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Culture

French satirical magazine publishes comic book of Prophet Mohammed

media The editor of Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier, says the comic book … Afp/Fred Dufour

A French satirical magazine whose offices were firebombed after it published cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed has published a comic book biography of Islam's founder.

The editor of Charlie Hebdo weekly has insisted that the new book, titled "The Life of Mohammed", is a properly researched and educational work prepared by a Franco-Tunisian sociologist.

"It is a biography authorised by Islam since it was edited by Muslims," said Stephane Charbonnier, who was also the illustrator of the book whose front page shows the prophet leading a camel through the desert.

Charbonnier told RFI no one really knows about the Prophet.

"We hear about him all the time, and we don’t always have the best impression of him. So we decided to tell his life – his real life. I would like those people who make use of the concept of Mohammed - sometimes without knowing what he’s all about – to read this book," he said.

Muslims believe depicting the Prophet Mohammed is sacrilegious.

Charbonnier said the idea for the comic book came to him in 2006 when a newspaper in Denmark published cartoons of Mohammed, later republished by Charlie Hebdo, that sparked angry protests across the Muslim world.

"There are comic books about Jesus. And Islam is the second religion of France. So it’s too bad if we can’t treat Islam like any other religion, for the better or the worse," he said.

There was little initial reaction on Wednesday to the new comic book, which goes on sale for six euros.

But on Monday a senior political advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the work as a deliberate provocation.

"To transform the life of the prophet of Islam into a cartoon is in itself a mistake," Ibrahim Kalin wrote on his Twitter account.

"Whatever the people at Charlie Hebdo say, this is a provocation."

Charlie Hebdo has on several occasions published cartoon versions of Islam's prophet in a declared effort to defend free speech, to the fury of many Muslims.

In September it published cartoons of a naked Mohammed as violent protests were taking place in several countries over a low-budget film made in the United States that insults the prophet.

In 2011 Charlie Hebdo's offices were hit by a firebomb and its website pirated after publishing an edition titled "Charia Hebdo" featuring several Mohammed cartoons.

Charbonnier, who has received death threats, lives under police protection.

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