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article imageCharlie Hebdo publishes comic book on Prophet Mohammed

By Raluca Besliu     Jan 2, 2013 in Politics
On Wednesday, Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, published a comic book biography of the life of Prophet Mohammed.
In its official description of this particular comic book, the magazine claims that its purpose is to educate the French audience about the Prophet, by arguing that, in a society where Islam is the second largest religion, few actually know about Mohammed, while everyone is able to cite passages about the life of Jesus.
The description also presented the comic book as “halal,” because, claims one of the coauthors, French-Morrocan sociologist Zineb El-Rhazoui, it has been researched and edited by Muslim historians and scholars and it represents a compilation of Muslim chroniclers’ writings about the Prophet put into images.
The comic’s authors claim that the book on the Prophet’s life is neither a caricature, nor a satire and that not even the most erudite Muslim will be able to find anything inappropriate.
Muslims consider the depiction of the Prophet as sacrilegious. In response, Stephane Charbonnier, the magazine’s director and the illustrator of the book whose front page shows Mohammed leading a camel through the desert, emphasized that the interdiction to represent the Prophet is not contained in the Koran, but is simply tradition.
This is just one of the several times that Charlie Hebdo has published comic books about Mohammed, in its declared effort to protect free speech. In October 2012, the magazine published a cartoon depicting a rabbi pushing the Prophet in a wheelchair with the headline “Intouchables 2,” while one other cartoons inside the magazine depicted the Prophet naked. This publication immediately followed violent protests that had been taking place against a low-budget Youtube film produced in the United States, which ridiculed the Prophet. The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, condemned the cartoons during a visit to Cairo, when he stressed that the French government opposed hostile provocations at that time.
In 2011, after republishing Danish cartoons mocking the Prophet, a firebomb hit the magazine's offices and its website. Charbonnier has received death threats and currently lives under police protection. Charlie Hebdo has been irreverent and offensive on a variety of topics, ranging from Christianity, Judaism and Islam to politicians, judges and bankers.
Thus far, reactions to the newly published cartoon remain muted in comparison to that caused by other depictions published by the French Weekly. On Monday, a senior political adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the comic book as a deliberate provocation.
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