Hartmut Wessler, Eike Mark Rinke, Charlotte Löb
Should we be Charlie? A deliberative take on religion and secularism in mediated public spheres

Journal of Communication, 2016: 66, Heft 2, S. 314-327
ISSN: 0021-9916 (print); 1460-2466 (online)

The terror attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 serves to explore the role of religion and secularism in mediated public spheres. We argue that deliberative theory, including its recent criticisms and extensions, helps navigate normative dilemmas presented by the attacks. From a deliberative perspective, journalists should reprint Charlie cartoons that are perceived by Muslims as insulting and incendiary only if this fulfills a real need for public reflection and enlightenment. Media and the wider public should engage in differentiated solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, help transfer the hidden argumentative potential of its cartoons into the realm of truly argumentative discourse, and engage in metadeliberation that explicitly reflects the contexts and rules for public debate.