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In our recap 2015 series, we take a look at some of our major achievements during 2015.

OHPI started 2015 by publishing a major report “Je Suis Humain: Responsible free speech in the shadow of Charlie Hebdo murders”. The report, published on January 19, 2015, explored the different approaches to the line between freedom of speech and protection of human dignity, with respect to religion, in France and Australia. It also highlighted the antisemitic aspects of the terrorist attacks in France in January 2015 on the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, a police officer, and a kosher supermarket. Most of the discussions in the aftermath of the attack focussed on the free speech debate, without requisite attention being given to the antisemitic nature of the attacks.

Our report drew a distinction between criticism of a belief or philosophy, which must be permitted in a free society, and the promotion of hate against a people who follow that belief, a form of hate speech violating basic human rights. This was done both generally with respect to Islam, and in the context of cartoons of Mohammed.

The report contributed to a global discussion on issues of antisemitism, freedom of speech and expression, a free press, freedom from persecution, human dignity, bigotry, religion, blasphemy, self-censorship, and government censorship. It explored how social media enabled the public to come together, to mourn, and to debate the placement of the often fine line between freedom of expression and respect for human dignity. OHPI’s suggestion was that speech attacking a person or group’s identity, and impacting on the public good of a socially cohesive society, should be unlawful but that comments on a matter of public interest should be exempt from censorship provided they are made reasonably and in good faith. Copies of the report were distributed at the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism.

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A research paper in part based on the report was published by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Centre as part of their working paper series and received additional attention from scholars and other experts.

The report, its distribution at the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism, and the publication of the working paper, all advanced OHPI’s goal of promoting the prevention of abuse and better control of abusive behaviour through education, research, and by stimulating debate on online hate, the prevention of online hate, and on the link between online hate and emotional and physical abuse.

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