Charlie Hebdo cartoonist wins top comic award

A youngster's tale of life torn between France and the Middle East by a Charlie Hebdo contributor scooped the top award at one of the world's biggest comics festivals in France on Sunday.

The Angouleme festival, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city in southwestern France, was this year dedicated to the murdered cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo magazine.

The town was full of tributes to the satirical cartoonists killed in a jihadist attack last month, with one of the town's squares renamed "Place de Charlie". A new "Charlie Hebdo award for freedom of expression" was also inaugurated on Sunday, this year going to the magazine itself.

The four-day festival climaxed on Sunday with its top prize — for best book of the year — going to "The Arab of the Future: a childhood in the Middle East" by Riad Sattouf, a funny and moving look at life in France and under the dictatorships of Libya and Syria in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Sattouf, who is half-French and half-Syrian, has also featured regularly in Charlie Hebdo with a series called "The Secret Life of Youngsters". 

The festival's lifetime achievement award was given on Thursday to Katsuhiro Otomo, creator of the cult Japanese series Akira — the first manga cartoonist to win the prize.

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Fury over Charlie Hebdo Italy quake cartoon

A Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting victims of the Italian earthquake victims as lasagna has sparked outrage in the country which is still mourning the nearly 300 people who died in last week's tragedy.

Fury over Charlie Hebdo Italy quake cartoon
The French embassy in Rome immediately issued a statement saying the carton ‘in no way’ represents France’s position. Photo: Mario Laporta, AFP

“The drawings are repugnant,” said Italian Justice Minister Andrea Orlando,as furious reactions began flooding social media sites.

“I don't think its useful to comment further as I think that would produce precisely the sought after effect…  that is to create a scandal,” and draw attention to the cartoons, he added.

The drawings in the current edition of the French satirical weekly depict bloodied victims of the quake.

The words “penne tomato sauce” appear above a picture of a bloodied and bandaged man, while a woman with burns is described as “penne gratin”.

To their right, a pile of bodies under layers of rubble is titled lasagne”.

The cartoons are captioned “Earthquake Italian style”.

The quake struck central Italy on August 24, with the small town of Amatrice bearing the brunt. The town is the home of the all'amatriciana pasta dish.

Italian Senate leader Pietro Grasso said that he respected “the freedom of satire and of irony,” but added that “I am free to say that all this is disgusting”.

Charlie Hebdo's offices in Paris were the scene of a deadly jihadist attackin January last year.

Jihadist brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi gunned down eight Charlie staff as well as several others in and around their building in the attack on the magazine whose drawings of Mohammed drew furious reactions from Muslims worldwide.

There was a wave of international sympathy for the magazine and its staff after that attack.

The French embassy in Rome issued a statement on the quake drawings Friday, saying that “the Charlie Hebdo cartoon in no way represents France's position”.