The Times

We need to consider how Charlie Hebdo came into being before discussing if it went too far, says Mihir Bose

Sir, The debate about whether Charlie Hebdo’s journalists went too far (letters, Jan 13) needs to consider how the magazine came into being. It got its present name after its predecessor, L’Hebdo Hara-Kiri, was banned by the French government in November 1970. This was because after the death of Charles de Gaulle in his village of Colombey, the magazine published a front cover which read: Ball Tragique A Colombey 1 Mort (Tragic Ball at Colombey, 1 Dead). After the ban the magazine renamed itself Charlie Hebdo, a title which was itself an impertinent reference to de Gaulle.

I am not for one moment arguing that Charlie Hebdo’s journalists should not have published what they did, but the ban on its previous incarnation reminds us that even in the land which gave us those wonderful ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, sometimes governments feel that journalists go too far.

Mihir Bose

London W6


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