Last week, French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was seen as daring after it planned a big reprint of the spoof issue “guest edited” by the prophet Muhammad that had led to the firebombing of its offices.
The paper's editor defended the decision by saying that after being firebombed, “Freedom to have a good laugh is as important as freedom of speech.”
In the background of the cartoon, signed by cartoonist Luz, are the remains of the burnt magazine's offices. While the Muslim man kissing in the cartoon is likely not meant to represent Muhammed, the image (see it here) is still sure to raise a few eyebrows.
After the firebombing last week, some Muslim leaders came out in support of the publication, including Dalil Boubakeur, head of the Paris Mosque, who told journalists: “I am extremely attached to the freedom of the press, even if the press is not always tender with Muslims, Islam or the Paris Mosque.”
The media had a mixed response on whether the paper should have published the picture. A Time journalist said Charlie Hebdo was being unnecessarily combative, while Washington Times said this is what free speech “is all about.” French journalist Pierre Laski said the whole incident showed how polarized French attitudes about Islam are.
The Guardian maintained that whether Charlie Hebdo had been right in publishing the cartoon or not, it was “entirely consistent with [the paper’s] historic raison d'etre” — the paper has always been incendiary.
Charlie Hebdo’s site was also taken down by hackers Wednesday, but the magazine has begun blogging here.