After the assassination of Samuel Paty, a teacher who presented his students with the cartoons of Muhammad published in "Charlie Hebdo", the lawyer Roland Perez takes stock of Europe 1: is there a crime of blasphemy in law French? 

After the shock wave throughout France and the world, sparked by the assassination of teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown caricatures of Muhammad to a class of college students, lawyer Roland Perez takes stock: the Does the offense of blasphemy exist in France? 

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Only insult and defamation continued

First of all, a little etymological reminder.

Originally, blasphemy meant speaking badly about someone, such as insulting them, or slandering them.

Then, the meaning evolved to concern only the insult of a religious fact.

We speak of an insult to divinity, religion or even an irreverence to what is considered sacred.Except in countries which adopt a state religion and where the law is framed by the precepts of this religion, the crime of blasphemy does not exist.

In France, it was the French Revolution that put an end to any offense of blasphemy, by establishing freedom of expression, a corollary of the freedoms of opinion and belief enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 


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Since 1905, there has been a separation of churches and state in France, which confirms the absence of criminalization of blasphemy: only insult and defamation against religious groups are punished.

Any citizen can therefore speak, write, print or draw freely except to answer for the abuse of this freedom.

These are then cases of defamation or insult against named persons or group of persons, but not against a religion.

Charlie Hebdo released twice

Moreover, in 2007, on the occasion of the publication in

Charlie Hebdo

of the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, initially published in a Danish newspaper, the satirical newspaper had been acquitted of the proceedings brought before the criminal court by the great mosque of Paris, the Union of Islamic Organizations of France and even the World Islamic League.

The newspaper was also sued for the cover, a drawing by Cabu which depicted the prophet saying "It's hard to be loved by idiots", in a reference to religious fundamentalists.

The charges had been brought for insulting a group of people on the basis of their religion.

And justice has, twice, released Charlie Hebdo by not retaining the offense of blasphemy, which does not exist in our legislation.