The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

French newspaper Le Monde will no longer publish photos of terror suspects

A makeshift memorial stands near the Saint Etienne church, where priest Jacques Hamel was killed. (Ian Langsdon/European Pressphoto Agency)

PARIS — In a summer of bloodshed and fear in France, one newspaper is digging in.

On Wednesday — a day after two apparent Islamic State-inspired attackers stormed a French village church and slit the throat of an 85-year-old priest — the major French newspaper Le Monde said it would no longer publish photographs of terrorist suspects. Jérôme Fenoglio, the editor in chief, called it a "first act of resistance" against Islamic State attempts to unleash civil unrest in France.

Titled “Resisting the strategy of hatred,” the op-ed by Fenoglio is a response to the steady beat of terrorist-linked violence that has rocked France and the rest of Europe. Just this month, a series of attacks have hit Germany, and France has faced attacks on opposite ends of the country — a Bastille Day truck rampage in Nice that killed at least 84 people and Tuesday's slaying in Normandy — by attackers thought to be radicalized by Islamic State propaganda.

Fenoglio’s main argument is not to accept the Islamic State’s attempt to foster a “civil war” in France, which is home to one of the largest and most deeply rooted Muslim communities in Western Europe.

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“Not giving in to that, ever, is the first act of resistance in a society such as ours, its honor and a first defeat inflicted on the enemy,” he wrote.

No longer, he added, will Le Monde publish photos of the attackers. “Following the Nice attack,” he wrote, “we will publish no more photographs of the authors of these killings, to avoid the effects of posthumous glorification."

It's unclear whether other media will follow suit. But Le Monde's decision speaks to wider debates among news professionals around the world over the line between essential reporting and inadvertently providing another forum for militant video and manifestoes posted online.

Last month, an Islamic State-inspired attacker murdered a police officer and his partner in their home outside Paris, streaming the entire gruesome episode on Facebook. This week, the Islamic State released a video of a pre-attack diatribe from the suspected suicide bomber who targeted a wine bar in the German city of Ansbach.

For Fenoglio, the media has an obligation to take that spotlight away.

“These reflections, these debates, these adaptations to the practices of an enemy that uses against us all the tools of our modernity are indispensable if we want to break the strategy of hatred without abandoning our convictions,” he wrote.