Charlie Hebdo, the French weekly known for publishing satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and enraging much of the Muslim world, said Sunday that it plans to release a comic book biography of Islam’s founder that will be strictly educational.
The weekly often depicts Islam’s prophet using caricatures and parodies in an effort to defend free speech and defy the anger of Muslims who believe depicting Mohammed visually is sacrilegious.
The series, entitled "Muhammad's Life," will be “an Islamically authorized biography because it is being written by Muslim commentators,” said the weekly's publisher, known only as Charb.
“The only thing we are doing is transferring the text to images,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think that “higher Muslim minds could find anything inappropriate” with the content.
The biography will be published Wednesday and was put together by a Franco-Tunisian researcher known only as Zineb, Charb said, according to AFP.
The publisher 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, drawing angry protests across the Muslim world.
“Before having a laugh about a character, it’s better to know him. As much as we know about the life of Jesus, we know nothing about Mohammed,” Charb said.
In September the weekly added fuel to fire by publishing cartoons of a naked Mohammed, which further enraged the Muslim world, where violent protests continued to spread over the low-budget film “Innocence of Muslims," which similarly mocked the prophet of Islam.
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, deemed blasphemous by Muslims.
Charb, who has received death threats, lives under police protection.