This just in: Philippe Val, editor-in-chief of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, who published the notorious Muhammed cartoons from Danish daily Jyllands-Posten – along with a number of others, produced for the occasion – in February of last year, has just been acquitted of any wrongdoing by the Parisian Correctional Court. The court stated that the most infamous of the cartoons, the one showing the Prophet with a bomb in his turban, seen on its own is an offensive image, but that it needed to be judged in the context in which it appeared, and that the publication as such is protected by the freedom of the press. Val could, if convicted, have faced up to six months in prison and fines of up to â‚¬22.500. Of the plaintiffs, the French Union of Islamic Organisations (UOIF), the International Islamic League and the Great Mosque of Paris (GMP), the former have announced that they are appealing the ruling.
Whatever happens, this is a welcome vindication of Val’s decision to print the cartoons as a manifestation of the principles of the free press and of with the Danish cartoonists and editors involved after the shit hit the fan around the world in late January 2006. Whatever one may think about the original commission and publication of the cartoons by Jyllands-Posten, a ruling against them would be a grave matter indeed.