New French cartoons inflame prophet film tensions

By Lori Hinnant

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 19 2012 4:01 p.m. MDT

"I'm not the one going into the streets with stones and Kalashnikovs," he said. "We've had 1,000 issues and only three problems, all after front pages about radical Islam."

The cartoonist, who goes by the name Luz, also was defiant.

"We treat the news like journalists. Some use cameras, some use computers. For us, it's a paper and pencil," he said. "A pencil is not a weapon. It's just a means of expression."

A small-circulation weekly, Charlie Hebdo often draws attention for ridiculing sensitivity about the Prophet Muhammad. It was acquitted in 2008 by a Paris appeals court of "publicly abusing a group of people because of their religion" following a complaint by Muslim associations.

The magazine has staked out a sub-genre in France's varied media universe with its cartoons. Little is sacred, and Wednesday's issue also featured caricatures of people as varied as Clint Eastwood, an unnamed Roman Catholic cardinal who looked a bit like Pope John Paul II and French President Francois Hollande, a staple.

At the demonstration in Lebanon, Nabil Kaouk, deputy chief of Hezbollah's Executive Council, warned the United States and France not to anger Muslims.

"Be careful of the anger of our nation that is ready to defend the prophet," he said. "Our hearts are wounded and our chests are full of anger."

Nasser Dheini, a 40-year-old farmer, said instead of boosting security at its embassies, France should close down the offending magazine.

"Freedom of opinion should not be by insulting religions," said Dheini, carrying his 4-year-old son Sajed.

Outside the magazine's Paris offices, a passer-by wearing a traditional Muslim tunic said he was neither surprised nor shocked by the cartoons. He criticized France's decision to close embassies and schools for fear of protests by extremists.

"It gives legitimacy to movements that don't have any," said Hatim Essoufaly, who was walking his toddler in a stroller.

Associated Press writers Nicolas Garriga, Greg Keller and Jeff Schaeffer in Paris, Bassem Mroue in Tyre, Lebanon, and Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington contributed to this report.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS