“Charlie Hebdo” has bid adieu to drawing Muhammad.
The top editor and publisher of the French satirical weekly said his publication would no longer draw cartoons of the Muslim prophet, telling German magazine “Stern” that he did not want to believe his organization “was possessed by Islam.”
Laurent Sourisseau said the decision has nothing to do with the deadly January terror attack that left 12 dead and several others wounded.
“We have done our job. We have defended the right to caricature”
“We have drawn Muhammad to defend the principle that one can draw whatever they want,” said Sourisseau, who was injured at the “Hebdo” office when it came under attack by two Islamic militants. “It is a bit strange though: we are expected to exercise a freedom of expression that no one dares to.”
The publication was attacked because it had depicted Muhammad, according to an al-Qaeda affiliate that claimed responsibility for the attack. Drawing Muhammad is considered blasphemous in Islam. Hebdo’s response was to feature a caricature of Muhammad on the cover of its next issue.
“We have done our job,” Sourisseau said. “We have defended the right to caricature.”
Despite putting an end to drawing Muhammad, however, Sourisseau still thinks “Charlie Hebdo” has the right to provoke Islam.
“We still believe that we have the right to criticize all religions,” he said.
And though he personally saw several of his fellow cartoonists gunned down by two brothers carrying out their radical Islamic ideology, Sourisseau doesn’t appear to harbor any additional animus toward the Islamic faith.
“The mistakes you can blame Islam for can be found in other religions,” he said.
The deadly attack in January marked the second time the "Charlie Hebdo" office was targeted by an extremist group upset with its depictions of Muhammad. The office was firebombed in 2011, though no one was injured during that attack.
The attacks against "Charlie Hebdo" were two of the more visible incidents involving extremists looking to inflict violence because of a depiction of Muhammad, but they were hardly the only ones. Violent protests broke out after a Danish newspaper published several cartoons of Muhammad in September 2005. More recently, a pair of Islamic militants were shot dead in Texas as they opened fire at a "Draw Muhammad" art exhibition in May 2015