'Charlie Hebdo' Editor Criticizes U.S. Media for Refusing to Show Cover

Associated Press
Editor Stephane Charbonnier with an issue of Charlie Hebdo

"They blur out democracy," he told NBC's Chuck Todd on 'Meet the Press.'

As newspaper Charlie Hebdo prints a record 7 million print run, editor-in-chief Gerard Biard is slamming U.S. media for refusing to show the cover of the latest issue, in an interview with NBC News.

"This cartoon is not just a little figure. It's a symbol. It's the symbol of freedom of speech, of freedom of religion, of democracy and secularism," he told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd on Sunday. "When they refuse to publish this cartoon, when they blur it out, when they decline to publish it, they blur out democracy."

Several American news organizations — including channels ABC, CNN, and NBC along with the Associated Press, The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter — have not shown what has been billed the "survivors' issue" cover featuring a cartoon drawing of Islam's Muhammad. Meanwhile, CBS News showed the cover image during broadcasts on multiple platforms. 

Some publishers have also restricted publication in some parts of the world. The Economist published the picture in its U.S., U.K. and European editions, but the space was left blank in the edition printed in Singapore, adding a note directing readers to a web page where they could view the cover if they wished.

"We do not kill anyone," Biard said. "We must stop conflating the murderers and the victims. We must stop declaring that those who write and draw are provocateurs, that they are throwing gas on the fire. We must not place thinkers and artists in the same category as murders."

The cover of the newspaper released Jan. 14 — just one week after gunmen stormed its offices and killed 12, including editor Stephane Charbonnier and cartoonists Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinski and economist Bernard Maris — shows Muhammad shedding a tear while holding an "I Am Charlie" sign, which has become the rallying cry and symbol of Hebdo supporters, under the words "All Is Forgiven."

Biard maintained that the newspaper is atheist and said that employees come from various faiths.

"Every time that we draw a cartoon of Muhammad, every time that we draw a cartoon of the prophet, every time that we draw a cartoon of God, we defend the freedom of religion," said Biard. "Religion should not be a political argument."

The newspaper added an additional 2 million to its record print run over the weekend, after selling out 1 million copies per day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday throughout France and its European neighbors, such as Germany.

However, protests directed at French embassies have taken place across Africa and the Middle East in response to the cover, including Algeria, Jordan, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia, Niger, where five people were killed as several Christian churches were set on fire, and Pakistan, where a French news photographer was injured by gunfire.

9:25 am, Jan. 19 Corrected: This post initially stated that CBS had not shown the new Charlie Hebdo magazine cover. In fact, CBS News showed the cover on CBS This Morning, the CBS Evening News and its digital network. 

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