- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Vatican’s semi-official daily newspaper condemned French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo for its portrayal of God as an assassin in a special edition marking the one-year anniversary of a terror attack on the publication.

A million copies of the issue are set to hit France’s newsstands on Wednesday with a cover featuring a bearded man representing God with a Kalashnikov slung over his shoulder, the Agence France-Presse reported.

“One year on: The murderer is still out there,” the cover reads.

In a commentary, the Vatican paper Osservatore Romano said: “Behind the deceptive flag of uncompromising secularism, the weekly is forgetting once more what religious leaders of every faith unceasingly repeat to reject violence in the name of religion — using God to justify hatred is a genuine blasphemy, as Pope Francis has said several times.”

“In Charlie Hebdo’s choice, there is the sad paradox of a world which is more and more sensitive about being politically correct, almost to the point of ridicule, yet does not wish to acknowledge or to respect believers’ faith in God, regardless of the religion,” it added.

The special edition will mark a year since two Islamic terrorists burst into Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters in eastern Paris and mowed down 12 people, including eight of the magazine’s employees, in retaliation for its satirical depictions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

A week after the Jan. 7 attack, Pope Francis condemned killing in God’s name but warned against insulting religion, AFP reported.

“If a good friend speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched, and that’s normal,” the pope said at the time. “You cannot provoke, you cannot insult other people’s faith, you cannot mock it.”

Included in the special edition will be a collection of cartoons by the five Charlie Hebdo artists killed in the attack.

Cartoonist Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, who was wounded in the attack and took over management of the publication in the aftermath, wrote an editorial in the special edition defending secularism. He denounced “fanatics brutalized by the Koran” as well as those from other religions who hoped for the death of the magazine for “daring to laugh at the religious,” the Guardian reported.

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