Leading US news outlets mostly declined to show controversial cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday after suspected Islamist gunmen in Paris killed 12 people at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Online news sources the Daily Beast and Slate published the cartoons, but major US publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the Associated Press, did not. Some said their guidelines call for avoiding publishing images or other material intended at offending religious sensibilities.
“After careful consideration, Times editors decided that describing the cartoons in question would give readers sufficient information to understand today’s story,” New York Times Company spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said by email.
Bill Marimow, editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, said, “We will not under any circumstances run the cartoons. The idea of gratuitously insulting tens of millions of Muslim people rather than describing something in words is not a close call.”
Representatives at Reuters, Slate and the Daily Beast did not immediately return calls seeking comment. The Associated Press has a long-standing policy of refraining from using provocative images, spokesman Paul Colford said.
Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) is well known for courting controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders of all faiths and has published numerous cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad.
The hooded attackers stormed the Paris offices. During the attack, one of the assailants was captured on video outside the building shouting, “We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have avenged the Prophet Mohammad.”
Many Muslims believe it is blasphemous to create pictures of the Prophet Mohammad and Jihadists online repeatedly warned that the magazine would pay for its ridicule.