French Magazine Publishes Prophet Muhammad Cartoon, Asserts Free Speech Right: Embassies to Close
A French satirical magazine has published cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad, further heightening global tensions surrounding Islamic blasphemy protests. The French authorities sent police to protect the publication's offices while the magazine's publishing director made a passionate defense of the right to free speech in Western democracies. Publishing director of Charlie Hebdo Charb: "Muhammad is sacred for the Muslims and I can understand that, but for Muslims only. I am atheist. Muhammad is not sacred for me. I understand perfectly that the Muslims don't violate the law of blasphemy and I don't blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. But they shouldn't tell me under which law I should live. I live under French law and I don't live under Quranic law." Release of the publication came amid widespread Muslim outrage over a short film mocking the Prophet Mohammad which ignited days of deadly protests. The Obama administration and many other Western governments have thus far refused to come out in support of freedom of speech, instead calling for calm and for the movie not to be distributed, but France appears to have taken a progressive stance with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault saying the country has a "free press that can express itself right up to the point of caricature". Meanwhile, the Rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris called the caricatures "a useless and stupid provocation" but asserted that Muslims are not like animals who must react to every ...