The chief editor of Charlie Hebdo is defending the magazine's controversial depictions of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, claiming that cartoon parodies of religious figures actually safeguard freedom of religion.
Gérard Biard, in an interview with Chuck Todd that will air in full on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, said through a translator that the cartoons ensure freedom of religion because they "declare that God must not be a political or public figure, but instead must be a private one."
Biard, in his first interview with an American television network since the Paris terror attack, had been asked by Todd to respond to comments from Pope Francis. The pontiff said Thursday that "in freedom of expression there are limits." He said that freedom of faith was a fundamental human right, and that "one cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith."
The editor told Todd that "religion should not be a political argument." He said if religion enters the "political arena, it becomes a totalitarian argument. Secularism protects us against this, secularism guarantees democracy and assures peace. Secularism allows all believers and not-believers to live in peace and that is what we defend."
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— Elisha Fieldstadt
Editor's Note: During the interview with Gérard Biard, the chief editor of Charlie Hebdo, there was a mistranslation of the term "liberté de conscience." In many of the places where "freedom of religion" is heard in English, the correct translation should be "freedom of thought" or "freedom of conscience."