French Satirical Newspaper Firebombed After Prophet Mohammed Announcement

Henry Samuel, Telegraph (London), November 2, 2011

The offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo have been destroyed by a petrol bomb, a day after it named the Prophet Mohammed as its “editor-in-chief” for this week’s issue.

The fiercely anti-clerical magazine said the move, which included renaming the publication “Sharia Hebdo”, was intended to “celebrate” the victory of Islamist party Ennhada in Tunisia’s election.

Charlie Hedbo’s editor-in-chief, known as Charb, told France Info radio: “We no longer have a newspaper. All our equipment has been destroyed or has melted.”

No injuries have been reported

A single Molotov cocktail was thrown at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris’s 20th arrondissement at around 1am. The ensuing fire was rapidly put out, but a large amount of material in the office was destroyed, police said.

“We cannot, today, put together a paper,” said Charb. “But we will do everything possible to do one next week. Whatever happens, we’ll do it. There is no question of giving in,” he said, adding that the magazine is filing a legal complaint against persons unkown.

According to Europe 1 radio, police are searching for two suspects seen near the scene.

Charlie Hebdo’s website has also been hacked with a message in English and Turkish cursing the magazine.

The message said: “You keep abusing Islam’s almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech.

“Be God’s curse upon you!”

Editor Charb said the attackers could not even have read the offending magazine.

“The arsonists haven’t read this paper, nobody knows what’s in the paper except those who buy it this morning. People are reacting violently to a paper without knowing anything of its contents, that’s what’s most abhorrent and stupid,” he told BFM TV.

The publication, historically famous for pillorying Catholic clericalism, was criticised by Muslims in 2007 after reprinting the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammad that caused outrage around the Islamic world.

Charb said the magazine had received “quite a few letters of protest, threats, insults” on Twitter and Facebook before the attack, but not as many as in 2007.

Ennahda won the most seats in Tunisia’s October elections and is now trying to form a coalition caretaker government.It has promised to work with more liberal parties, and respect gender equality.

“To fittingly celebrate the victory of the Islamist Ennahda party in Tunisia . . . Charlie Hebdo has asked Mohammed to be the special editor-in-chief of its next issue”, the magazine said in a statement.

“The prophet of Islam didn’t have to be asked twice and we thank him for it,” the statement said.

The cover of this week’s issue, out on Wednesday, shows Mohammed saying: “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter”.

It also includes an editorial by the Prophet entitled Halal Aperitif and a women’s supplement called Madam Sharia.

Behind the humour, the editorial’s message is serious: “No religion is compatible with democracy from the moment a political party representing it wants to take power in the name of God”.

“What would be the point of a religious party taking power if it didn’t apply its ideas,” it goes on. “Hello, we are the Bolchevik party and if you vote for us we promise never to speak of Communism…Come on.”

French politicians and religious leaders were swift to condemn the attack.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, minister of economy, said: “Those who did this designate themselves as enemies of democracy.”

“You don’t negotiate the freedom of the press with bombs . . . If you are not happy with what’s in a newspaper, you take it to court.”

Xavier Bertrand, the labour minister, said he was “deeply shocked” while Jean-François Copé, head of the ruling conservative UMP party said if the fire was linked to this week’s issue, “it serves as a reminder of what kind of acts can be committed by fundamentalists who manipulate religion for political ends”.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, presidential candidate for the leftist Front de Gauche party called the attack “repulsive”, and called on the French “to the have the intellectual discipline not to confuse a handful of imbeciles, numbskulls who will severely punished, I hope, with the vast majority of our Muslim compatriots who practice their faith perfectly calmly”.

“Blasphemy doesn’t exist as a crime, this is the French Republic; that’s the law (on freedom of the press),” he said.

Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM), said he “firmly condemned” the arson attack if it proved criminal.

The CFCM lost a court case against Charlie Hebdo in 2006 for re-printing Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed but denounced “the apology of violent Muslims”.

He said this issue was “not on the same level” of provocation, but added: “The very fact of caricaturing the Prophet is considered an offense to Muslims”.

Topics:

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Anonymous

    Nice catch, AmRen. Was hoping someone would pick up on this one today.

    My only question was since it was pretty clear what might happen after the cartoon was printed, why didn’t the newspaper have security there watching the office? At least put up ten new security cameras? How was this a surprise to anyone?

  • Bill R

    Clueless liberals. Their own worst enemy. In this instance, I find it a form of poetic justice. And a teaching moment for the knucklehead. Now tell us Islam is the religion of peace, and that all religions are the same, fella. How’s that working for you NOW.

  • Tim in Indiana

    How about this classic example of French logic:

    “You don’t negotiate the freedom of the press with bombs … If you are not happy with what’s in a newspaper, you take it to court.”

    If you’re not happy with it, you don’t simply refuse to read it, you take it to court! Nice.

  • Fred from France

    Charlie Hebdo is the worst French leftist rag. Many cartoons are extremely vulgar and they show an obsession for anal sex. The only American they like is Michael Moore.

    Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, minister of economy, said: … If you are not happy with what’s in a newspaper, you take it to court.”

    It works very well. French laws against free speech were just made for that by the communist representative Jean-Claude Gayssot. Our freedom of speech is very selective.

  • Anonymous

    Jean-Luc Melenchon, presidential candidate for the leftist Front de Gauche party called the attack “repulsive”, and called on the French “to the have the intellectual discipline not to confuse a handful of imbeciles, numbskulls who will severely punished, I hope, with the vast majority of our Muslim compatriots who practice their faith perfectly calmly”.

    The vast majority of our Muslim compatriots practice their faith perfectly calmly, do they? I assume you have some figures on that? Figures that run contrary to the usual polls of Muslims — in France, Britain, and even the US — which routinely indicate that the majority of Muslims in our countries would like to see our democratic-secular traditions overthrown and replaced with Sharia? Does this leftist politician have a leg to stand on, or is he merely basing his beneficent assessment on nothing more than PC wishful thinking?

    If not, then “Charlie Hebdo today; Front de Gauche party headquarters tomorrow.” Count on it, mon ami.

    Because it’s going to take a lot more than moralistic condemnations and airy-fairy invocations of “freedom of the press” to stop the Islamic steamroller that the Multicultists have set in motion in France… and many other places.

  • Jeddermann.

    This Charb is in real trouble and it is not just his paper they are after. He will be next and he just seems not to realize it. Next week it will not the paper it will be his head.

  • Big Bill

    Charlie Hebdo made his point: he is a tough macho newspaper. The Muslims made their point: they will burn out or kill whoever they have to.

    Charlie Hebdo will now return to his regularly scheduled programming bashing Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, and will henceforth leave the Muslims alone.

    I score this as Muslims 1, Christians 0, since the Muslims get another newspaper (Charlie Hebdo) that will henceforth work for the Muslim cause and limit its bashing to Evil Infidel Crusaders (aka the French) and the Muslims don’t even have to pay for it!

  • Buridan

    Moussaoui, the president of the Conseil Français du Culte Musulman “condemns firmly the fire, if its criminal character is confirmed”. The police declared that it was made by a cocktail molotov. So, Moussaoui insinuates that the journalists of Charlie Hebdo threw themselves the cocktail molotov, or that the French police lied (to accuse the muslims), or that the French police was so idiot as to be unable to recognize a cocktail molotov. And the French authorities regularly discuss with this guy… He received the Légion d’honneur at the begining of this year. Marine Le Pen, save us.

  • Question Diversity

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but during the Mohammed Cartoons controversy a few years ago, PJB sided with the Islamists.