The right to mockery and caricature, even religion, is an integral part of being French, President Emmanuel Macron said at a naturalization ceremony on Friday, days after the start of a trial of the accused accomplices in an attack by Islamist gunmen on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo im Year 2015.
In the Paris Pantheon, a mausoleum of French heroes, Macron presented five new citizens with their French papers in a solemn ceremony on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Third Republic.
“At the start of the January 2015 trial, I say being French is defending the right to laugh, joke, ridicule and caricature that Voltaire claimed is the source of all other rights,” Macron said.
More than a dozen defendants were tried this week for their roles in the rampage in Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices, where 12 people died. This week the magazine published the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad that sparked the wrath of militant Islamists.
Macron welcomed five new citizens from the UK, Algeria, Cameroon, Peru and Lebanon and said immigrants have long been a driving force in France. The Third Republic was proclaimed from the Paris City Hall on September 4, 1870 by the son of an Italian immigrant, Leon Gambetta.
“Like you, he was the son of immigrants, French by mixed blood. It was he who revived the republic, this rule of freedom,” said Macron.
According to Macron, many other immigrants have shaped French history, including Polish-born scientist Marie Curie, American-born singer Josephine Baker, Tunisian-born feminist Gisele Alimi, and Felix Eboue, France’s first black colonial governor and first black man to his Ash deposited in the Pantheon.
“Now it is your turn to write your chapter in the Book of the Republic,” he said.
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