In February 2006, when Danish flags were burning after the country’s largest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, launched a journalistic experiment by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, an international debate started. Which is more important: freedom of speech or religious feelings? In 2020, we haven’t come much further in this debate, while the list of terrorist attacks related to this topic has become significantly longer.
The most recent addition to the list is the murder and beheading of French history teacher Samuel Paty, who used cartoons from a French satirical magazine whose editorial team was the target of a bloody attack, in class to discuss freedom of speech with his students.
This murder has affected French society even more than the pandemic and quarantine. During the ceremony in honour of the victim, President Emmanuel Macron made himself very clear: “This is an attack on the Republic”.
Macron knows that the majority of French people support him when he constantly speaks of the republican values that were at the heart of the French Revolution of 1789. France is committed to protecting secular traditions. However, laicism, the rigid separation of politics and religion, recorded in laws since 1905, is a French feature that the country has “exported” to other regions of the world.
France and the Alliance With the Ottoman Empire
The Republic of Turkey, founded by Kemal Ataturk in 1923, was a country that had also consolidated this laicism, both at the…