The cartoon shows the half-hidden, grimacing face of the Prophet Muhammad, saying, "It's tough to be loved by idiots."
In a joint statement published alongside the cartoon, the French-language newspapers explained they wanted to honour the victims of the Paris shootings and show their support for the “fundamental principle of freedom of expression.”
“Attacking someone simply for their ideas and opinions is an unacceptable affront to democracy,” the statement said.
Philosophy of respect
Lucinda Chodan, editor-in-chief of the Montreal Gazette, said her newspaper’s parent company, Postmedia, has a long-standing policy against publishing depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.
“It isn’t political correctness or cowardice. It’s based on a philosophy of respect towards the Muslim faith,” she told Mike Finnerty, the host of the CBC morning show, Daybreak, on Thursday.
Chodan added, however, that she supports her “colleagues in the francophone press who published the cartoon.”
“Of course, we also support Charlie Hebdo,” she said.
The Gazette showed that support with a rare banner headline in French, "Nous sommes tous Charlie," which translates into, "We are all Charlie."
Denise Bombardier, a columnist for Le Devoir, said she’s proud of the province’s French-language newspapers.
“It says something about political correctness and about courage,” she told CBC Daybreak.
“I’m sad that The Gazette refused to do this, because I think that this is the war of the 21st century, and if we don’t react the way we did in our newspapers this morning, and in many newspapers around the world and in Europe, then this war is lost.”
Story Continues After Slideshow
The French-language newspapers that published the cartoon are Le Devoir, Le Journal de Montréal, Le Journal de Québec, 24 Heures, La Presse, Le Soleil, Le Quotidien, Le Droit, La Tribune, La Voix de l’Est, Le Nouveliste and Métro.
'It isn't censorship,' says CBC's David Studer
CBC News has decided not to publish cartoons from Charlie Hebdo featuring the Prophet Muhammad.
“This is not a ban, and it isn't censorship,” David Studer, CBC's director of Journalistic Standards and Practices, said in an email on Wednesday, reminding news staff of CBC's long-established policy.
“We are being consistent with our historic journalistic practices around this story, not because of fear but out of respect for the beliefs and sensibilities of the mass of Muslim believers about images of the Prophet. Similarly, we wouldn't publish cartoons likely to dismay or outrage mainstream followers of other religions.”