Art Spiegelman
Art Spiegelman Reuters

The American creator of "Maus," a graphic novel about the Holocaust, has denounced the "hypocrisy" of US media for refusing to republish the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo magazine, which was targeted in a bloody Islamist terror attack last week that left 12 dead.

Art Spiegelman said he "admires" Charlie Hebdo and thought the satirical magazine fulfilled its "mission" of exercising free speech in 2006 by publishing a controversial caricature of Mohammed.

"I think it's so hypocritical to drape yourself in freedom of speech and then self censor yourself to the point where you are not making your readers understand the issues," Spiegelman told AFP during a visit to Beijing.

"That cartoon was not making fun of the prophet, it was excoriating the believers who would kill," he pointed out.

Spiegelman's critically-acclaimed "Maus" depicts his father's experience during the Holocaust, casting Jews as the mice of the title and
Nazis as cats, and is the only comic book to have won a Pulitzer Prize.

While many media outlets republished several front-page cartoons in the wake of an attack that left 12 dead, among them some of Charlie Hebdo's top cartoonists, some of the largest US newspapers, including the New York Times, refused to do so, for fear of offending Muslims.

"We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well: that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire. Most of these are gratuitous insult," Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, said according to a blog post written by the public editor Margaret Sullivan.

Mocking what he called the "mega-fanatic zeal to be polite" in the American press, Spiegelman said that Charlie Hebdo had not sought to hurt Muslims by publishing cartoons of Mohammed, pointing out that the paper printed caricatures of the Pope and Jews as well.

"When religion overlaps with social and political issues, it's necessary to fight back, so Charlie is equally hard on Jews including anti-Semitic caricatures and quotes when talking about Israel," he said. "The equal opportunity insult that came with Charlie Hebdo was the reason it's estimable."

AFP contributed to this report.