Humanists united in condemnation of Charlie Hebdo assassinations, support for free expression

8 January, 2015

Humanists in Britain and around the world are united in their condemnation of the brutal killings of journalists and cartoonists for the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in yesterday’s religiously motivated attack on free expression. Terrorists had previously attempted to firebomb the magazine in response to its publishing depictions of the prophet Muhammad.

And while humanist organisations around the world were not unique in stating their disgust at these brutal attacks, all were united in strongly urging people and governments to remember the crucial importance of the right to free expression.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has published this statement in response to the violence:

‘No words can adequately condemn the brutality of this disgusting attack. Our thoughts have of course been with the people of France throughout this truly terrifying ordeal.

‘We must also be clear that the ones to blame here are the terrorist perpetrators. Those who cry out for further censorship of cartoonists and writers in the wake of tragedies like this will only embolden the murderous outrages of these criminals.

‘The right to free expression is a universal one, and it lies at the foundation of our every liberty. It must always be defended.’

The atrocity in Paris follows similar attacks over depictions of Muhammad in recent years, including the previous attack on Charlie Hebdo, riots caused by the film Innocence of Muslims in 2012, the 2004 assassination of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, and the Jyllands-Posten cartoons controversy in 2005.

BHA supporter Salman Rushdie, who in 1989 became the target of a fatwa for the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses, had this to say for the free expression organisation English PEN:

‘Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. “Respect for religion” has become a code phrase meaning “fear of religion.” Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.’

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) also released a revised version of the Happy Human logo, seen proudly brandishing the banner Je Suis Charlie, which was widely shared online and held up at rallies around the world last night in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo.

In that same spirit of solidarity, the BHA has republished some notable Charlie Hebdo cartoons. It does so below.

Charia Hebdo Charlie Hebdo Pope Francis Intouchables2 Murder attack at the magazine Chalrie Hebdo



The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

It stands in unity with people all over the world, of all backgrounds and beliefs, in their condemnation of these attacks.