Libération - France | 29/01/2015

Macron law not a threat to press freedom

In an open letter published on Tuesday, French journalists opposed an article in the law on free-market deregulation currently being discussed in parliament. The article stipulates drastic punishment for violations of trade secrets, which the journalists consider a "gag". But that's an exaggeration, lawyer Thibault Du Manoir de Juaye writes in the left-liberal daily Libération: "The legislation of several states, including the US and some European countries, contains texts on trade secrets which are formulated in a similar way. ... And these countries have not developed into dictatorships where freedom of opinion is gagged. We can rest assured that after a few modifications the text will no longer run counter to the interests of freedom. The freedom of expression for which four million French citizens demonstrated will not be jeopardised by 550 parliamentarians. In adopting the corrected version of [Economy Minister] Macron's text on the protection of trade secrets, they will protect jobs. So they have every reason to vote for it." (29/01/2015)

De Telegraaf - Netherlands | 30/01/2015

Police must boost security for journalists

A man brandishing a toy pistol forced his way into the studios of the Dutch national broadcaster on Thursday night. He appeared to be in a state of mental confusion. After 15 minutes he was arrested without putting up any resistance. The right-leaning daily De Telegraaf calls for action to be taken: "The open character of our society, which is so typical of our Dutch culture, is in great danger. Although this hostage-taking ended without serious consequences, the bitter lesson of this cowardly deed is that the responsible authorities need to offer journalists better protection as quickly as possible. ... Journalists must be able to go about their work in a democratic state based on the rule of law. But even after the attacks in Paris it seems there is no high state of alert to protect journalists." (30/01/2015)

Der Tagesspiegel - Germany | 23/01/2015

Not printing Muhammad cartoons is not a betrayal

Several media in Germany have criticised the US paper The New York Times for not reprinting the controversial cartoons of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. But not printing the cartoons is not a betrayal of press freedom, in the view of the liberal-conservative daily Der Tagesspiegel: "If the Muhammad cartoons are only being printed because the terrorists massacred the cartoonists, then it's the terrorists who determine what gets printed and when. That means what's decisive is no longer the editors' criteria but the social context. Heteronomy over autonomy. Knee-jerk reaction over sovereign decision making. It was as a result of a similar psychological mechanism that the US slid into the 'War on Terror' after 9/11. The New York Times has rejected this logic. One might disagree. But calling the paper an 'enemy of freedom' as a result is grotesque - also in view of the real enemies of freedom." (23/01/2015)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic | 20/01/2015

Charlie Hebdo taking things too far now

Gérard Biard, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, has criticised Western media that didn't reprint the cover of the current issue of the magazine, pointing out that the cartoon is a symbol of freedom of expression. He's gone too far now, the conservative daily Lidové noviny writes: "The solidarity with Charlie Hebdo was based on a higher moral principle. But does that mean that that solidarity entails reprinting the cover page everywhere? ... Editor in chief Biard casts himself as the arbiter of the free word. Freedom of expression means that anyone is free to publish things I don't like. But it doesn't mean that I have to publish what I don't like. Biard, however, insists on freedom of expression in this form. He is demagogically confusing freedom with solidarity according to the motto: those who refuse to publish the cartoon of the prophet are denying the victims of terrorism their solidarity." (20/01/2015)

Hürriyet - Turkey | 16/01/2015

Freedom of opinion stops at religious insults

The Turkish prosecution has been investigating the daily Cumhuriyet since Thursday after it reprinted the front page of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo. Banning its publication was the right move both legally and morally, columnist Taha Akyol writes in the conservative daily Hürriyet: "Freedom of opinion stops at insults. ... As the servant and messenger of Allah, the prophet is a founding pillar of Islam. Nothing offends and incenses a Muslim more than an insult against our prophet. Not only as a Muslim but also as a lawyer I agree with the ban on such cartoons. Many books are published today in Turkey which criticise Islam or defend anti-Semitism. Because they're critical but not insulting, neither the law nor the people have a problem with that. That too is correct. ... Criticism is part of freedom of opinion, but the problem is insults." (16/01/2015)

The Jordan Times - Jordan | 14/01/2015

Global perspectives: Europe's distorted view of Islam provoces Arab world

An undiscerning media debate on Islam and the publication of more Muhammad cartoons constitute an unnecessary provocation for the Arab world, the independent daily The Jordan Times admonishes: "Do the terrorists who carried out the attack against Charlie Hebdo staff and other targets represent Islam and all followers of the moderate faith of Islam in the same way right-wing groups and persons like the Ku Klux Klan and Adolf Hitler represent Christians? Terrorism is a global phenomenon that should be fought collaboratively by sane means, not by provocation. ... Journalists and media organisations have to have an understanding of cultural and religious sensitivities when they carry out their jobs. ... This does in no way mean that the media should be muzzled or freedoms curtailed; only that in everyday issues journalists should practise responsible freedom within the limits of their national laws and in accordance with ethics that forbid causing needless harm to people." (14/01/2015)

Le Canard enchaîné - France | 14/01/2015

Cabu would have laughed over the attack's impact

The cartoonist Cabu was one of those killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack. The satirical weekly Le canard enchâiné, for which Cabu also worked, imagines what he would have thought of how France's politicians and public have reacted to the massacre: "In this unimaginably distressful situation and before all this marvellous unity - which is already crumbling - collapses completely, he wouldn't have failed to chuckle along with us at [ex-president] Sarko's contorted attempts to get a good place in the photo [of marching heads of state]. Perhaps he would have been a bit embarrassed to have indirectly helped [President] Hollande regain the popularity he's been lacking for so long. Or to have fostered reconciliation between the police and the population. But he certainly would have laughed to see that Charlie, which could barely make ends meet, has now come out in an edition of 3 million copies. ... Perhaps some new readers will remember that it's always better to read papers than to mourn their passing." (14/01/2015)

Cumhuriyet - Turkey | 15/01/2015

Freedom of expression more sacred than prophet

The distribution of the Kemalist daily Cumhuriyet was impeded on Wednesday because it was the only Turkish media outlet to reprint certain sections of the current issue of Charlie Hebdo as a supplement. Two journalists who had featured the cover of the satirical magazine in their columns also received threats. One of them, Ceyda Karan, explains in Cumhuriyet why she doesn't regret her decision: "I have received thousands of reactions with insults and death threats. This is in total contradiction to the humane and sensitive message of the cartoon I put in my column. I published this cartoon by Charlie Hebdo because I saw no 'hatred' or 'offence' in the message 'All is forgiven' from a weeping figure. ... Anyone can have something that is sacred to them, and for me as a journalist that is freedom of opinion and freedom of conscience. If I had ignored the barbaric killings of my colleagues who expressed their thoughts through humour I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror anymore." (15/01/2015)

Webcafé - Bulgaria | 09/01/2015

Bulgaria's media are not Charlie

The reaction of Bulgarian media to the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was undignified, the online portal Webcafé criticises: "Did they so much as understand the gesture on the part of their French colleagues, who promised the surviving staff of Charlie Hebdo all the resources they needed to continue working? It seems not. After the attack, Bulgaria's five biggest papers printed the photo of a corpse on their front page, and beside it in bold letters 'Je suis Charlie'. That and the question of whether the cartoonists didn't take things too far show just how unfamiliar they are with the term 'collegial solidarity'. ... And why should things be any different when no one in Bulgaria talks about the journalists who have the courage to go on doing their jobs despite the displeasure of their employers and the ever-present (self-)censorship?" (09/01/2015)

Hürriyet Daily News - Turkey | 07/01/2015

New attack on Turkish press freedom

The Turkish police on Tuesday searched the Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink's house in Diyarbakir and interrogated her on charges of helping terrorist organisations. Geerdink's news reports had focused primarily on the Kurdish issue in recent years. Once again the freedom of opinion is under attack in the country, the liberal daily Hürriyet Daily news writes with concern: "The development comes only three weeks after the police raided Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV and arrested top executives of the two media outlets on charges of terrorism links, sparking strong reactions from the European Union and the United States. ... It's also getting more difficult for Turkey's friends in Europe to insist on a continued engagement with Turkey, given the circumstances. Last but not least, it's getting much more difficult for national and international journalists based in Turkey to do their job in a free, objective and brave way." (07/01/2015)

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