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CNN Explains Decision to Censor Charlie Hebdo Muslim Cartoons

In the wake of the devastating terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that resulted in the deaths of 12 people, CNN, along with other news outlets, has chosen to censor the controversial cartoons that ran in the magazine.

The decision to censor cartoons, namely those with images that may be offensive to Muslims, sparked outrage on the Internet, with many calling on CNN especially to promote free speech. Wednesday afternoon, the news outlet issued a statement on the controversy.

“As this distressing story continues to evolve we are actively discussing the best way of addressing the key issues and images across all of our platforms,” a CNN spokesman said in a statement. “Those conversations will continue throughout the day and beyond as the story develops.”

Other news outlets, including the New York Daily News, the Telegraph and the Associated Press, have also chosen not to show the cartoons in full.

Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons have a history of controversy, especially those with images of Islamic prophet Muhammad. In 2011, the magazine was fire-bombed after publishing a special issue titled Charia Hebdo with a caricature of Muhammad on the cover.

CNN has aired photos of Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier to show him posing with the magazine, but cropped the image to hide the cartoon.

Many took to Twitter throughout the day Wednesday to express outrage of CNN’s decision.

https://twitter.com/rkylesmith/status/552909986129387521
https://twitter.com/erichippeau/status/552932817416781824
https://twitter.com/IAMMGraham/status/552918090707505152

According to Politico, an internal memo at CNN told employees, “Although we are not at this time showing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Prophet considered offensive by many Muslims, platforms are encouraged to verbally describe the cartoons in detail.” The memo notes certain exceptions, such as if a Parisian is holding a copy of a cartoon in a video, as long as it is shot wide.

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