Former French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Charles Michel visited Monday morning “Hyphenation — Living together in press drawings,” an exhibition at the Karreveld Castle, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean. Opened on Saturday, it displays 80 drawings on the theme of living together and freedom of expression, selected by the “Cartooning for Peace Association,” and by youth from the cinema-photo workshop of the Maison des cultures, Molenbeek.
“I wanted to come back to Molenbeek to show that this district was also upholding values, principles and freedom,” François Hollande said after having mentioned the Paris attacks and the fact that some of the terrorists came from Molenbeek-Saint-Jean.
“It is indeed symbolic that we meet here two years afterwards. Our way to show that there is some hope, some light, and that though we must prove to be inflexible as far as Islamist terrorism is concerned, we must also bring a certain number of messages showing that the future can be different from the present.”
“Besides the necessary security measures, there stands above all the promotion of values: the freedom of expression, tolerance, the fact that one is free to believe or not to believe…” Charles Michel (MR) added.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Former French President François Holland and Molenbeek Mayor Françoise Schepman
After visiting the exhibition, the two men participated in a panel discussion with the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean Youth Council, Mayor Françoise Schepmans (MR) and the cartoonists Plantu, Kroll and Geluck.
Some young people asserted that they did not appreciate caricatures about religions. “Freedom of expression is a guarantee for living together,” François Holland replied. “If we start attacking the cartoonists’ liberty, it is your own which will soon be questioned.”
Françoise Schepmans underlined the importance of discussing disagreements respectfully. Anger with a cartoonist must not turn into violence, Charles Michel also insisted.