Charlie Hebdo’s new editor-in-chief excoriated the American media for blurring the out controversial images of the weekly newspaper’s covers, especially those that feature caricatures of Muhammad.
Gerard Briard appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday and told host Chuck Todd that when the media hides images, “you blur out democracy.”
Briard excused media operating in oppressive regimes “for not publishing a cartoon which could cost them, at best jail, and at worst death,” and reserved his criticism for media in democratic countries.
“This cartoon is not just a little figure. It’s a symbol. It’s the symbol of freedom of speech, of freedom of [conscience], of democracy, and secularism,” he told Todd through an interpreter. “When they refuse to publish this cartoon, when they blur it out, when they decline to publish it, they blur out democracy, secularism, freedom of [conscience], and they insult the citizenship.
Briard dismissed Todd’s suggestion that he was being drawn into the war on terror between the West and radical Islami.
“We do not kill anyone,” he said. “We should stop conflating the murderers and the victims. We must stop declaring that those who write and draw are ‘provocateurs,’ that they are throwing gas on the fire. We must not place thinkers and artists in the same category as murderers. We are not warriors. We only defend one thing: Freedom, our freedom, secularism, freedom of conscience and democracy.”
He also answered Pope Francis’ criticism of Charlie Hebdo’s provocative covers.
“Every time that we draw a cartoon of Muhammad, every time we draw a cartoon of a prophet, every time we draw a cartoon of God, we defend the freedom of religion,” Briard told Todd. “We defend the freedom of religion. Yes, it is also the freedom of speech, but it is the freedom religion.”
He then brought the issue down to a church versus state argument.
“If faith, if religious arguments, step into the political arena, it becomes a totalitarian argument,” he continued. “Secularism defends against this. Secularism guarantees democracy and assures peace.”
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