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Charlie Hebdo’s Offices Firebombed for Printing Cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed

Posted on the 02 November 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Charlie Hebdo’s offices firebombed for printing cartoon of the prophet Mohammed

Another cover of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo

Four years ago, in 2007, Charlie Hebdo decided to reproduce the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten first printed.  At the time Charlie Hebdo was sued for incitement to racism by two Muslim organisations; but was acquitted.

The magazine named this week’s issue – which had the Prophet Muhammad as Editor-in-Chief – “Charia Hebdo”. It also printed a caricature of Muhammad on the cover saying “100 lashes if you are not dying of laughter”, as well as one of the prophet with a clown’s nose, and an editorial attributed to him called Halal Aperitif. There was a women’s supplement, entitled “Madam Sharia”. (This is all a bit more risky than The New Statesman naming Jemima Khan as Associate Editor).

The office of the magazine has been destroyed by a petrol bomb, a single Molotov cocktail hurled through the window of the paper’s offices, destroying all their equipment. Two suspects were seen in the area. According to Le Monde, the magazine’s website was also hacked, and replaced with a picture of the mosque at Mecca along with abusive messages.  The magazine claims the issue was pointed at an Islamic party’s victory in the Tunisian elections last month. The magazine’s publisher, Charb, was quoted by AFP (and printed in The Times) as saying “We feel we’re just doing our job as usual. The only difference is that this week, Muhammad is on the cover and that’s quite rare.”

“You keep abusing Islam’s almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech. Be God’s curse upon you!” said the message on Charlie Hebdo‘s hacked website, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Not at all funny? Ahmed Dabi, a leading French Muslim rights campaigner, was quoted in The Daily Mail: ‘For a start the jokes are not funny, but the magazine is also deliberately trying to provoke anger and unhappiness against Muslims.”  But the president of the Muslim Council of France, Mohammed Moussaoui, said that he condemned the attacks, according to Le Figaro.

But it’s not Islamaphobic? However, according to Causeur magazine, he also said that humor has its limits, as does freedom of expression. Causeur said that it recognised that kind of argument – it’s the same used against raped women – they asked for it. That kind of argument simply encourages enemies of freedom. It’s a problem that faces France – the magazine displayed a poster which claimed that Islamaphobia was rife.

Charlie Hebdo’s offices firebombed for printing cartoon of the prophet Mohammed

France is a secular state. The French newspaper Liberation rounded up some political reactions. The Minister of the Interior, Claude Guéant, said that all the French should feel sympathy for Charlie Hebdo, which is a magazine that expresses by its very existence the freedom of the press, which is a sacred freedom in France. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the Ecology minister, said that those who had thrown the bombs were enemies of democracy; Xavier Bertrand, the Minister of Transport and Health, said that the act was repugnant. The editor of Liberation has offered their offices to Charlie Hebdo.

Not racist? Blog reactions were vehement. Harry’s Place said that the magazine was right to point out the rise of Islamism in Tunisia by ridiculing the politics of the Far Right – it’s in keeping with their “360 degree irreverence.” They’re certainly not being bigoted, or racist.

But they should have expected it. They were playing with fire, said Forbidden Planet, and should have known what sort of reaction to expect. However, though it was “ill-advised”, it’s ridiculous for a newspaper to be attacked in this way. Let’s hope the magazine gets back on its feet again, as soon as possible.

Charlie Hebdo’s offices firebombed for printing cartoon of the prophet Mohammed

The hacked website of Charlie Hebdo, featuring Mecca and messages in Turkish and English

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