The massacre at Charlie Hebdo in Paris

by Maureen Fiedler

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The news of the horrific shootings at Charlie Hebdo in Paris broke Wednesday. At "Interfaith Voices," we rushed to deal with this breaking news to provide some religious insight not often covered elsewhere.

First, most of the media reports give the impression that all the cartoons about religion published by Charlie Hebdo focused on Islam. Not true. The magazine also published cartoons that regularly offended Catholics, including one cover that depicted Pope Benedict XVI resigning from the papacy to elope with a member of the Swiss Guard. In fact, the Catholic church of France took the publication to court several times for distasteful portrayals of Catholics. The publication also skewered other religions and just about any politician in France. But in the religious world, Islam has gotten its focused attention in recent years.

It appears that the shooters in this massacre were avenging the publication of offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. So we at "Interfaith Voices" wondered about artistic depictions of the prophet.

Some publications said creating any image of the prophet is against Islamic law. Well, not exactly. Turns out there is not total agreement about this among Islamic scholars, but what really angers Muslims are insulting and degrading depictions of Muhammad.

One of our guests on "Interfaith Voices," Yasir Qadhi, a Muslim cleric, said, "Of course, most Muslims are offended by the kind of offensive cartoons printed by Charlie Hebdo, but this is no reason for murder."

Listen to my interview with Qadhi, a professor of Islamic studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., and Christiane Gruber, an art historian at the University of Michigan, here.

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