“Pope Francis has defended freedom of expression following last week’s attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo – but also stressed its limits.
“The pontiff said religion has to be treated with respect, so that people’s faiths were not insulted or ridiculed. To illustrate this point, he told journalists that his assistant could expect a punch if he cursed his mother.
“The remarks came as funerals were held for four people killed in the attack by militant Islamists. Friends and family paid last respects to cartoonists Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac, known as Tignous, as well as policeman Franck Brinsolaro and columnist Elsa Cayat.
“Eight magazine staff, a visitor to the magazine, a caretaker and two policemen died in the attack. A policewoman and four people at a kosher supermarket died in separate attacks.
““If my good friend Doctor Gasparri (who organizes the Pope’s trips) speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched,“ he said, throwing a pretend punch at the doctor, who was standing beside him.
““You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. There is a limit,” the pope stated.
“In a separate development, the French government announced that the Malian employee of the Jewish supermarket that was attacked would be given French citizenship. Some 300,000 people signed an online petition calling for the move after the Muslim employee, Lassana Bathily, hid several customers from the gunman in a cold store.
However, President Hollande didn’t seem too happy about it: “I know I said that anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic acts should be condemned and punished when during my speech at the Arab World Institute, but this is the exact opposite. I mean, what are we supposed to do now, hand out citizenships to every foreigner who does something nice for the French?,” he said to Newslo.
In the exclusive interview, the President further stated: “I’m aware of what the pope said about the freedom of speech and hurting others just because they believe in a different God. I completely agree with him when it comes to normal people. But, since he seems to be referring to what happened in Paris last week, I’d like to see him give out Vatican citizenships to Muslim terrorists and members of Al-Qaeda. Then I might just listen to what he has to say,” Hollande concluded.