The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will no longer draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, editor Laurent Sourisseau said in an interview with the German magazine Stern, adding that his publication did what it set out to do.
The move came about six months after an attack on Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris killed 12 staff members. The mass shooting may have been sparked by the magazine’s controversial portrayal of Islam in general and the Prophet Muhammad in particular.
“We have drawn Muhammad to defend the principle that one can draw whatever they want,” Sourisseau said. “It is a bit strange, though: We are expected to exercise a freedom of expression that no one dares to … We’ve done our job. We have defended the right to caricature.”
Sourisseau, who goes by the cartoonist name Riss, owns 40 per cent of the magazine company’s shares. He said he did not want to believe the publication was “possessed by Islam.” He said, “The mistakes you could blame Islam for can be found in other religions.”
After the mass shooting Jan. 7, when two Islamist militants stormed the Charlie Hebdo office, people around the world took up the slogan “Je suis Charlie” in solidarity with the murdered staff members. The event sparked a global debate about freedom of speech and the press.
Charlie Hebdo’s first cover after the massacre featured a cartoon image of a sad Prophet Muhammad holding a sign that in English read, “All is forgiven.” It sold 8 million copies worldwide.
The cartoonist who drew the image, Renald Luzier, aka Luz, announced his departure from the magazine in May. He said he found it hard to produce each issue without the colleagues who were slain and that he was fatigued and overworked.
In April, Luzier told the French cultural magazine Les Inrockuptibles that drawing the Prophet Muhammad no longer interested him: “I’ve got tired of it, just as I got tired of drawing [France’s ex-President Nicolas] Sarkozy. I’m not going to spend my life drawing them.”
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