Saturday 23 September 2017

Paper bombed over Mohammed cartoon

Satirical weekly vows to continue after attack

Henry Samuel in Paris

A petrol bomb attack burned down the offices of the French satirical weekly 'Charlie Hebdo' yesterday after it portrayed the Prophet Mohammed on its front page and named him "guest editor".

The arson attack was denounced across the French political spectrum as an assault on freedom of expression.

The cover of this week's issue, out yesterday, depicted Mohammed saying: "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter." A back page cartoon showed a bearded prophet with a red nose and the caption: "Yes, Islam is compatible with humour."

The magazine is also mockingly renamed "Charia Hebdo" -- a pun on Islamic Sharia law.

The fiercely anticlerical magazine said the move was intended to "celebrate" the victory of Islamist party Ennhada in Tunisia's election, and the inclusion of Sharia in the Libyan constitution.

It's editor-in-chief, Stephane Charbonnier, said: "We no longer have a newspaper. All our equipment has been destroyed."

No one was hurt in the blaze.

The magazine's website was also hacked overnight, with the welcome page replaced by a picture of Mecca full of pilgrims and the words: "No god but Allah."

"We will do everything possible to put out a paper next week. There is no question of giving in to Islamists," said Mr Charbonnier, who noted that the attackers could not have read the offending magazine. "Nobody knows what's in it except those who bought it this morning, that's what's most abhorrent and stupid."

Danish cartoons of Mohammed caused outrage in the Muslim world in 2005 and at least 50 people were killed in the ensuing unrest. 'Charlie Hebdo' was taken to court by Muslims in 2007 for "racial insults" after reprinting the cartoons.

The editor of the time, Philippe Val, was later acquitted. Mr Val was assigned bodyguards for several months, but Mr Charbonnier said that he had taken no precautions ahead of yesterday's publication.

Behind the humour, the magazine's editorial makes a serious point.

"No religion is compatible with democracy from the moment a political party representing it wants to take power in the name of God," it states.

The main representative body of the Muslim faith in France, the French Muslim Council (CFCM), denounced the attack but found fault with the magazine.

"The CFCM deplores the deeply mocking tone of the newspaper towards Islam and its prophet." (© The Daily Telegraph, London)

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