Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief, Stephane Charbonnier, was among the 12 killed in a terrorist attack at the French weekly’s office in Paris on Wednesday.
The attack comes after the satirical magazine featured a new book by Michel Houellebecq that depicts the French government in 2022 as being run by Muslims.
Charlie Hebdo is not new to controversy. It has been attacked in the past for its satirical portrayal of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad.
The magazine was firebombed in November 2011 after featuring a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad on its cover saying “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.”
A year later, in September 2012, the French magazine incited more anger in the Muslim community by portraying the Prophet naked in cartoons. The reactions were so violent that the French government had to temporarily close some of its embassies and consular offices, Reuters reported.
Following the 2012 cartoon incident, Charbonnier spoke with Al Jazeera English to defend the publication’s decision.
He said the the newspaper had not breached French law and it was part of its freedom of speech.
Here is an excerpt from the interview (emphasis ours):
I have been in this newspaper for 20 years, it has been 20 years that we have been caught and caught of being provocative, it just so happens that every time we deal with radical Islam we have a problem and we get indignant violent reactions. […] But what surprises me is the reaction of French politicians: We are a country in the rule of law, we respect the French law. Our only limit is French law, it is that what we have to obey. We haven’t infringed the French law, we have the right to use our freedom, as we understand it.
You can watch the interview here:
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