Charlie Hebdo receives death threats for mocking Muslim scholar accused of rape

The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo said it has received new death threats after its latest front-page cartoon on Islam that features a sexually charged image of a prominent Muslim scholar who has been accused of rape.

Charlie Hebdo filed a complaint with Paris prosecutor's office, which said on Monday that it opened an investigation. The cover mocks Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan, who has recently been accused of rape but continues to teach at Oxford University.

Ramadan, 55, is considered a conservative Islamic intellectual in France. He has denied rape allegations and refers to them as a "campaign of slander." The Charlie Hebdo cover depicts a sexually aroused version of Ramadan and the text, "Rape: Tariq Ramadan's defense," with the caption: “I am the sixth pillar of Islam.”

The five pillars are faith, prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca. Some consider jihad the actual sixth pillar. Last month, French authorities opened an investigation into Ramadan after a woman filed a complaint with French authorities in Rouen accusing Ramadan of sexual harassment, rape and making death threats. Ramadan was once banned from the United States by George W. Bush in 2004, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reversed the decision in 2010.

The weekly publication continues to take bold stances against controversial figures despite being attacked by Islamic extremists in 2015 after poking fun at Muslim prophet Muhammad. The terror attack left 12 people dead inside the magazine’s office and made the phrase “Je suis Charlie” an international slogan of support.

People pay tribute to the victims of the satirical newspaper "Charlie Hebdo", in Marseille, southern France, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, a day after masked gunmen stormed the offices of a satirical newspaper and killed 12 people. French police hunted Thursday for two heavily armed men — one with a terrorism conviction and a history in jihadi networks — in the methodical killing of 12 people at a satirical newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad. Placard reads "I am Charlie" . (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Charlie Hebdo editor Laurent "Riss" Sourisseau told Europe 1 radio that threats "never really stopped" after the attack, but they always takes them seriously.

"It's always difficult to know if these are serious threats or not, but as a principle, we take them seriously and press charges," Sourisseau told the radio station.

Sourisseau is also the cartoonist for the Ramadan cover. Jean “Plantu” Plantureux, a longtime French editorial cartoonist, doesn’t think the cover is a big deal despite a new batch of threats.

“It’s great this drawing. I don’t see what people have against it. He’s got a big d*ck and says I’m the sixth pillar of Islam. They’re just having a bit of fun,” Plantu told The Telegraph.

The satirical magazine has received backlash for mocking a variety of topics and subjects, coming under fire in 2016 for portraying Italian earthquake victims as pasta dishes. 

Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.