In February 1999 there was a big ultra-Orthodox Jewish demonstration against the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) people demonstrated against the court’s recent decisions, which they seemed to dislike. In a nearby park, a much smaller demonstration was spontaneously formed, of non-religious people who protested against this mass abuse of democracy. Two of them held a big sign that read “Daddy, why didn’t you protest when it was still allowed?” (from the book: ‘And Man Created God in His Own Image‘)
The series of terror attacks that recently shook France (as well as the whole civilized world) promoted the issue of “freedom of speech”. Satire, whether in the shape of text or cartoons, is one of the common forms of freedom of speech. In other words: The right of a person to believe in any nonsense he or she chooses – is accompanied by the right of the other person to criticize this belief.
While satire is a private case of freedom of speech, the latter is one of the fundamental values of democracy. No wonder the attack on Charlie Hebdo was rightfully perceived as an attack on the French democracy, which is the cornerstone of the modern French nation.
In darker places of our world, it is the very criticism that is perceived as an attack on the nation. Especially when a religion or the regime is criticized. ISIS and others will certainly not allow criticizing Muhammad’s habits.
And some words about this small country, Israel: Large sectors of the Jewish population regard this topic not too much different than extreme Islamists. While one can see nowadays some good examples of satire that criticizes religion, there are those who wouldn’t even agree to see a picture of a woman.
Officially Israel has this unclear law that prohibits offending the so-called “religious feelings” of the other. It’s a bad sign for things to come. Secular people have no feelings, you know.