The French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, darling of the media since the unfortunate attack on its offices in Paris, continues to offend.
In Charlie Hebdo‘s latest issue featuring the Prophet Mohammed, which has already sold five million copies, the editors mocked Pope Francis in an editorial. According to the Catholic Herald, the editorial in the new edition makes reference to protests by Femen, a radical feminist group that recently staged a topless protest in Notre Dame cathedral. The editorial said,
“What made us laugh the most is that the bells of Notre Dame rang in our honor. We would like to send a message to Pope Francis, who, too, was ‘Charlie’ this week: we only accept the bells of Notre Dame ringing in our honor when it is Femen who make them tinkle.”
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For his part, Pope Francis has been much kinder in his approach toward the satirists.
On his flight today from Sri Lanka to the Philippines, Pope Francis spoke about the Paris terror attacks. Speaking with journalists, he defended free speech as a fundamental human right and said that we have a duty to speak our minds for the sake of the common good.
Pope Francis, who has called on Muslim leaders in particular to speak out against Islamic extremism, went a step further when asked by a French journalist about whether there were limits when freedom of expression meets freedom of religion. He said,
“There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others. They are provocateurs.”
He said such horrific violence in God’s name couldn’t be justified and was an “aberration.” But he said a reaction of some sort was to be expected.
And today, the Vatican joined with four prominent French imams to issue a joint declaration that denounced the Paris newspaper massacre, and warned that the world is a dangerous place without freedom of expression. However, the declaration cautioned, the media should be respectful of religions.
Signatories on the declaration include French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who heads the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Djelloul Seddiki, head of the Paris Mosque; Tareq Oubrou, director of the Bordeaux mosque; Azzedine Gaci of the Villeurbanne mosque; and Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of Mosques in France.