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IFJ condemns violent attack against satirical weekly

(IFJ/IFEX) - 2 November 2011 - The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the violent and criminal attack against the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo after its offices were burned down last night in a suspected arsonist attack.

"Any violent and criminal attack against media and journalists is a direct attack on freedom of the press. We strongly condemn this act," said EFJ Chair Arne König. "There are laws and courts for those who need them. Any other method is dangerous and unacceptable because it creates a climate of fear and self-censorship within the profession."

The offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were almost completely destroyed on Wednesday morning by a criminal fire which was caused by a "molotov cocktail", according to police sources. The attack happened on the day the magazine published a special edition called "Sharia Weekly" to "celebrate the victory" of the Islamist party Ennahda in Tunisia. Its cover features a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed who was also named the "editor-in-chief" for the issue.

The EFJ recalls the long-running French tradition of tolerance for free speech, citing famous words attributed to Voltaire that "Even if I do not agree with what you say, I will fight for your right to say it," and also refers to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights which consistently held that "the journalistic freedom also covers possible recourse to a degree of exaggeration or even provocation."

The EFJ calls on the competent French authorities to quickly find the culprits of this attack and bring them to justice.

EFJ members in France are the Syndicat national des journalistes (SNJ), the Syndicat national des journalistes SNJ-CGT and the USJ-CFDT.

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