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Cartoons, Comics and Human Rights after the Charlie-Hebdo Massacre

In: Religion & Human Rights
Author:
David Keane Middlesex University London UK

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This short comment assesses the situation of cartoons, comics and human rights after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. It engages questions on the meaning and history of cartoons, as well as freedom of expression, to find a new pathway beyond the parameters of the current debate. In particular, it asks why the protection of freedom of expression on Europe became contingent on drawing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. Rather than assigning a role for law in preventing such cartoons, or for freedom of expression in protecting them, it argues that desisting from drawing them would have no discernible impact. It highlights other means by which cartoons and comics can advance the human rights discourse, including pioneering comics authors in this regard. In conclusion it argues for an end to the largely dysfunctional terms of the debate and envisages a more progressive horizon.

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