Je suis Charlie.
Vous êtes Charlie.
Nous sommes tous Charlie.
When history happens around us, quite often it's unpleasant.
All of us were angered and appalled to learn of the attack on freedom of expression in Paris last Wednesday, in which 10 staff of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and two police officers were murdered by terrorists.
Much has been said, and we continue to urge everyone – humanists, religious people of all backgrounds, and people of every nation, culture, and creed – to come together in solidarity with the artists and writers of Charlie Hebdo, who died for their belief in our universal right of free expression. All of us bear a duty to protect that right, for it is without a doubt the cornerstone of each and every freedom we enjoy.
Charlie Hebdo published in the proud French tradition of equal opportunity satire. It reserved its most vicious criticism for France's far right, and for French politicians. It took seriously the cartoonist's duty to criticise, to satirise, to be irreverent.
But even your most hated publication, the worst of our 'rags', has a right to publish. No degree of offence taken can ever justify censorship by the state or the threat of violence.
And so it is in honour of the fallen at Charlie Hebdo that we stand with the European Humanist Federation (EHF) in calling once more, and passionately, for an end to Europe's blasphemy laws.
What society can claim to be serious about the right to free expression with blasphemy laws on the books? Countries which do this, which claim special legal significance for offence when it is felt by a religious person or a religious institution, share something in common with the Islamists who would murder in the name of their offence.
Whilst the EU has been correct to criticize the blasphemy laws in other countries such as Pakistan, where such laws are used to execute atheists and justify political persecution, there continues to be a discrepancy between the EU’s willingness to condemn blasphemy laws abroad and its unwillingness to criticize similar blasphemy laws within EU member states.
An alarming number of EU members
including Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, France (Alsace Moselle), Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia still have laws relating to blasphemy, or to the similar offence of ‘religious insult’. These laws are not just ancient, harmless laws however; they can produce very real attacks on the right to freedom of speech and expression
Later in the week, we'll be teaming up with the EHF and the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) to launch a new campaign on ending blasphemy laws in Europe. So please look out for any communications from us on this on social media, when we'll be asking you to take action in the wake of this terrible tragedy in Europe by writing to your MEP to call for an end to blasphemy laws
not just here, but right across Europe.