The Associated Press has removed a photo of an art piece called "Piss Christ" from its page after coming under fire for refusing to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking Muhammad, the Muslim prophet, following Wednesday's terrorist attack.
On Wednesday, three masked gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo offices in central Paris, killing twelve people. Among those murdered were the editor and several cartoonists for the satirical publication, known for its controversial depictions of religious figures, including Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. The attackers reportedly yelled "We have avenged the prophet Muhammad" and "Allah is Great" in Arabic, reports BBC.
In an interview with The Daily Beast following the attack, an AP spokesperson explained why the company did not publish images of Charlie Hebdo cartoons when covering the story.
"It's been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images," the spokesman said.
Later that day, Timothy Carney of The Washington Examiner pointed out the AP's hypocrisy, noting that the website had a photo of "Piss Christ" up on its page. The image, which was photographed by Andres Serrano in 1989, is offensive to many Christians, as it depicts a crucifix in a urine-filled jar.
A short time later, the AP pulled the image of "Piss Christ," replacing it with a note that reads, "Oops! This image is not part of your portfolio. Please contact customer support."
In an interview with Politico after the photo was removed, an AP spokesperson explained that the site has changed its policies since 1989, the year that the photo of "Piss Christ" was taken.
"It is fair to say we have revised and reviewed our policies since 1989," the spokesperson said.
Other major news outlets, including CNN, the New York Daily News and the Telegraph, also censored, or refused to publish the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons following the attack, sparking outrage across the internet.
"Islamist terror has won. CNN, Telegraph, Daily News, AP Censor Charlie Hebdo Cartoons ," tweeted Kyle Smith.
"Coward's News Network:" CNN refuses to show cartoons "offensive to Muslims", even when they're the lead news story," wrote a Twitter user named Michael Graham.
Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon, one of the news sources which chose to publish the images, added, "I think to decide not to show them even after those people were killed is essentially caving to the fanatical demands of the people who went in and shot up that office."
"Piss Christ" was previously the subject of massive controversy in the United States, and was vandalized by Catholic protesters when it was on display in France in 2011.