“Laws exist, rightly, to protect vulnerable people and minority groups from abuse. Comedy exists, essentially, as a means to be transgressive in a way that does not damage anyone. These are the waters cartoonists must navigate, and that’s tricky enough in a ‘liberal’ country. We’ll talk today about cartoonists who aren’t so lucky”. — Terry Anderson
On three successive weekends in April and May I had the opportunity to speak about CRNI and our work at some very different events around the UK. There were a few things I wanted to foreground every time, most importantly the plight of Atena Farghadani. Another was the notable hardening in the attitude of Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Laurent Sourisseau, who following March’s atrocity in Belgium suggested that a supposed politically correct anxiety over criticism of Islam in French society offers a toehold for extremism. Riss lost friends and colleagues in the January 2015 attack and is himself a survivor of a murder attempt. It is probably too much to expect a dispassionate view from him on the topic. However it is difficult to differentiate his point from those made by France’s Front National, the far right party that is usually Charlie Hebdo’s chief bugbear.