Srinagar: Stating that France has a freedom of expression, the French President Emmanuel Macron has said that it was not his place to pass judgment on the decision by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to re-publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).
On sidelines of his visit to Lebanon, Macron said that it was incumbent on French citizens to show civility and respect for each other, and avoid a “dialogue of hate.”
On the eve of a trial in Paris of alleged accomplices in a 2015 attack on the magazine’s offices by gunmen in which 12 people were killed, the magazine re-published the cartoons.
The cartoons first published by Charlie Hebdo and other publications, unleashed a wave of anger in the Muslim world. According to the Muslim belief, any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is blasphemous.
Before the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices, the gunmen had warned the magazine would pay for publishing the cartoons.
“It’s never the place of a president of the Republic to pass judgment on the editorial choice of a journalist or newsroom, never. Because we have freedom of the press,” international media quoted Macron as having said.
Last year, Macron, according to a report by New York Times, faced widespread criticism for giving a long, exclusive interview to Valeurs Actuelles, a right-wing magazine, and defended himself by saying that he had to speak to all French people.
But over the weekend, he joined other political leaders in condemning the same magazine for depicting a Black lawmaker as an enslaved African.
The attack on Charlie Hebdo was the first of a string of major attacks on Paris.
On January 7, 2015, two French-born brothers of Algerian descent, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo. They killed 11 people inside with automatic gunfire, including the top editor and some of its leading cartoonists, and then killed a police officer on the street as they made their getaway. Several people were wounded.
The brothers identified themselves as belonging to Al-Qaeda and left the magazine stating that they were “avenging the Prophet,’’ according to survivors of the attack. Two days later, a friend of theirs, Amedy Coulibaly, took hostages and killed four people at a kosher supermarket in Paris.
The worst of the assaults came 10 months later, when a group of gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people and injured more than 400 at multiple sites across the capital region.
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