THE FRENCH SATRICIAL magazine Charlie Hebdo has published caricatures of the Muslim prophet Muhammed, in a move that has angered French authorities who have strengthened security around the magazines premises and French embassies abroad.
Featuring an imam being pushed in his wheelchair by a rabbi, the front cover featured a cartoon under the title “Untouchables 2: do not laugh!”, a reference to a French film in which a poor black man helps an aristocratic quadriplegic.
Another photo on the back page shows a naked turbaned Mohammed exposing his backside, in a scene apparently inspired by French film star Brigitte Bardot.
French Foreign minister Laurent Fabius condemned the publication of the photos.
“Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?” he told France Info radio. “In France, there is a principle of freedom of expression, which should not be undermined.”
The French Council of the Muslim Faith said it was “deeply shocked” by the publication of these drawings and urged “Muslims to France not to yield to the provocation.”
However, the magazine defended the publication of the photos, stating that it would “shock only those who still want to be shocked.”
Dozens of people were killed in violence last week in several Arab and Muslim countries as a result of the dissemination of an islamophobic film on the internet.
Charlie Hebdo is no stranger to controversy concerning Muslims. Last year it featured an edition “guest edited” by the Muslim prophet, while in 2006 it decided to republish cartoons of Muhammad that first appeared in a Danish newspaper.