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Catholic League's Bill Donohue Criticized for Saying 'Muslims Are Right to Be Angry' Over Charlie Hebdo Cartoons; Argues Cartoonists 'Abused Freedom'

Paris shootings
An employee of the Council of Europe holds a placard which read "I am Charlie" and a pen, during a minute of silence in front of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, January 9, 2015, two days after gunmen stormed weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The two main suspects in the weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killings were sighted on Friday in the northern French town of Dammartin-en-Goele where at least one person had been taken hostage, a police source said. |

Catholic League President Bill Donohue has responded to criticism he received for saying that "Muslims are right to be angry" over the controversial prophet Mohammed cartoons by French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which led to a terrorist attack that killed 12 people, by arguing that the cartoonists "abused freedom" with the highly offensive material they chose to publish.

"My position is this: the murderers are fully responsible for what they did and should be treated with the full force of the law. Nothing justifies the killing of these people. But this is not the whole of this issue," Donohue wrote on Thursday in a statement.

Bill Donohue, President, The Catholic League
Bill Donahue, President, The Catholic League |

"The cartoonists, and all those associated with Charlie Hebdo, are no champions of freedom. Quite the opposite: their obscene portrayal of religious figures — so shocking that not a single TV station or mainstream newspaper would show them — represents an abuse of freedom."

In a previous statement on Wednesday titled "Muslims are right to be angry," Donohue said that the cartoonists "have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures."

He pointed out that the magazine has posted material such as "nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms," along with Muhammad being shown in pornographic poses.

Two gunmen stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Wednesday, killing 12 people. The attack is believed to be connected to the magazine's decision to post cartoons of the Islamic holy figure on a number of occasions, which angered some in the Muslim world and led to Charlie Hebdo's offices being fire-bombed in November 2011.

Donohue said that while Muslims have different views on depictions of Muhammad, all stand against the "vulgar manner" in which the cartoonists portrayed the holy figure.

"What they object to is being intentionally insulted over the course of many years. On this aspect, I am in total agreement with them," Donohue wrote.

"Stephane Charbonnier, the paper's publisher, was killed today in the slaughter. It is too bad that he didn't understand the role he played in his tragic death."

Radio host Hugh Hewitt objected to the comments, however, and told Donohue on his show that the Catholic League president's sentiments are "deeply embarrassing to me as a Catholic."

Hewitt added: "You do need a lecture. You do not understand the First Amendment. You have no clue what an embarrassment you are to Catholics."

Donohue argued on Thursday that people do not have a "moral right" to insult the religion of others.

"Let's forget about legalities. As I have said countless times, everyone has a legal right to insult my religion (or the religion of others), but no one has a moral right to do so. Can we please have this conversation, along with what to do about Muslim barbarians who kill because they are offended?" he wrote.

Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly also took issue with Donohue's views, and suggested that the cartoonists would have been protected by First Amendment rights in America to carry on their practice.

Paris shooting
Candles are seen in front of a banner that reads "I am Charlie" during a minute of silence for victims of the shooting at the Paris offices of weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, at the French Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, January 8, 2015. France began a day of mourning for the journalists and police officers shot dead on Wednesday morning by black-hooded gunmen using Kalashnikov assault rifles. |

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