NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Friday, January 16, 2015, 12:06 AM
Pope Francis speaks on a flight from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Manila in the Philippines Thursday.
Don’t expect to see Pope Francis proclaiming, “I am Charlie.”
The Holy Father said Thursday there are limits to freedom of expression, warning that anyone who hurls insults should expect retaliation.
The Pope’s provocative statement was in reference to last week’s terror attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
“One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith,” he said. “There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity … in freedom of expression, there are limits.”
In making his case, Francis offered a colorful hypothetical: How he would react if his aide Alberto Gasparri cursed at his mother.
“If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” Francis said, throwing a pretend punch at Gasparri. “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”
The Pope waded into the debate over freedom of speech during an in-flight news conference on his way to the Philippines as part of a weeklong tour of Asia.
Before leaving for the trip, Francis sharply condemned the slaying of 12 Charlie Hebdo cartoonists by a pair of sibling terrorists.
A total of 17 people were killed in the three-day massacre. The Islamic extremists who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack — Cherif and Said Kouachi — were shot dead by police.
A third man with ties to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Amedy Coulibaly, was also killed after storming a kosher deli.
The slogan, “I am Charlie,” was embraced by free speech supporters across the world in the wake of the attacks.
Speaking Thursday, Francis emphasized that the Charlie Hebdo slaughter was by no means justified.
“Each person not only has the freedom but also the obligation to say what he thinks in the name of the common good,” Francis said.
“No one can kill in the name of God,” he added. “This is an aberration.”
Magazine co-founder Henri Roussel went further, writing in the Nouvel Obs magazine that the murdered editor Stephane Charbonnier was a “stubborn blockhead” who “dragged the team” to their deaths by putting cartoons of Muhammad on the cover.
That provoked a furious response from Charlie Hebdo’s longtime lawyer.
“Charb has not yet even been buried and Obs finds nothing better to do than to publish a polemical and venomous piece on him,” Richard Malka wrote.
The bitter back-and-forth came as three slain staffers — and a police officer who died trying to protect them — were buried.