Charlie Hebdo editor says ‘religion should not be a political argument’

WATCH ABOVE: Gérard Biard, editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, appeared on “Meet the Press” where he talked about the terror attacks on the French magazine.

Gérard Biard, the new editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo – the French satirical magazine targeted by terrorists, defended his publication’s decision to publish a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad following the attacks on its offices earlier this month.

“Every time that we draw a cartoon of Muhammad, every time that we draw a cartoon of a prophet, every time that we draw a cartoon of God, we defend the freedom of thought,” Biard told NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday. “We declare that God must not be a political or public figure. He must be a private one. We defend the freedom of thought … religion should not be a political argument.”

WATCH: Protests continue over Charlie Hebdo’s Prophet Muhammed cartoon. Global’s Mike Drolet reports.

Biard spoke to host Chuck Todd through a translator. It was his first interview since two brothers stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo with automatic weapons on Jan. 7 killing 12 people, including eight magazine staff members, two police officers and an office worker.

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The French weekly’s first front page following the attacks featured a tearful Prophet Muhammad holding a sign reading “Je Suis Charlie.” The new issue sold millions of copies around the world and sparked condemnation from several countries.

READ MORE: Charlie Hebdo cartoonist breaks down as he describes creating front page

Biard addressed the issue of other media outlets that declined to publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons following the Paris shootings.

“When they refuse to publish this cartoon … they blur out democracy, secularism, freedom of religion, and they insult the citizenship,” Biard said.

Todd asked Biard to respond to remarks by Pope Francis who criticized the publication for insulting other people’s faith.

“Religion should not be a political argument,” Biard said. “If faith, if religious arguments step into the political arena, it becomes a totalitarian argument. Secularism protects us against this. Secularism guarantees democracy and assures peace. Secularism allows all believers and all non-believers to live in peace, and that is what we defend.”

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