"French Court Rules for Newspaper That Printed Muhammad Cartoons":

So reports the New York Times:

A French court ruled Thursday in favor of a satirical weekly newspaper that faced charges brought by two Muslim groups after it published cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad that had caused an international uproar when a Danish newspaper published most of them.

The charges, brought by the Paris Mosque and the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, accused the newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, and its editor, Philippe Val, of "publicly abusing a group of people because of their religion."

The charges could have resulted in a six-month prison term for Mr. Val and a fine of about $29,000 against the newspaper....

The court acknowledged that one of the cartoons, which depicted Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb, might offend some Muslims. But it said that, given the context of its publication, it saw no "deliberate intention of directly and gratuitously offending the Muslim community." ...

The Union of Islamic Organizations of France said it would appeal the decision....

My question, for those who know French law on this -- what if a court had concluded that the newspaper did deliberately intend to offend Muslims, perhaps because it thought Islam was an evil religion? Consider how quite a few people who think ill of Christianity do deliberately intend to offend Christians, and how quite a few people who think ill of Scientology deliberately intend to offend Scientologists, at least in the sense of knowing that their actions will offend and not caring, or perhaps even hoping that those who the speaker things adhere to an evil or foolish ideology will indeed be offended. Would the editor have then gone to jail, on the grounds that the offense was deliberate, direct, and gratuitous? Would the newspaper have been fined?

BChurch (mail):
"Gratuitous" seems to be the key word, although I don't know if it's directly from the law. Offending Muslims in the course of arguing that Muslim is an evil religion isn't exactly "gratuitous" in the sense that adding "Muslims are generally evil" to the end of an article on tax law, say, would be.
3.23.2007 6:21pm
Imagine if every car owner with a "Darwin" Fish symbol on the back of their car was deemed a criminal for desecrating a Christian symbol with the intention of directly and gratuitously offending the Christian community. (it doesn't say that anyone actually had to be offended.) Maybe those things aren't as common in France. The jails would be overflowing here.
3.23.2007 6:50pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“Consider how quite a few people who think ill of Christianity do deliberately intend to offend Christians, …”

Don’t you realize it’s ok to offend Christians, and that as a practical matter, Muslims don’t get charged with publicly abusing a religion? If you want examples read the book Londonistan. In the EU, the authorities are afraid of the Muslims. They are not afraid of Jews and Christians because they don’t resort to violence when offended or even physically attacked. Moreover EU governments like ours have been compromised by Arab oil money. There is a wave of Islamic violence in Europe that targets Jews and Christians.

However, recently in Utrecht an “inverted riot” did occur when non-immigrant Dutch reacted violently to the killing of an innocent Dutchman by a policewoman allegedly of Moroccan origin. The Dutch authorities, ever afraid of their Muslims, sealed off the neighborhood and blamed the riot on outsiders. They don’t take such repressive measures against Muslim violence always reported as “youth” hooliganism.
3.23.2007 8:29pm
Islam, Christianity, and Scientology?!
3.24.2007 2:10am
I am not a specialist (not being a jurist) but I believe the law that applies to such case is the famous "Loi Gayssot (1990)"

It's Art I goes like this (the original, than my translation)

Toute discrimination fondée sur l'appartenance ou la non-appartenance à une ethnie, une nation, une race ou une religion est interdite.
L'Etat assure le respect de ce principe dans le cadre des lois en vigueur.

"Any discrimination founded on adherence or non-adherence to an ethnic group, a nation, a race or a religion is forbidden. The State insures respect of this principle within the context of the laws in force."

If proven guilty, the magistrate's court may order that its decision be completely or partially published at the condemned person's fees. More importantly, he could be deprived of the following rights for a limited duration (up to 5 years):

- Egibility (éligibilité, whatever that means)...

- Being called or appointed or to serve as a member of a jury or to be sworn in any civil service [which require to be sworn in by the Republic].

Finally, accordingly to the article 416-1 of the French penal code, the sentenced person can be fined from 2000F to 20,000F (I don't know how much it truly represents today, as the Frank has been replaced by the Euro, but here is a wild guess: ~500$ to 5,000$) and have to serve from 2 months to 1 year in prison.

Again, I am not a specialist, so there is a chance I am mistaken on some points or others may have been mistaken. But I hope this is valuable and helpful information to you as a start.
3.24.2007 4:09am
Of course, you should have read "the original, then my translation" instead of "the original, than my translation"

In addition, the suggested sums for fines are the ones that appear in 1975's article 416 of the penal code. There is no indication it has been amended since (although there is an indication a portion of 1975's article 416 had been abrogated in 1990).
3.24.2007 4:19am
MnZ (mail):
All laws are prone to selective and uneven enforcement. However, vague laws that seek to ban ill-defined behavior are even more prone to selective and uneven enforcement.
3.24.2007 11:07am
Any discrimination founded on adherence or non-adherence to an ethnic group, a nation, a race or a religion is forbidden

So would Scientology be covered? I should think not, but then in this country the IRS buckled and treats Scientology as a "religion."
3.24.2007 12:41pm
martinned (mail) (www):

More information in Le Figaro, Le Monde, Libération and Libération again. None of these articles state explicitly the legal grounds of the ruling, however. After some googling (is that how it's spelt?) I found this source, which states that Charlie Hebdo was prosecuted for:

"«injure envers un groupe de personnes à raison de leur origine ou de leur appartenance ou de leur non-appartenance à une ethnie, une nation, une race ou une religion déterminée» (art. 48 de la loi de 1881)."

So not the Loi Gayssot. Instead, it seems they mean the Loi sur la liberté de la presse.
3.24.2007 1:35pm
martinned (mail) (www):
P.S. the actual text quoted isn't in the law, but article 48 seems to have been amended by a decree dated earlier this month, so I assume the quote refers to an earlier version.
3.24.2007 1:39pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“…but then in this country the IRS buckled and treats Scientology as a religion.”

Even worse than that, the IRS granted the so-called Church of Scientology tax benefits denied to other religions. Members can deduct the cost of courses provided by the Church to members. Others thought they do the same, but the IRS said no. See Sklar v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue No. 00-70753. Amazingly the Ninth Circuit upheld the IRS.
3.24.2007 1:46pm
Thanks, A. Zarkov. The first paragraph of Judge Silverman's concurrence is quite something. How did anything like this ever come to pass?
3.24.2007 10:36pm
JLS (mail):
Charlie-Hebdo is a far left newspaper.
For them every religion is evil.
It's very common for them to bash religion.
Especially Christian Religion, but Moslem and Jews too.
Anyway in France it's not rare to bash religion it's common.
3.26.2007 8:15am