Amatrice, the town hardest hit by the earthquake that struck central Italy on August 24, has filed an aggravated defamation complaint against Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French magazine that published a cartoon depicting the victims of the quake as pasta dishes.

Most of the victims of the quake, 295 in total, were in Amatrice, the birthplace of amatriciana pasta sauce. The cartoon, titled ‘Earthquake, Italian-style’ depicted bloodied victims buried under layers of pasta.

Following the widespread outrage caused by the cartoon, Charlie Hebdo published a second cartoon, saying, “Italians, it’s not Charlie Hebdo that builds Italian homes, it’s the mafia”.

In its suit, the Amatrice town council said that Charlie Hebdo portrayed the quake victims “in such a way as to resemble stereotyped dishes of the Italian culinary tradition,” while the second cartoon “attributed the blame for the devastation of central Italy to the mafia”.

“Criticism, even in the form of satire, is an inviolable right both in Italy and France, but not everything can be ‘satire’ and in this case the two cartoons offend the memory of all the victims of the earthquake, the people who survived and the town of Amatrice,” said Mario Cicchetti, a lawyer for the Amatrice city council.

Charlie Hebdo responded to the complaint saying that it was not scared. “We have done dozens of cartoons like this,” director Riss told Radio France Inter. “It’s one like the others based on black humor. I find all this uproar over a cartoon completely out of proportion.”

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