Don't Blame Muslims for Not Laughing at Our Cartoons, Editor Had Said

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Don't Blame Muslims for Not Laughing at Our Cartoons, Editor Had Said

People gather to pay respect to the victims of a terror attack against satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, on January 7. (Associated Press)

Paris:  The French newspaper Charlie Hebdo's staple is to be provocative - poking fun at popes, presidents as well as the Prophet Muhammad.

The satirical weekly attacked Wednesday by gunmen, killing at least 12, has a history of drawing outrage across the Muslim world with crude cartoons of Islam's holiest figure. Among those killed, according to French media, was Chief editor Stephane Charbonnier, who published under the pen name "Charb." (12 Killed in Shooting at French Paper's Paris office)

"Muhammad isn't sacred to me," he told The Associated Press in 2012. "I don't blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don't live under Quranic law." (Caught on Camera the Gunmen Escaping After Charlie Hebdo Attack)

The magazine's offices were firebombed in November 2011 after it published a spoof issue that "invited" Muhammad to be its guest editor and put his caricature on the cover.

A year later, the magazine published more Muhammad drawings amid an uproar over an anti-Muslim film. The cartoons depicted Muhammad naked and in demeaning or pornographic poses. As passions raged, the French government defended free speech even as it rebuked Charlie Hebdo for fanning tensions.

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The small-circulation weekly leans toward the left and takes pride in making acerbic commentary on world affairs through cartoons and spoof reports.

"We treat the news like journalists. Some use cameras, some use computers. For us, it's a paper and pencil," the Muhammad cartoonist, who goes by the name Luz, told The Associated Press in 2012. "A pencil is not a weapon. It's just a means of expression." (Charlie Hebdo Attacked in Past for Satirizing Prophet Mohammed)

Islam is not alone in being singled out by Charlie Hebdo's satire. Past covers include retired Pope Benedict XVI in amorous embrace with a Vatican guard; former French President Nicolas Sarkozy looking like a sick vampire; and an Orthodox Jew kissing a Nazi soldier. (Paris Attackers Shouted 'We Have Avenged the Prophet': Police)

The magazine occasionally publishes investigative journalism, taking aim at France's high and mighty.

Charlie Hebdo has come under pressure ever since its 2011 Muhammad issue. Its website has been hacked, and Charbonnier has needed police protection. Riot police guarded the magazine's offices after the 2012 issue hit the stands.



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