Following the terrorist attacks in Paris in January 2015, which targeted journalists and cartoonists from Charlie Hebdo, policemen and Jewish people, Europe must continue to show that it is not afraid and “keep using humour and satire”, declared the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) after an urgent debate at the plenary session in Strasbourg.
The attacks, which were based on hatred, “were attacks against the very values of democracy and freedom in general”, said the parliamentarians, pointing out that, in line with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the use of satire, including irreverent satire, and ideas that offend, including criticism of religion, are protected as part of freedom of expression, provided it does not amount to hate speech or incitement to violence.
The resolution adopted by PACE, on the basis of the report by Jacques Legendre (France, EPP/CD), emphasises the “urgent need for a common, international but also specifically European response” to the jihadist threat. On the subject of security responses, the Assembly warned against indiscriminate mass surveillance, saying that it had “proven to be ineffective for the prevention of terrorism” and “dangerous for the respect of human rights”. The Assembly did, however, recommend increased co-operation between intelligence services from different European countries and also with countries in the Middle East.
Any security responses, however, must be accompanied by preventive measures in prisons, on social networks, in schools and in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in order to eradicate the root causes of radicalisation, according to the adopted text. Secularism, i.e. the principle of the separation of State and religion, must also be protected.