French Satire Newspaper ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Hit by Arson after Prophet Mohammed Issue
The offices of a satirical French newspaper have been set ablaze after a tongue-in-cheek issue that featured the Islamic prophet Mohammed as a ‘guest editor.’
According to CBS News, the Paris-based paper, the Charlie Hebdo, was struck by arson in the early hours of Wednesday morning, just hours before the current issue would have hit newsstands. Police say a witness saw someone throwing two firebombs at the building.
Because of the hour of the crime, no one was injured.
Charlie Hebdo’s director, who calls himself Charb, blamed “radical stupid people who don’t know what Islam is” for the attack. “I think that they are themselves unbelievers… idiots who betray their own religion,” he told the Associated Press.
The offending issue, subtitled Sharia Hebdo, was adorned with a cartoon depiction of the prophet Mohammed threatening “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.”
That’s a big no-no in Islam, a religion in which depictions of the prophet are strictly forbidden.
Those who have dared to illustrate Mohammed have found themselves on the receiving end of the wrath of infuriated Muslims before. Who can forget the deadly backlash against the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten after it published a series of editorial cartoons featuring the Muslim prophet in 2005? In one of those cartoons, Kurt Westergaard drew the prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb– he received death threats and had to be placed under constant police protection.
French authorities have vowed to find whoever is responsible for the arson. “If some think they can impose their way of thinking on the Republic… they are mistaken,” declared Interior Minister Claude Gueant. “They will be fought.”
“Freedom of expression is an inalienable value of our democracy,” Prime Minister Francois Fillon said. “No cause can justify a violent action,” he added.
Leading French Muslims condemned the arson but also what they perceive as the mocking of their holiest human figure. Mohammed Moussaoui, who leads the French Council for the Muslim Faith,” said that organization deplores “the very mocking tone of the paper toward Islam and its prophet but reaffirms with force its total opposition to all acts and all forms of violence.”
There are over five million Muslims in France out of a total population of nearly 65 million people, making the nation home to more Muslims than anywhere else in Western Europe.
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