Four Responses to Charlie Hebdo’s Religious Redicule

A satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, made fun of various religions, including Muslims and Catholics by using cartoons that used satirical comedy to ridicule such religions. Some of the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo were the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.  These cartoons showed Prophet Muhammad in homosexual postures. These pornographic religious hate speech were not received well by religious leaders and followers. The editor of Charlie Hebdo was trying to exercise his rights of free speech as provided by the laws of the country, but religious organizations have condemned the act, terming it as an infringement of their religious rights. The artists behind the satirical cartoons were killed alongside some editors and bystanders at the Charlie Hebdo’s producing house in Paris, France. The questions that arise from this religious ridicule are: do ridiculers have a right to make fun of religious beliefs? Do these acts deserve forgiveness? Is it the best way to exercise free speech? Four articles have been written on this issue. Reading through the articles, one will notice that the authors have different arguments. The authors agree on the facts but their differences are based on values.

Zagano, Phyllis. The Misanthropes, National Catholic Reporter

The first article, “The Misanthropes” by Phyllis Zagano, considers religious ridicule as emotional violence. The author uses anti-catholic cartoons produced by Jack Chick to explain how mockery against Catholic beliefs has become imminent in the society. Chick has produced over 70 million tracts attacking Catholic beliefs. Zagano poses the question, “Can Chick say what he wants?” He opposes mockery and satire against Catholics and observes that anti-blasphemy laws are no longer followed in some Western countries, including USA, except when they involve hate speech. Zagano argues that satire against political and religious leaders may be accepted, but defaming or mocking religious sacred and beliefs is totally unacceptable.

Younus, Faheem. Just because you can ridicule Prophet Muhammad doesn’t mean you should

Secondly, Faheem Younus, in his article, “Just because you can ridicule Prophet Muhammad doesn’t mean you should”, uses his experience helping patients to explain how religious ridicule or satire as an unacceptable practice among religious people. In his analogy, the author explains that each patient has a tender spot where he or she does not want anyone to touch. Similarly, Prophet Muhammad is the tender spot for Muslims. Therefore, when satirical cartoons of Prophet Muhammad were published, the Muslims’ tender spot was touched. According to Younus, Muslims in USA are vulnerable like patients because everyone looks at them with suspicion following the ridicule of the Prophet. A simple message from the author is for responsible Americans not to be rough on Muslims.

West, Ed. “Sometimes there is a moral duty to mock religion”

Thirdly, Ed West wrote an article titled “Sometimes there is a moral duty to mock religion”, in which he supported religious mockery as a way of exercising free speech. This article argues that Charlie Hebdo mocked all religions, which is acceptable in the world of free speech. This article asks the question, “Should Christians harm those who mock their religion the way Muslims do?” The author says that forgiveness is the fundamental teaching of Catholicism. Therefore, Catholics should not support the killing of comedians who mocked the Muslim religion. He also argues that mockery should be used to make fun of those who are in power and influence them to behave rightfully. According to this article, mocking Muslims was a heroic act. The article also contended that the killing of the editors and artists of Charlie Hebdo was unacceptable because no one was forced to buy the newspaper.

The Editorial Board. “Paris slaughter can’t silence free expression: Our view”, USA Today

The fourth article, “Paris slaughter can’t silence free expression: Our view” by The Editorial Board of USA Today, holds that Charlie Hebdo’s satirical speech on religion should be protected. This article suggests that those who were killed at the Paris Weekly Charlie Hebdo are martyrs who chose to exercise their right to free expression regardless of the threats they received from Muslims. USA Today suggests that political and religious satire is a form of speech that is extremely difficult to defend because it aims to offend. The editorial argues that mockery, whether political or religious, is a form of speech that needs to be protected.


These four articles have provided different perspectives on religious mockery or satire. The production of Cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in the Charlie Hebdo and the killing of its artists and editors sparked a lot of debate. The main arguments were based on whether mockery was a form of free speech that needed to be respected and protected, or whether it was right for the religious mockers and satirists to be punished. These articles differ in terms of values. The first two articles supported the fact that religious sacred beliefs should be protected while the second two articles argued that mockery is a form of free speech that should be protected.



The Editorial Board. “Paris slaughter can’t silence free expression: Our view”, USA Today, 8 Jan 2015, retrieved Jan 26, 2015 from   freedom-of-expression-editorials-debates/21417099/.

West, Ed. “Sometimes there is a moral duty to mock religion”. Catholic Herald, 8 Jan 2015, Web.

Younus, Faheem. Just because you can ridicule Prophet Muhammad doesn’t mean you should, The Baltimore Sun, 12 Jan, 2015 Web, retrieved from

Zagano, Phyllis. The Misanthropes, National Catholic Reporter, 14 Jan 2015, Web, retrievedbfrom

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