The Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015 reinvigorated global debates about freedom of speech and violence. The overwhelming response to the attacks was to defend freedom of speech, witnessed prominently in the ‘Je suis Charlie’ slogan that dominated social media and new reports.
In this MFU session, we explore some of the dynamics of this event and the ensuing debates and discourses that came to define it, in an effort to go beyond mainstream responses.
When we talk about freedom of speech, what do we mean? How do we defend it and is freedom of speech really ‘free’? In order to explore some of these questions, we will discuss the importance of context, identity and representation. Were the Charlie Hebdo attacks different to others elsewhere, such as in Denmark? What is the domestic and historical context? How does the connection between violent extremism and ideas of identity and belonging work? And how are representations such as cartoons and satirical images used for political purposes?