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(Credit: Charlie Hebdo, screenshot)

French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published “obscene cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad” this week.  The New York Times described the cartoons as “several crude caricatures” including “some of which depict Muhammad naked and in pornographic poses.”

According to the BBC, Charlie Hebdo‘s cartoons “play on both the uproar in the Islamic world over an amateur video which mocks Islam and the row over the publication in France of topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge.”  (Check out our reports on Closer magazine’s publication of the photos of Kate Middleton.)

Charlie Hebdo‘s editor, Gerard Biard, is quoted as telling the BBC “These publications will not cost lives…Who killed people? We are not killing people, I’m sorry. We are not the violent ones. We are just journalists.”

The magazine also posted a “petition for supporting Charlie Hebdo and the freedom of speech” on its website defending the cartoons as in the magazine’s “right to satirize.”

The cartoons had immediate repercussions as the magazine’s website was hacked (and was only briefly accessible last night to iMediaEthics), “a lawsuit was filed against” the magazine by an unnamed complainant, and “French embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools in about 20 countries” were scheduled to be closed this Friday, according to the AP and the New York Times.

The Washington Post added that “French authorities stationed riot police at Hebdo’s headquarters” because of the cartoons as well.

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And both the French Prime Minister and the spokesperson for the White House both commented on the cartoons, the BBC noted. White House spokesperson Jay Carney is quoted as saying “We know that these images will be deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory.”

As the Washington Post noted, “The magazine, which has a circulation of about 55,000, was fire-bombed last year after it published a previous set of cartoons that mocked Islam.”

We’ve written to Charlie Hebdo’s Biard for more information and will update with any response.

Hat Tip: Poynter

Update: 10/2/2012 10:53 AM EST: Added info from Washington Post and Charlie Hebdo

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French Magazine Charlie Hebdo Runs ‘Crude’ Cartoons of Muhammad

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