Cartoonist lambastes Charlie's 'new friends'

In Nice, a woman holds a French flag and a placard reading "I am Charlie" during in a silent procession for victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. (Lionel Cironneau, AP)
In Nice, a woman holds a French flag and a placard reading "I am Charlie" during in a silent procession for victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. (Lionel Cironneau, AP)

The Hague - A prominent Dutch cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo heaped scorn on the French satirical weekly's "new friends" since the massacre at its Paris offices, in particular far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen.

"We have a lot of new friends, like the pope, Queen Elizabeth and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. It really makes me laugh," Bernard Holtrop, whose pen name is Willem, told the Dutch centre-left daily Volkskrant.

"Marine Le Pen is delighted when the Islamists start shooting all over the place," said Willem, 73, a longtime Paris resident who also draws for the French leftist daily Liberation.

He added: "We vomit on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends."

Commenting on the global outpouring of support for the weekly, Willem scoffed: "They've never seen Charlie Hebdo."

"A few years ago, thousands of people took to the streets in Pakistan to demonstrate against Charlie Hebdo. They didn't know what it was. Now it's the opposite, but if people are protesting to defend freedom of speech, naturally that's a good thing."

Willem was on a train between northwestern Lorient and Paris when he learned of Wednesday's attack by two Islamist gunmen as the paper was holding its weekly editorial meeting.

He told Liberation: "I never come to the editorial meetings because I don't like them. I guess that saved my life."

Willem stressed that Charlie Hebdo must continue to publish. "Otherwise, [the Islamists] have won."

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