French Macron: I will not condemn the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad


French President Emmanuel Macron looks on as he attends a press conference at the Pine Residence, the official residence of the French Ambassador to Lebanon, in Beirut, Lebanon, September 1, 2020. REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes / Pool

BEIRUT (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday it was not for him to judge the decision of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to republish the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, saying France enjoys freedom of speech.

But Macron, during a visit to Lebanon, said it was incumbent on French citizens to show civility and respect to one another and avoid a “dialogue of hatred”.

The magazine republished the cartoons on the eve of a trial in Paris of alleged accomplices in a 2015 attack on the magazine’s offices by armed Islamist militants in which 12 people were killed.

When first published by Charlie Hebdo and other publications, the cartoons sparked anger in the Muslim world. For Muslims, any representation of the prophet is blasphemous.

Before the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices, online activists warned the magazine would pay for the cartoons to be published.

“It is never for a President of the Republic to pass judgment on the editorial choice of a journalist or a newsroom, never. Because we have freedom of the press, ”said Macron.

Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, written by Christian Lowe; Edited by Dan Grebler

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