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France29 September 2006

Threats against Le Figaro op-ed author - “Ideological censorship must not replace debate”

The death threats against French philosophy teacher Robert Redeker since he wrote an op-ed piece entitled “What the free world should do in the face of Islamist intimidation” for the 19 September issue of Le Figaro, and the bans on the distribution of that issue imposed by Egypt and Tunisia were condemned today by Reporters Without Borders. Aged 52, Redeker has had to stop teaching and is being protected by the police.

“These violent reactions are disturbing signs of a desire to silence any debate about Islam,” the press freedom organisation said. “It is unacceptable that threats and censorship are increasingly replacing debate and controversy. It is in the nature of an op-ed piece to try to create an impact and it is understandable that Redeker’s comments shocked some people. But Le Figaro’s decision to publish was strictly a matter of editorial judgment.”

Reporters Without Borders continued: “The debate should have been conducted in the media. If Le Figaro had decided not to published this op-ed piece, as a misguided precautionary measure like the one taken in Berlin to withdraw the production of Mozart’s opera ‘Idomeneo,’ it would have been a defeat for freedom of thought.”

The organisation added: “The reactions to Redeker’s op-ed piece have unfortunately proved him to be right when he spoke of the dangers of ‘ideological surveillance’ that must be resisted.”

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