We all know the tragedy of 13 November 2015 — but how has this affected Charlie Hebdo’s take on cartoons in journalism? Gérard Biard, Editor-in-chief of the now world-renowned publication tells us of life after terrorism.
Do they feel unsafe?
“We are closely watched all over the world. We have many friends in Russia for example — we received a lot of death threats from Russia.”
Biard said that just one of his cartoonists chooses to draw under a fake name for security reasons. But with bodyguards silently assembled as Biard spoke at the GEN Summit in Vienna today it was apparent that significant measures have been taken to protect Charlie Hebdo personnel. In fact the French government provide him with a permanent security detail: a testament to the perceived value of liberté. For Biard, “the fact we are protected by the state means that democracy and freedom of speech is not quite dead.”
Will they change strategy?
Biard stands by his belief that “a cartoon must be shocking” to give content the attention it deserves. For Biard, “it’s a matter of freedom of speech — freedom of expression” that must continue to engage the world with what is happening around it. Speaking on behalf of Charlie Hebdo, Biard made the bold statement that they “do not regret anything.” Biard says that considerable thought is put into the stories published — they will not change a key ethos of the publication — to continue “fighting against racism, homophobia, anti-semitism.”
How do they react to criticism?
“We do not make racist cartoons — attacking people for what they are. We attack people for what they do”
Charlie Hebdo was accused of promoting racism and prejudice of the Islamic religion. Biard says that the criticism is born out of a misunderstanding of what Charlie Hebdo is actually about: “I don’t think they even knew us.” Noting that just seven of Charlie Hebdo’s 523 covers have been about Islam — and most are about French political affairs.