The Association of American University Presses issues the following statement, in tandem with the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and many others. One of AAUP’s core values is the freedom of thought, inquiry, and expression.
New York, NY—Anyone who values freedom of expression is horrified by the terrorist attacks on the offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Early reports indicate that ten of the magazine’s staffers were killed, including editor Stephane Charbonnier. Two police officers were also killed on the scene.
The magazine has a long history of publishing sharp satirical work that no doubt shocks and offends many readers. The magazine has published material mocking the Pope, Jesus Christ, and French political figures, among others. In 2011 their website was hacked and their offices firebombed after publication of an issue ‘guest edited’ by Muhammad. The magazine remained committed to publishing material some might find offensive or inflammatory.
Some reports say the attackers identified themselves as being affiliated with Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate and were heard saying, “We have avenged the prophet.”
After the 2011 firebomb attack, French prime minister Francois Fillon called freedom of expression “an inalienable right in our democracy” and that “all attacks on the freedom of the press must be condemned with the greatest firmness.”
That commitment—in France and anywhere else—should not waver in the face of today’s brutality. The National Coalition Against Censorship and many other organizations committed to the fundamental value of free expression condemn these hideous and barbaric attacks, which represent a chilling and extreme assault on freedom of speech. The failure to stand up for free expression emboldens those who seek to attack and undermine it.