Qatar has come out strongly against the recent publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on the front page of a French satirical newspaper, saying that “freedom of expression does not mean insulting others.”
The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs made its remarks about 10 days after condemning a deadly attack on the same publication.
On Jan. 8, gunmen stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12 people – including cartoonists, the publication’s top editor and police officers.
The men were apparently seeking revenge for the publishing of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, among other controversial cartoons.
At the time, Qatar officials “stressed that such acts against defenseless civilians contradict with all moral principles and human values.”
In its first issue since the attack, Charlie Hebdo this week published an edition with a cover that reprised its Prophet Muhammad caricature.
The tearful cartoon is holding up an “I am Charlie” sign (a hashtag that many have embraced to support freedom of expression). Above his head, a banner declares: “All is forgiven.”
The millions of printed copies quickly sold out in France.
But many Muslims have said they are offended by the cartoon.
— ود البيه (@khalidalbaih) January 15, 2015
In a statement issued late Thursday night, MOFA said “that freedom of expression does not mean offending others and provoke feelings and cynicism on the beliefs and religious symbols.”
“Such actions were shameful and would not serve the interests of any one but it would fuel the hatred, anger, and constitute a violation of human values and the principles of peaceful coexistence, tolerance, moderation and mutual respect among peoples.
The ministry called on the Western media to respect others and their beliefs and keep away from intolerance and extremism and be committed to the values and principles upon which the Western civilization were established.”
The sentiment was echoed this week by many Muslim community members and leaders, including Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who called the cartoon an “open provocation.”
Pope Francis also weighed in, stressing that freedom of speech was important, but had its limits.
Speaking to journalists flying with him on a trip to the Philippines, the pontiff said that last week’s attacks were an “aberration” and could not be justified.
But he added, as reported by the BBC:
“If my good friend Doctor Gasparri (who organizes the Pope’s trips) speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched,” he said, throwing a pretend punch at the doctor, who was standing beside him.
“You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. There is a limit.”
However, the cartoonist who drew the caricature said he cried after drawing it, suggesting his intention was not to offend.
In a statement, Luz explained:
“This was not the front page the world wanted us to draw, it was our front page.
This is not the front page that the terrorists want us to draw, as there are no terrorists in it, just a man who cries: it’s Mohammed. I am sorry that we drew him again, but the Mohammed we drew is a Mohammed who is crying above all.”