The head of one of the largest Catholic organizations in the U.S. said Wednesday that if the publisher of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo “not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive.”
“It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death,” Catholic League president Bill Donohue said of Charlie Hebdo publisher and cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier.
Known as Charb, Charbonnier was one of 12 killed by masked Islamic gunmen Wednesday morning.
Three men stormed the magazine’s headquarters in Paris and opened fire. The gunmen reportedly sought out Charb, asking for him by name and then assassinating him.
The men also yelled “Allahu Akbar” during the shootings and reportedly told witnesses that they were members of al-Qaida and that they were seeking to “avenge the Prophet.”
The shooters — still at large — also fatally shot two police officers in the streets of Paris.
The gunmen were reportedly outraged at Charlie Hebdo — and Charb — over its recent publication of several cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad.
The recent cartoons were not Charlie Hebdo’s first stab at religious satire. The publication’s offices were burned down in 2011 after the publication of other cartoons satirizing Muhammad.
But besides focusing solely on Islam, the magazine has also skewered Christianity and other organized religions.
It is that history which appeared to bother the outspoken Donohue most.
“Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures,” Donohue said.
“For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses.”
What Donohue did not — could not — cite were any instances where spurned Catholics targeted Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists or placed bounties on their heads, as Islamic extremists reportedly did.
“What unites Muslims in their anger against Charlie Hebdo is the vulgar manner in which Muhammad has been portrayed,” Donohue continued. “What they object to is being intentionally insulted over the course of many years.”
“On this aspect, I am in total agreement with them.”
Donohue attempted to qualify his remarks, saying that killing in response to such offenses “must be unequivocally condemned.”
The Catholic civil rights leader equivocated, however.
“That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated,” said Donohue, adding “But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.