Charlie Hebdo journalists 'provoked' their own slaughter with 'disgusting record', says American Catholic group

The Catholic League says the satirical weekly’s cartoons should not be tolerated

An American group that claims to represent the interests of US Catholics has criticised the French magazine where 12 people were killed yesterday, arguing that the victims “provoked” their own slaughter.

In a statement released yesterday headlined “Muslims are right to be angry”, Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, accused Charlie Hebdo of “intolerance” and its journalists' “disgusting record” of playing a role in causing their own death.

“Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction,” he said in a statement.

“Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures.”

The Catholic League president described the newspaper’s publisher, who was killed in the violence, as “narcissistic”, criticising him by name.

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A drawing depicting cartoonist Jean Cabut, left, Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, center, and cartoonist Georges Wolinski

“Stephane Charbonnier, the paper’s publisher, was killed today in the slaughter. It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death.

“Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive,” he said.

Mr Donohue cited cartoons of nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms, as well as depictions of the prophet Mohammed in “pornographic poses”.

 

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is an influential group in the United States, with a multi-million dollar budget and assets, as well as membership numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

The League is the US’s largest Catholic civil rights organization and was founded in 1973.

It is not directly associated with the Catholic Church's hierarchy but has close ties to its local leadership in New York, according to US newspaper The New York Times.

The tone of the comments by the League is in stark contrast to those of the Catholic Church’s international leadership.

A spokesperson for Pope Francis yesterday condemned the slaughter at the satirical magazine as “abominable” and called for unity.

“The Holy Father expresses his firmest condemnation of the horrible attack," the spokesperson said.

“Whatever its motivation might be, homicidal violence is abominable [and] is never justified.”

The murder of nine journalists, two police officers and a maintenance man by masked men has shocked France. Around 11.30am yesterday gunmen forcibly entered the offices of the satirical magazine, where a weekly editorial meeting was taking place.

After forcing journalists to identify themselves, the gunmen opened fire. They were later seen fleeing the building and are still at large.

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