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Instagram apologises for temporarily disabling accounts of Charlie Hebdo staff

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A wreath of flowers outside Charlie Hebdo's former offices in January this year.
A wreath of flowers outside Charlie Hebdo's former offices in January this year.   -   Copyright  Francois Guillot/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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Instagram has apologised for temporarily disabling the accounts of two Charlie Hebdo journalists, who had shared the front page of the magazine with the reproduction of cartoons of the prophet Mohammad.

Journalist Laure Daussy complained on Twitter that her account had been disabled on Sunday, calling it “mind-blowing.”

Her colleague, the cartoonist Coco Boer, replied that the same had happened to her account.

Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, had republished cartoons of Mohammad which had first been published in 2006.

They were cited by Islamic extremists as a reason for the January 2015 terror attack on the magazine’s offices, when 12 employees were murdered and 11 more were injured.

The accounts were quickly restored, with Instagram saying they had been disabled “by mistake.”

"Everything is restored. It is possible that massive reports from the cover may have caused Instagram accounts to be suspended automatically," Coco tweeted later on Sunday.

An Instagram spokesperson said: “These accounts were removed by mistake. We restored them as soon as this was brought to our attention and we're so sorry for any confusion or distress caused.”

"The right to blasphemy cannot be diminished," French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot said on Sunday, when questioned in the Grand Jury RTL-Le Figaro-LCI.

"The right to blasphemy is a right in the secular French Republic: we must fight for it to be respected," she said.

French president Emmanuel Macron also spoke out on Friday in support of Charlie Hebdo, criticising what he called “Islamic separatism” and those who seek French citizenship without accepting France’s “right to commit blasphemy.”

Freedom in France, Macron added, includes “the freedom to believe or not to believe. But this is inseparable from the freedom of expression up to the right to blasphemy.”

Charlie Hebdo reproduced the images, which some Muslims find offensive, on the eve of the trial of those responsible for the January 2015 attacks.