Publish And Be Damned




Dr Ali Selim (above) and ‘Charlie Hebdo’ (top)

Dr Ali Selim, of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland has threatened  legal action against any Irish media outlet which chooses to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed which had been published by Charlie Hebdo.

Eoin O’Dell, an Associate Professor in Trinity’s Law School, writes:

Under section 36 [of  the Defamation Act, 2009], there are three main issues to be considered. First, it would be necessary to establish that the publication of the cartoons is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by Islam. Since many Muslims believe that visual depictions of the Prophet should be prohibited, satirical cartoons of the Prophet are very likely to meet that standard.

Second, it would be necessary to establish that the publisher “intends” to cause outrage among a substantial number of Muslims. This would be hard to establish where the intention behind the publication is to illustrate a major news item.

Third, even if that is established, it is a defence for the publisher to prove that “a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value” in the publication, a rubric which would be easily satisfied by a major news story.

Finally, even if the terms of the offence are made out, the question would arise as to how the offence could be prosecuted. Dr Selim might make a complaint to the Gardaí and, even if they investigate, it would be a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) whether to prosecute or not. And although, at common law, any individual has the right to initiate a private criminal prosecution, the DPP can decide to discontinue it.

That there is some superficial plausibility to Dr Selim’s misconceived claim demonstrates just how unwise the blasphemy provisions of section 36 the Defamation Act, 2009 actually are. A referendum to remove the reference to blasphemy from the Constitution is promised for this year. If it succeeds, section 36 should be immediately repealed. Thereafter, we should be able to discuss and debate issues of faith and politics, rather than seek to have the law come down on one side or the other of such intractable issues. That is what democracy is all about. And, in that way, we honour the memories of those who died in the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Any Attempt to Prosecute Irish Publication of Charlie Hebdo Mohammed Cartoons is Doomed to Fail ( Eoin O’Dell, The University Times)

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121 thoughts on “Publish And Be Damned

  1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

    “That there is some superficial plausibility to Dr Selim’s misconceived claim demonstrates just how unwise the blasphemy provisions of section 36 the Defamation Act, 2009 actually are.”

    Exactly. In this case, the law is an ass. As is Dr Selim.

    1. scottser

      it’s going to be funny watching people defend the indefensible. since when has being offended by a cartoon become more justifiable than murder?

    2. ABM

      Go on… I dare ye.

      If you attacked Islam (a minority religion in Ireland) even half as much as you attack Catholicism (the country’s major religion) – relentlessly, on a daily basis – you’d be 6 feet under by now.

      It’s time for Western civilisation to stand up to these terrorists. We need to focus our energy, not on the petty failures of our own Christian culture, but in confronting these Muslim nutters head-on.

      Western civilisation is the greatest culture the world has ever known – a culture that’s rooted in Christianity that all Irish people have inherited. We ought to cherish it; not abandon where we came from.

      1. Manta Rae

        Praise be! Hipsters and holy nutters are at long last united against brown-coloured people from a foreign land who practise a heathen religion…Praise the lord and pass the ammunition…

      2. scottser

        We need to focus our energy, not on the petty failures of our own Christian culture, but in confronting these Muslim nutters head-on.

        that’s very ‘christian’ of you abm. keep up the hypocrisy lad :)

      3. realPolithicks

        Hopefully he can get elected to the Senate and sit with his fellow religious extremist Ronan Mullen.

      4. Elena

        ABM you are right, it is time to stand up to these religious nutcases. It’s time to stand up to ALL religious nutcases, including you.

      5. Sam

        We need to focus our energy, not on the petty failures of our own Christian culture, but in confronting these Muslim nutters head-on.

        Policies that killed 500,000 Iraqi kids under the age of 5 … petty failures ?
        Child abuse, sectarian warfare, supporting fascists, pogroms and anti semiticism leading to a holocaust … petty failures ?

        Pull the beam out of your own arse eye first amigo…

      6. ConcernedIrishCitizen

        I’m not a lawyer but surely if the Defamation Act is being used, then the person who is defamed i.e Mohammed, and not anyone else, has to be the one launching the legal case!!??

        This is the reason we need to get rid of those idiotic Blasphemy Laws – religion has no place in an inclusive society.

        I agree that we have to meet these extremist nuts head on – if we don’t, the next thing you will face is the abolition of the Irish breakfast!!! think I’m joking? check the story of the Englishman who was ordered to remove pig ornaments from his window because Muslim neighbours were offended!

        1. Spielberger

          Ya if the charge is defamation locus standi is with the person defamed but blasphemy is something very different, just shnaked into the defamation act.

  2. fluffybiscuits

    This law is completely ridiculous. The Life of Brian is perfect example of satire that is funny, that challenges the established ideas of religion. Dr Selims point is fairly pointless, any case is likely to fall flat on its face and rightly so.

      1. jeremy kyle

        It’s like if I went to another country and the loudest representative of “my people” was Ronan Mullen. Morto.

  3. ex pat

    Publish and be damned. If someone wants to take a high profile case to the High Court then they risk costs being split and the publication will get TV coverage worth far in excess of costs awarded against them for months. I welcome Ireland’s multi-cultural diversity and taking the case of the Neuro-surgeon whose family were brutally murdered in the Leicester arson case many Muslims clearly plat a key role in this society.

    This however is a freedom of speech issue.

  4. Stephen Murray

    The chap is clearly saying these things to keep the waves of his massive ego trip growing.

  5. bisted

    …the current blasphemy law was introduced in 2009 by Dermot Ahern specifically to address concerns by Jewish and Muslim lobbies.

    1. Kieran NYC

      I thought it was because the constitution said we had to have one, and the laws we had only covered Catholicism? And so he had to make all religions equal under the law until the constitution could be amended…

  6. Kolmo

    An illiterate merchant who lived 1400 years ago who slept in a cave, told everyone he was visited by an apparition of an angel called Gabriel, ascended to heaven on a flying horse, no less, is offended, is he? Does someone today have a direct connection to the thoughts of someone who lived 1400 years ago on the Red Sea coast of present day Saudi Arabia?

    No. Nobody does.

    All religion is man-made – every. last. one. None are special. None are exempt from ridicule. None.

    The barbaric mutilation of children’s genitalia in the name of religion has a logical and linear progression – that is bombing and shooting in the name of religion – both are seen as virtuous and dutiful acts. How is that not open to ridicule?

    1. Starina

      FGM predates Islam, just to clarify. It’s a cultural practice, not a religious one — it just so happens that Islam has become the predominant religion in regions that practice FGM.

        1. Kolmo

          No, I was referring to all, male and female infibulation – both are equally barbaric if done for solely religious/cultural tradition reasons.

  7. JimmytheHead

    Sad, some pathetic attention seeker using this atrocity to further his own career. I hope he seeks to prosecute and is blasted out of the air by our all new and improved *super-constitution

    *Constitution may not be super or indeed change anything anywhere ever

  8. LeScull

    He condemns the attacks but, like all “moderate” muslims condones the idealogy that lead to them. Shameless.

      1. scottser

        this is the dude who wants us to build separate gym facilities for muslim schoolgirls, isn’t it?

    1. Sidewinder

      B*ll*cks. That man is no moderate. He’s no representative of all Muslims any more than ABM is representative of all Catholics.

  9. Eamonn Clancy

    It’s a religion incompatable with our society. That’s a fact. We can no longer ignore how it views women.

    1. Sidewinder

      Yeah, Catholicism’s treatment of women is impeccable. And before you go on about “that was *ages* ago” I suggest you look up current Catholic church treatment of women in countries that aren’t in the first world.

      1. Easy Tiger

        And has rightly suffered all sorts of criticism and ridicule because of it. People are not afraid to do so because of threats of violence made against them.

        1. Sidewinder

          Yeah instead it’s threats of sacking, shaming, excommunication – and for people of faith that’s being threatened with hell. Pretty serious threat for those who believe.

    2. Jess

      We should equally point out that every religion, with the exception of probably the odd fringe movement, treats women as unequal. Christianity, judaism, buddhism etc all have separate rules for men and women. Absolutely nothing short of secular feminism aims for equality between the sexes.

      It should also be noted that Islam is not all Saudi Arabia or ISIS. The Most populous muslim country has had a woman president as had more traditional ones like Pakistan.

      1. Paolo

        Feminism does not aim for equality between the sexes. You cannot speak for all feminists because no two feminists believe the same thing.

  10. Manta Rae

    The so-called cartoon is racist. I’m not a Muslim but am offended by it. Je ne suis pas Charlie.

          1. Don Pidgeoni

            The racists don’t get that though do they? Make em brown and whack a turban on it, amirite, amirite?!

    1. Jess

      I’m always intrigued by people who use the words ‘so called’. I mean it IS a cartoon, what could possible make you think that it isn’t??

      1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

        It would sound even more wanky and incorrect to say “soi disant”, so I think they should misuse that instead.

      2. squiggleyjoop

        It reminds me of David Brent getting annoyed with Tim in the office and using air quotes around his name when he says it.

    2. JimmytheHead

      Steve Irwin was killed by a sting ray, a close relation of the manta ray. I find your username offensive so change it immediately or i’ll do absolutely nothing

  11. Manta Rae

    You are correct, Islam is not a race. It is a religion practised by 1.6 billion people of all shades and colours worldwide, But the caricature of Muhammed is racist and, as such, is offensive. And it’s offensive not only to people of Arabic origin but to anyone who finds racism disgusting.

          1. JustMe

            Using a comma after ‘and’ is quite acceptable, e.g., Without the Oxford comma, the sentence above could be interpreted as stating that you love your parents, and your parents are Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty. Here’s the same sentence with the Oxford comma:

            I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty


    1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

      Offence. That bloody word. Who can calibrate it? I don’t find it offensive. I wouldn’t find a p*ss-take of the Pope/Jesus offensive. It’s a bloody cartoon.

    2. LeScull

      What do you find racist about it exactly that would drive you to be so offended on their behalf?
      Is is the depiction of the beard, clothing or skin tone of a man from, what is now Saudi arabia, in the 7th century?
      What would you find acceptable?

    3. religion sucks

      the cartoon is making fun of a religion, the same way it made fun of Catholicism and Judaism. are you trying to excuse the violence committed because it may be deemed offensive? are you insane?

      1. Manta Rae

        Where on earth did I try to excuse any sort violence? This is something you seem to have imagined and while a healthy imagination can be a good thing, it can cause all sorts of problems such as delusional behaviour.. Maybe you’re suffering mental health problems and perhaps you should go to your GP…

          1. Kieran NYC

            LeScull is letting you know that he strongly disagrees with you. He is not hurting or killing you or stopping you from expressing yourself. That is the difference.

            You are free to be a tw@t and he is free to disagree.

      2. LeScull

        I’d like to think the offence taken by this person, the baseless accusations of racism and the use of the phrase Je ne suis pas Charlie; a particularly disgraceful thing to say, are just all ill though out mistakes.

    4. Sidewinder

      Surely all their cartoons are racist? They do stereotypical caricatures of everyone in every country of every religion, in which case does that make it non/less racist? I honestly don’t know.

  12. Brian S

    1- get “Dr” selims email address
    2-teach him that we have freedom of speech by all sending him many many cartoons of anything we like (muhammad included)

    1. bisted

      ….actually we don’t have freedom of expression here….we have a blasphemy law enshrined in the Constitution that is the envy of every religious nutjob worldwide.

      1. Brian S

        Exactly why we should ignore the pathetic ridiculous law in the hopes that some nut job like “Dr” selim tries to take a case against everyone who published the cartoon thus embarrassing and ruining himself financially!

      2. Cark

        A very striking thought in the aftermath of all this. An Irish magazine would have faced legal action if any such cartoons were printed.
        I hope this brings the spotlight onto that infuriating law and it is repealed.

  13. Formerly known as

    Killing cartoonists, while there are foreign military forces killing fellow Muslims, doesn’t make a lot of sense.

      1. Paolo

        It will help by showing that freedom of speech will not be stopped by religious extremists.

        How would it help to gag our press and prevent people from drawing cartoons of a mythical character who died over 1300 years ago?

  14. Parochial Central

    If this was any other country, any other professional, I’d have sympathy for the cause of freedom of speech. But here we have a bunch of white, arrogant French journalists who set out to deliberately provoke a reaction. They got it. France is a racist country.

    None of these jounralists were moslems, who what exactly were they challenging with their little ditties? Nothing. They wanted to shir the shit. Want to do something about ISIS? Put down the pen and paper, leave the dinner party wine unfinished, and fupp off and join the army.

    Sure, freedom to offend must be protected? Sure, unless it’s the freedom to offend the same-sex marriage brigade.

    Get over it.


    1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

      Be that as it may, the correct response to people trying to stir the sh*t is to ignore them, not to murder them. Joining the army and killing the proponents of ISIS won’t get rid of their dogma.
      Their complete lack of tolerance for anything other than their brand of Islam has to be debunked in other ways. Not that I know how to do it, but slamming those journalists as racists for doing what they did seems wrong to me.

    2. Cinquecento

      Ahmed Merabet was killed in the attack on CH’s offices. He was muslim.

      And CH caricatured, mocked and satirised all religions, continuing a long tradition of caricaturing, mocking and satirising religion established in France since the Revolution.

  15. RichieRich

    Section 36 of the Defamation Act 2009:

    (4) In this section “ religion ” does not include an organisation or cult—

    (b) that employs oppressive psychological manipulation—

    (i) of its followers, or

    (ii) for the purpose of gaining new followers.

    Sounds like all religions to me!

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