A regional daily has defended its decision to publish an image of this week’s Charlie Hebdo front cover after a newsagent on its patch began selling the magazine.
The Newport-based South Wales Argus says it would have been “disingenuous” not to show the controversial picture accompanying its story due to its “news value”.
This week’s edition of the satirical French magazine, which lost eight of its staff in last week’s Paris terrorist attacks, features a cartoon of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
Depictions of Muhammad are considered offensive in the Islamic faith and while some UK news organisations including The Guardian have opted to publish the cover, others have not.
Explaining the decision in yesterday’s paper, deputy editor Nicole Garnon wrote: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly or without a great deal of thought and discussion.
“And its publication is not intended to cause gratuitous offence to any of our readers, particularly among the Muslim community, although we accept that it will be offensive to some people.
“We are aware of the many and heartfelt sensitivities surrounding the publication of this magazine. But we are printing the image on the basis of its news value.
“The image we are using was taken in a setting, a newspaper distributor’s warehouse, which illustrates the story it accompanies – that this magazine is going to be on sale in a Newport newsagents.”
The magazine will be stocked in Newport from this morning by newsagent Jon Powell.
The picture appears in the Argus and on its website with a caption apologising to readers who it may offend.
In a separate editorial on the issue of free speech, Argus editor Kevin Ward wrote: “To ban people from expressing their views just because we happen to find them disagreeable or offensive is the thin end of a particularly unpleasant wedge.
“Now more than ever, in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo, we have to defend the right to freedom of speech within the law.
“There are many views expressed on our website and our letters page with which I disagree. But that does not mean they should not be published.
“Voltaire’s view (though not an actual quote) – ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ – means more now than ever before.”