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Italian village to sue Charlie Hebdo over "tactless" earthquake cartoons

A series of cartoons depicting Italians crushed under plates of pasta appeared in the French satirical weekly following last month’s earthquake which killed nearly 300 people.

AMATRICE, THE ITALIAN town devastated by last month’s deadly earthquake, is suing French weekly Charlie Hebdo for defamation over a series of cartoons about the disaster.

The satirical magazine caused an outcry in Italy by publishing three pasta-themed cartoons on the subject of the quake, including one portraying victims crushed under layers of lasagna.

“It amounts to a macabre, tactless and inconceivable insult to the victims of a natural catastrophe,” the town council’s lawyer, Mario Cicchetti, told reporters after the largely symbolic legal move was announced.

Published only days after the quake struck on 24 August, killing nearly 300 people, the cartoons struck a raw nerve, notably prompting Interior Minister Angelino Alfano to say he knew where the authors “could stick their pencils”.

The French publication responded with a follow-up cartoon showing a woman crushed under ruins and the caption: “It is not Charlie Hebdo who builds your houses, it is the mafia.”

There was no immediate response from the French publication to the suit.

The quake struck central Italy on 24 August, with the small town of Amatrice bearing the brunt. The town is the home of the all’amatriciana pasta dish.

Italian Senate leader Pietro Grasso said that he respected “the freedom of satire and of irony,” but added that “I am free to say that all this is disgusting”.

Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris were the scene of a deadly jihadist attack in January 2015.

Jihadist brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi gunned down eight Charlie staff as well as several others in and around their building in the attack on the magazine whose drawings of Mohammed drew furious reactions from Muslims worldwide.

There was a wave of international sympathy for the magazine and its staff after that attack.

The French embassy in Rome previously issued a statement on the earthquake drawings, saying that “the Charlie Hebdo cartoon in no way represents France’s position”.

© – AFP, 2016

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