News outlets have reported this month that the notoriously controversial French humor magazine Charlie Hebdo is being sued by a pair of Arab rights organizations over caricatures of the Islamic prophet Mohammed, which were published in September.
In the wake of widespread protest and unrest over the film The Innocence of Muslims, the magazine chose to run a set of cartoons of the prophet, whose depiction is a well-known taboo in Muslim culture. Italian news source ANSAmed describes one of the cartoons:
One of [the images] showed the prophet lying naked on a bed and repeating one of Brigitte Bardot’s lines from the 1963 film Contempt: ”What about my behind — do you like my behind?”
The Algerian Gathering for Peace and Progress, and the United Arab Organization, have filed the suit, claiming that Charlie Hebdo deliberately incited racial hatred:
The drawings are ‘an offense to the honor and the consideration of the Prophet Mohammed and of the Muslim community,’ the two groups charged in their suit.
Reports suggest that the damages sought range from 580,000 to 780,000 Euros. According to Daily News Egypt, the suit is directed at the magazine, as well as the publisher and cartoonists.
Charlie Hebdo has been sued and cleared in the past for similar publications, and suits for defamation and public injury were filed immediately following the September publication, though they were not pursued.
Joe Izenman is a freelance writer and musician in Tacoma, Washington. He owns a lot of comics and he’s pretty sure someone, somewhere would be offended by more than a few of them.