as little paddy or little Juhn we all know that this is the product of the Cold War, spies playing chess with the world and now we’ve decided that the games over everything’s fine no harm no foul, it time that the people stood up and demanded that those responsible for the monster that has been unleashed upon us to be held accountable, it time to recognise that there are normal people caught up in this who just want to be happy and live life, the only way to truly combat extremism is to insure that little whoever has a fair chance at happiness. Bombs creat extremism, love creates love.

  97. avatar
    carol a north

    Democracy is debate openly and without fear of retribution.. Debate to the best future outcome to all.. No

  98. avatar

    Right away I am going to do my breakfast, later than having
    my breakfast coming yet again to read additional news.

  99. avatar
    Donald Clippinger

    its no reason to put me in facebook jail.its allmost Christmas

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