Pulitzer-winning cartoonist slams US press for not republishing Charlie Hebdo cartoons

People walk by frontpages of Charlie-Hebdo magazines during in a unity rally (Marche Republicaine) on Jan 11, 2015, in Rennes where some 115,000 people took part in tribute to the 17 victims of the three-day killing spree. -- PHOTO: AFP
People walk by frontpages of Charlie-Hebdo magazines during in a unity rally (Marche Republicaine) on Jan 11, 2015, in Rennes where some 115,000 people took part in tribute to the 17 victims of the three-day killing spree. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - The American creator of Maus, a graphic novel about the Holocaust, has denounced the "hypocrisy" of US media for refusing to republish the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo magazine, targeted in an Islamist attack last week.

Mr Art Spiegelman said he "admires" Charlie Hebdo and thought the satirical magazine fulfilled its "mission" in 2006 by publishing a controversial caricature of Prophet Muhammad.

"I think it's so hypocritical to drape yourself in freedom of speech and then self censor yourself to the point where you are not making your readers understand the issues," Mr Spiegelman told AFP during a visit to Beijing. "That cartoon was not making fun of the Prophet, it was excoriating the believers who would kill."

While many media outlets republished several front-page cartoons in the wake of an attack that left 12 dead, among them some of Charlie Hebdo's top cartoonists, some of the largest US newspapers,including The New York Times, refused for fear of offending readers.

"We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well: that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire. Most of these are gratuitous insult," Mr Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, said according to a blog post written by the public editor Margaret Sullivan.

Mr Spiegelman's critically acclaimed Maus depicts his Jewish father's experience during the Holocaust, casting Jews as the mice of the title and Nazis as cats, and is the only comic book to have won a Pulitzer Prize.

Mocking what he called the "mega-fanatic zeal to be polite" in the American press, Mr Spiegelman said that Charlie Hebdo had not sought to hurt Muslims by publishing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, pointing out that the paper printed caricatures of the Pope and orthodox Jews as well.

"When religion overlaps with social and political issues, it's necessary to fight back, so Charlie is equally hard on Jews including anti-semitic caricatures and quotes when talking about Israel," he said.

"The equal opportunity insult that came with Charlie Hebdo was the reason it's estimable."