As all atheists know, blasphemy is a victimless crime (it’s a joke, people!), but tell that to the hopping mad French Muslims who are suing the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo over this cover, which reads: “The Qur’an is crap; it doesn’t stop bullets.”
The website of the National Secular Society explains:
Taking advantage of the existence of the crime of “blasphemy” uniquely available in the Alsace-Moselle region — it no longer exists in the rest of French common law — The League of Judicial Defence of Muslims (LDJM), led by the former lawyer Karim Achoui, has brought the case against Charlie Hebdo to the Criminal Court in Alsace-Moselle’s capital, Strasbourg. The hearing is set for 7 April.
Alsace-Moselle was annexed by Germany in 1871 and 1940-45 and retained part of the old German code when it returned to France.
If it seems like a desperate move by the plaintiffs, that’s because it is.
In the rest of France the crime of blasphemy has not existed since the Revolution. It was removed from the French law by Articles 10 and 11 of the Declaration of Human Rights and the Citizen of 1789, before being reinstated under the Restoration and again permanently deleted by the law of 29 July 1881 on freedom of the press. From the point of view of French common law, a caricature, even one perceived as ‘disrespectful’, cannot be blasphemous.
And if there’s any question on whether these people are hellbent on turning back the clock, consider that the last case brought under the Alsace law occurred in 1918.
Because of its multiple covers and cartoons mocking Islamic extremism, Charlie Hebdo has long been a thorn in French Muslims’ side. In the fall of 2011, its office in Paris was firebombed after a special “Sharia Hebdo” edition came out that listed the prophet Mohammed as the editor-in-chief. The publication’s computer system has also been hacked repeatedly by Muslim vandals.