Some Newspapers and All Major American News Networks Decide Against Showing Charlie Hebdo’s Muhammad Cartoons

Photo: Alexander Klein/AFP/Getty Images

As news organizations reported on Wednesday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo, many made a point of not showing the cartoons that apparently angered the gunmen who killed 12 people at the satirical newspaper’s Paris offices. (Some Muslim traditions prohibit visual depictions of Prophet Muhammad, and the strictest interpretations of the religion’s anti-idolatry laws ban images of people altogether.) A few places took it a step further by obscuring images of Charlie Hebdo’s work.

At least two newspapers — the New York Daily News and the United Kingdom’s Telegraph — ran blurred Getty Images photos featuring Charlie Hebdo drawings

As BuzzFeed first reported, the Associated Press’s photo service deleted similar images. When contacted about the decision, a spokesperson said, “You’re correct: None of the images distributed by AP showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. It’s been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images.” (Within several hours, the AP was forced to more closely adhere to its stated policy by eliminating a picture of the artist Andres Serrano’s controversial Piss Christ after the conservative Washington Examiner pointed out that the piece was also “deliberately provocative.”)

Similarly, the New York Times told BuzzFeed that, “We do not normally publish images or other material deliberately intended to offend religious sensibilities. After careful consideration, Times editors decided that describing the cartoons in question would give readers sufficient information to understand today’s story.”

Meanwhile, all of the United States’ major news networks — CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, and Fox — said they wouldn’t air images of the Muhammad cartoons. (A shot of one Charlie Hebdo drawing made it onto this morning’s Fox & Friends, but the Washington Post said Fox had “no plans” to show more.)

On the other side of the spectrum was Germany’s Berlin Zeitung, which gave the world an early look at its Thursday cover:

News Outlets Aren’t Showing Muhammad Cartoons