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Commentary: Press freedom has its limits
January 13,2015   By:Xinhua

BEIJING, Jan. 13, 2015 -- Millions of people and dozens of world leaders marched together through Paris Sunday to show their solidarity after three separate terrorist attacks in the French capital that had killed 17 people.

Any killings or violence related to terrorism should be condemned and the perpetrators be brought to justice. However, it is high time for the Western world to review the root causes of terrorism, as well as the limitation of press freedom, to avoid more violence in the future.

An armed attack on a media organization is shocking, but it is not even the first time Charlie Hebdo has been the target of terrorist attacks.

The French satirical weekly has a controversial history in its treatment of Islam and Islamic culture, including the covers that led to the firebombing of its office and a lawsuit against it alleging blasphemy.

In reality, some of Charlie Hebdo's most offensive cartoons would not be published in most parts of the world. Few media would print a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad crouched on all fours with his genitals bared.

But the French weekly insisted on publishing this kind of caricature, which has pushed the freedom of expression to its limits, rather than making a satirical point.

The attacks against Charlie Hebdo should not be simplified as attacks on press freedom, for even the freedom itself has its limits, which does not include insulting, sneering or taunting other people's religions or beliefs.

The world is diversified and every religion and culture has its own core values.

It is important to show respect for the differences of other peoples' religious beliefs and cultures for the sake of peaceful coexistence in the world, rather than exercising unlimited, unprincipled satire, insult and press freedom without considering other peoples' feelings.


Even some Western media have criticized the French publication for its controversial principle.

"It is merely to say that some common sense would be useful at publication such as Charlie Hebdo, and Denmark's Jyllands-Posten, which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid," said the British daily Financial Times on Wednesday.

"Most of us do try to show a modicum of respect for people of different creeds and faiths. We do try to open conversations with listening rather than insult," New York Times Columnist David Brooks wrote on Thursday.

As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, people were not put on this planet to live in fear of their fellow human beings, and the watchwords of civilization have always been tolerance, understanding and mutual respect.

"The world will have less tragedies if everybody shows respect to others and set a limit to exercise his freedom," said the UN chief.

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