Charlie Hebdo EIC Blasts Media for Cowardice

Gerard Biard: cartoons ‘symbol of freedom of speech’

January 18, 2015

On Sunday, the new editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo blasted news outlets that decided not to show the magazine's latest cover, accusing them of censoring democracy and insulting the public.

"This cartoon is not just a little figure," Gérard Biard said through a translator. "It’s a symbol. It’s the symbol of freedom of speech, of freedom of religion, of democracy, and secularism. It is this symbol that these newspapers refuse to publish."

"This is what they must understand: 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 religion, and they insult the citizenship."

Biard differentiated between outlets operating under repressive governments and those in democratic nations, telling NBC’s Meet the Press, he could not "blame" the papers that would face "at best jail and at worst death," if they published the cartoon.

Since the Paris attack, countless media outlets in the United States and abroad have chosen to censor the controversial cartoons, but the publication pressed on, releasing a cover that depicts Mohammed crying and holding a sign that reads "Je Suis Charlie."

The cover has sparked protests and criticism from both Muslims and non-Muslims around the world.

Pope Francis recently contended that there are limits to free speech, and said it is wrong to "insult the faith of others." In Niger, a predominantly Muslim nation, protests have left five dead.

Biard remained determined, telling NBC religion has "no place" in politics.

"We have a problem when faith and religion become political. Then we become worried and we attack. Then we respond because we are convinced that religion has no place in the political arena, because once religion injects itself in the debate then the debate becomes totalitarian."

He later said, "We do not kill anyone. We must 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."

Charlie Hebdo, Biard argued, is solely focused on defending freedom.

"We only defend one thing. Freedom. Our freedom. Secularism. Freedom of conscious and democracy."