One year after attack, Charlie Hebdo depicts God as terrorist still at large

by Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)A man takes a copy of the latest edition of French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo with the title, "One year on, The assassin still on the run," displayed at a kiosk in Nice, France, Jan. 6, 2016. France this week commemorates the victims of last year's Islamist militant attacks on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket with eulogies, memorial plaques and another cartoon lampooning religion.

PARIS (Christian Examiner) – On the one year anniversary of the terror attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, the magazine has published a cover that has even the Vatican's communications service calling the publication "blasphemous."

Charlie Hebdo made fun of everyone – including Catholics and Jews – in a way that was crude and offensive. But no one was obliged to buy the newspaper. Some Catholics stopped reading the Times after it printed a cartoon with Benedict XVI wearing a condom on his head. That's what religious people should do with publications that offend – don't buy them.
- Ed West, Catholic Herald

The cover of the special anniversary edition features a bearded man crouching beneath the "all seeing eye," an ancient representation of God. He is armed with an AK-47 and has blood stains on his white tunic. The magazine features the title, "The assassin is still out there."

Charlie Hebdo has made its fortune in satire and its political cartoons, some of which are risqué, but most of which are intended to poke fun as society's conventions – male leadership, nationalism, and organized religion.

Now, by referring to God as the terrorist responsible for the attack one year ago, the Vatican's newspaper has responded to the cartoon, calling it a cheap shoot from a magazine that is the voice of "uncompromising secularism."

"Behind the deceptive flag of uncompromising secularism, the weekly is forgetting once more what religious leaders of every faith unceasingly repeat to reject violence in the name of religion – using God to justify hatred is a genuine blasphemy, as pope Francis has said several times," the Italian-language daily L'Osservatore Romano said.

"In Charlie Hebdo's choice, there is the sad paradox of a world which is more and more sensitive about being politically correct, almost to the point of ridicule, yet does not wish to acknowledge or to respect believers' faith in God, regardless of the religion."

Charlie Hebdo's head of publication, Laurent Sourisseau, told CNN's Amanpour that the magazine's employees decided to use an image for God on the front cover because "it's the very idea of God that may have killed our friends a year ago."

"So we wanted to widen our vision of things. Faith is not always peaceful. Maybe we should learn to live with a little less of God," Sourisseau said. "No, this is not Mohammed. It's above him. It's the God of all those who have faith."

At the same time the Vatican was blasting the satirical depiction of God, the deputy editor of the Catholic Herald was claiming Charlie Hebdo was within its rights to criticize any and all religions – and, in some cases, morally obligated to do so.

Ed West writes at the Catholic Herald that those who criticized Charlie Hebdo (after the attack last year and presumably now, as well) failed to realize that when the followers of a religion, such as Islam, threaten people for what they write or draw, there is a moral obligation to point fingers at the religion – and laugh.

"Charlie Hebdo made fun of everyone – including Catholics and Jews – in a way that was crude and offensive. But no one was obliged to buy the newspaper. Some Catholics stopped reading the Times after it printed a cartoon with Benedict XVI wearing a condom on his head. That's what religious people should do with publications that offend – don't buy them," West wrote.