Illustrators resign from the French daily Le Monde in freedom of expression

A leading French cartoonist on Wednesday said he would no longer work for Le Monde after the newspaper apologized for a cartoon he was drawing and handling a sex abuse scandal.

France’s intellectual elite was shaken this month by a claim that political commentator Olivier Duhamel sexually abused his stepson and got social media users to speak out under the hashtag #MeTooInceste.

In a cartoon published in the Le Monde newsletter on Tuesday, Xavier Gorce had reflected on the controversy with a drawing of two penguins.

The smaller penguin asks the other, “If I was abused by the adopted half-brother of my transgender father’s partner who has now become my mother, is it incest?”

In an apology to readers, Le Monde editor-in-chief Caroline Monnot said the cartoon should not have been published.

“This drawing can really be read as a relativization of the seriousness of incest acts, with inappropriate terms against victims and transgender people,” she said.

Some social media users had also accused Gorce of transphobia and mocked the victims of sex abuse.

But he retaliated, writing on Twitter that he had decided to “immediately stop working for Le Monde”.

“It is a personal, one-sided and definitive decision. Freedom cannot be negotiated. My drawings will continue.”

He also published one last cartoon for Le Monde which again showed two penguins – this time both adults – with one asking: “Do you have your health pass for humor?”

Duhamel is under criminal investigation after his stepdaughter Camille Kouchner published the accusations that he abused her twin brother when they were 14 years old.

Freedom of speech and its boundaries have been a burning issue since Islamist armed men massacred staff at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in 2015 after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

A series of attacks by radical Islamists last year prompted President Emmanuel Macron to promise that France would never renounce its right to caricature.