For the French, there is nothing funny about cartoons. This month’s gruesome beheading of a teacher in a suburb north of Paris, murdered after showing his students caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad that had previously been published in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, was a lesson in free speech gone horribly wrong. This came just a month after the opening of the trial of those accused of helping the two gunmen who killed 12 people in a terrorist attack at the magazine’s offices in 2015, in retaliation for the publication of those same cartoons.
To mark the start of the trial, Charlie Hebdo re-published them, and a few weeks later a man stabbed two people outside the magazine’s former offices; he later admitted he had wanted to set the building on fire, not knowing the magazine had moved to a different location. The French are closely watching the court case, and thousands have taken to the streets to protest the killing of the teacher.