Italian town sues Charlie Hebdo for quake cartoons

Amatrice town council says the Charlie Hebdo cartoons “amount to a macabre, tactless and inconceivable insult to the victims of a natural catastrophe”.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

The Charlie Hebdo magazine has a history of printing controversial material.

Updated Sep 15, 2016

An Italian town devastated by last month’s deadly earthquake is suing French weekly Charlie Hebdo for defamation over a series of cartoons about the disaster.

The satirical magazine caused an outcry in Amatrice in Italy by publishing three pasta-themed cartoons on the subject of the quake, including one portraying victims crushed under layers of lasagna.

“It amounts to a macabre, tactless and inconceivable insult to the victims of a natural catastrophe,” the town council’s lawyer, Mario Cicchetti, told reporters after the largely symbolic legal move was announced. 

Days after the quake hit Italy on August 24, killing nearly 300 people and destroying almost three quarters of Amatrice, the cartoons were published striking a raw nerve.

The cartoons prompted Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano to say he knew where the authors “could stick their pencils”.

"We cried over their dead — they mocked ours," Alfano added. 

The hashtag "CharlieHebdo" was trending on Twitter after the cartoons were published with many people voicing their opinion against it.

The Charlie Hebdo magazine also has a history of printing controversial material that takes aims at various religious groups.

The magazine's headquarters in Paris were attacked in January last year, when two masked gunmen stormed into the office killing 12 people including a police officer, the then editor-in-chief and three other cartoonists.

Witnesses said the attack was in response to a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

The magazine also drew criticism worldwide for publishing a cartoon illustration of drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi.

TRTWorld and agencies