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Australia Can't Print Charlie Hebdo Due To Free Speech Restrictions.

Australian Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson points to restrictions under section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act as the reason why the country could not print the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

The cartoon is now the symbol of western liberties following last week's Paris Massacre by three extremists aligned with the al-Qaeda and Islamic State that resulted in the death of 12 employees.


He explained that actually a lot of the religious-themed cartoon, like those of the depiction of Prophet Muhammad that angered Muslims and caused the carnage, aren't under the ambit of section 18c, Charlie Hebdo's racial stereotyping of Jews and other ethnic groups have too many legal issues for an Australian publication.

Wilson continued, quoted by The Australian, "18c only covers issues of race and ethnic origin, which could cover some of the materials but not all of it. It would cover Jews and ethnic representations, but it wouldn't cover Muslims and other bits. In the end, the legal problems would essentially ensure it would be shut down."

The law permits prosecution of people who have and espouse view that "offend, insult and humiliate on racial and ethnic grounds. One example is the 2011 lawsuit against conservative columnist Andrew Bolt for his comment that light-skinned Aborigines are not genuine Aboriginal people.

As a result of the Paris Massacre, two Liberal MPs sought the revival of proposal to amend Section 18 which the Abbott government initiated in 2014 but eventually dropped because of negative public reaction in a bid for the Muslim community to be a part of Team Australia.

On Monday, West Australian Senator Dean Smith, who the parliamentary joint committee on human rights, dared PM Tony Abbott and Opposition leader Bill Shorten to support a private senator's bill that proposes an overhaul of 18c treading a middle pathway.

Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss has insisted discussions on 18c are off the table, while Shorten pointed out, "You don't give the green light to hate speech when in fact it's a hate which is what we're all united against."

Legal experts also believe that Aussies aren't as appreciative of satirical cartoons as other westerners are.

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Jan 12, 2015
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