Five years ago today, on 7th January 2015, the team of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly newspaper, was slaughtered by terrorists acting in the name of radical Islamism.
The European Humanist Federation pays tribute to the 12 persons who fell on that tragic day: Charlie Hebdo cartoonists Cabu, Wolinski, Charb, Tignous, Honoré; the economist Bernard Maris, psychanalyst Elsa Cayat, proofreader Mustapha Ourrad, journalist Michel Renaud, maintenance worker Frédéric Boisseau, and police officers Frank Brinsolaro and Ahmed Merabet.
They were killed only because they made use of one of the most fundamental rights: freedom of expression. Continuing a long tradition of anticlerical satire, Charlie Hebdo published cartoons depicting Muhammad in order to criticise and mock religious fanaticism and obscurantism.
The European Humanist Federation asserts that freedom of expression is a fundamental principle of a free, open and democratic society. It includes the freedom to criticise or even make fun of religious dogmas and objects of worship, even when considered as blasphemous. This freedom has played a crucial role in the development of secular and liberal societies, free from religious coercion.
The attacks produced a chilling effect on free speech. The EHF deplores that in early 21st century Europe, religious fanaticism still kills, threatens life and forces people to live in hiding or under police protection simply for expressing their opinion.
The European Humanist Federation also pays homage to the victims of related radical Islamist murders on the following days: municipal police officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe and kosher supermarket hostages Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab and François-Michel Saada, killed in a vicious Anti-Semitic attack.