Freedom of expression has limits, one can't provoke: Pope on Charlie Hebdo cartoons

Pope on Charlie Hebdo cartoons

Freedom of expression has limits, one can't provoke: Pope on Charlie Hebdo cartoons

Manila: Even as France and entire world at large, continue to reel under shock generated by deadly attacks on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo's office, Pope Francis on Thursday said that freedom of expression has limits and that one can't provoke others or insult others' faith. However, the pope added that it was an "aberration" to kill in God's name.

The ruthless attack by Kouachi brothers on Charlie Hebdo's office for publishing Prophet Muhammad cartoons killed eight cartoonists last week, triggering outrage worldwide as rallies were held across the globe in a show of solidarity with the victims.

France witnessed the biggest ever gathering of marchers on Sunday as more than 3 million people rallied across the country along with 40 global leaders to pitch for freedom of expression.

However, Pope Francis objected to unbridled freedom of expression saying that it was inappropriate to provoke others or insult their faith.

Trying to present his opinion on a lighter note, the pope gave the example of his aide Alberto Gasparri, who organises his papal trips and was standing by his side aboard the papal plane.

"If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It's normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others," the Pope said as quoted by a news agency.

However, Francis also said that it was an "aberration" to kill in the name of God and said religion can never be used to justify violence.

"One cannot make war (or) kill in the name of one's own religion... To kill in the name of God is an aberration," Francis said.

"There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others," he said.

Pope's comments came as he was en route to Philippines where he arrived later in the day for a five-day visit.

Though he defended freedom of expression as not only a fundamental human right but a duty to speak one's mind for the sake of the common good.

Many people around the world have defended the right of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish inflammatory cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed in the wake of the massacre by Islamic extremists at its Paris offices and subsequent attack on a kosher supermarket in which three gunmen killed 17 people.

But recently the Vatican and four prominent French imams issued a joint declaration that denounced the attacks but also urged the media to treat religions with respect.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, the Vatican has sought to downplay reports that it is a potential target for Islamic extremists, saying it is being vigilant but has received no specific threat.

Francis said he was concerned primarily for the faithful, and said he had spoken to Vatican security officials who are taking "prudent and secure measures."

"I am worried, but you know I have a defect: a good dose of carelessness. I'm careless about these things," he said. But he admitted that in his prayers, he had asked that if something were to happen to him that "it doesn't hurt, because I'm not very courageous when it comes to pain. I'm very timid."

He added, "I'm in God's hands."

Pope's remarks come just a day after a defiant Charlie Hebdo returned with another caricature of Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday.

French publication Liberation published the Charlie Hebdo cover online late Monday night, ahead of the satirical magazine's publication on Wednesday. The cartoon shows a bearded man in a white turban with a tear streaming down his cheek, and holding a sign reading "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie"). Overhead was the phrase: "Tout est Pardonne" ("All is Forgiven"), which French media interpreted as meaning Muhammad is forgiving the cartoonists for lampooning him.

A leader of Yemen's al-Qaida branch officially claimed responsibility for the attacks by two gunmen that left 12 dead at the weekly publication, saying in a video posted online that the slayings came in "vengeance for the prophet." The newspaper had received repeated threats for lampooning Muhammad.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls held up his copy after the weekly Cabinet meeting — but strategically placed his hand over the prophet's face.

Muslims believe their faith forbids depictions of the prophet, and some reacted with dismay — and occasional anger — to the new cover. Some who had supported Charlie Hebdo after the attacks felt betrayed and others feared the cartoon would trigger yet more violence.

Defending his caricature of the prophet on the latest cover, cartoonist Renald Luzier argued that there should be no exceptions to freedom of expression.

He said when the weekly was threatened before, the reaction was often: "Yes, but you shouldn't do that (publish cartoons of Muhammad). Yes, but you deserved that."

"There should be no more 'Yes, but," he insisted.

With Agency Inputs


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