The trial which is about to take place before the Paris Civil Court February on 7th and 8th is of the utmost importance. Charlie Hebdo is being prosecuted for having republished the twelve Danish cartoons on Mahomet that first appeared in the Jyllands-Posten.

In a context in which fundamentalists have been issuing death threats against anyone who dared support whatever news publications and whatever countries they have targeted, this newspaper has chosen to remain faithful to its tradition of freedom of expression and freedom of tone in regard to all religions and all their symbols: the pope as well as Mahomet.

It did so by making these twelve drawings available to the public at large, so that people could form their own opinion. So as not to yield to the demands of the fundamentalists.

As an act of solidarity with Jacques Lefranc, the editor-in-chief of France Soir, who had just been fired for having had the courage to refuse such demands. Because if all European news publications had done the same, the extremists' intimidations would have failed. Because if all European news publications had bowed to this injunction, their silence would have sealed the extremists' victory.

In spite of this climate, traditional Moslem organizations (the Paris Mosque), fundamentalist organizations (the UOIF : Union of Islamic Organizations of France) and even a major financial sponsor of Wahhabite extremism situated in Saudi Arabia (the Islamic League), chose to add a judicial threat to this intimidation by taking Charlie Hebdo to court, on the basis of anti-racist laws, for «public insult in regard to a group of persons by reason of their religion».

Two drawings are targeted: one showing Mahomet with a bomb in his turban, but also one in which Mahomet holds back a group of kamikazes by announcing: «Stop, there are no more virgins left.» The cover of the issue for which Cabu drew a picture of Mahomet who, «outdone by the fundamentalists», disavows them («It's tough to be loved by idiots») was also accused of being «injurious», whereas the purpose was to show a Mahomet who took exception to the extremists.

Which goes to show the sort of confusion encouraged by this accusation against a journal that has always fought against both racism and fundamentalism. We refuse the amalgam which - relying on an abusive use of the term «Islamophobia» - consists of equating legitimate criticism of Islamist extremism and of terrorism that makes use of Islamic symbols with racist attacks on individuals of the Muslim faith.

Some people say that today's geopolitical context should incite one to be prudent, even to keep silent. Quite the contrary. Freedom of expression and secularism need to be reasserted as never before. Those who resist fundamentalism have nothing but pen and pencil to counter threats. Democrats throughout the world, and in particular Moslem democrats, hope to find in Europe, and above all in France, a secular haven where neither dictatorship nor fundamentalism obstruct their freedom of speech.

If Charlie Hebdo were to be condemned, if self-censorship spread to become the standard legal precedent, we would all of us lose this common ground for resistance and liberty.

For these reasons, we support Charlie Hebdo and the right to keep on criticizing all religions without exception.