Je suis Charlie – is it right to print cartoons that some find offensive? Is it deliberately provocative?


There is a debate here that is worth exploring.

The grotesque murder of people for publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohamed is undoubtedly wrong. Most people, Muslims included, find those acts barbaric and reprehensible.

However those cartoons were offensive to many Muslims and perhaps deliberately so.

The debate is whether, in a free country with the right of freedom of speech, it is right to intentionally cause offense.

In the West we have a long tradition of lampooning, ridiculing and belittling our politicians, religious leaders and celebrities. Despite the fact that this causes offense to the targets of these lampoons and their followers.

We hold this right to be sacrosanct and a tenet of freedom of speech which is the basis of a free society and our democracy. This freedom, tolerance and democracy is why so many want to come and live here.

However, out of respect for our Muslim minority at what is a sensitive time, taking account of their particular sensitivity in this area, would it not be judicious to moderate this right instead of being inflammatory?

On one hand we have a group of people who are adamant that enough is enough and a point needs to be made; freedom of speech is non-negotiable. We need to publish whatever we want with impunity. Threats of violence will not dissuade us. It is a right.

On the other hand we have a group of devoutly religious people who feel angered, threatened and blamed. They feel they are under attack and grouped in with the barbaric thugs who have misused their religion, but they are also extremely offended and upset.

Are we presenting the Islamists an excuse? Are we fuelling more converts to extremism?

Or are we standing firm in the face of violence and showing we will not be cowed?

What are your views?


I was accused of being Islamophobic. I wanted to make it quite clear that I am not. I am an extremely tolerant antitheist. I do not care what belief system any person adheres to. I believe that all beliefs are equally daft but that everybody is entitled to their own views. I would stand up to support the right of anybody having whatever faith they want. I would love to see the demised of all organised religions. I think they are responsible for a lot of the world’s wrongs but I would want to bring this about through discussion, logic and sanity and not through violence.
I happen to believe that Islam is the biggest offender against human rights in the present day. It is intolerant, violent, dogmatic, bigoted and extremely primitive in its ideology.
But I am not Islamophobic.
However, I am completely opposed to:

a. Indoctrination (particularly of young children)
b. Enforcement of rituals, dress-codes and practices associated with religion
c. Female circumcision
d. Misogyny and misogynistic practice (such as disenfranchising women, preventing women being educated, making women wear veils, burqas and shapeless clothing, making women walk paces behind men, preventing women driving cars, keeping women locked indoors, stoning women to death for having been raped etc.)
e. Barbaric stoning to death
f. Barbaric beheadings
g. Flying airplanes full of innocent people into buildings full of innocent people
h. Punishments and death sentences for apostasy

I believe in tolerance, equality and freedom. I believe it is essential that all civilised people should speak out against abuse to human rights.
I wish moderate Muslims would speak out against the atrocities being carried out in their name. The fact that they are largely silent says it all!
I believe people should have the right to chose a faith or no faith and the right to change their minds.
I believe that the murderers who are orchestrating out suicide bombings, stonings, beheadings, torture and gang-rapes under the guise of religious doctrine are guilty of crimes against all humanity and should be locked away for life.
No sane god would sanction such cruel, savage behaviour. They are fanatic fundamentalists who are deluding themselves and others.

Sharing this planet with the fanatics of any religious persuasion is a frustrating, infuriating, bewildering and demoralising experience. They are all the low point of human civilisation. It is incredible to me that these savages really believe they are carrying out the wishes of any god or religious doctrine.

Surely it is time for all reasonable people to speak out!!

Read what I think of religion in my three books: