The attack against the offices of the French satirical magazine, “Charlie Hebdo,” has been unanimously condemned in France.
The front-page of the latest issue, subtitled “Sharia Hebdo,” a reference to Islamic law, showed a cartoon-like man with a turban, white robe and beard smiling and saying in an accompanying bubble, “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.”
The magazine also “invited” the Prophet Muhammad to be its guest editor for the week.
The offices of the magazine were firebombed with Molotov cocktails early on Nov. 2. Computer hackers also posted pictures of a mosque on Charlie Hebdo’s website with the words: “There is no god besides Allah.”
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon called for an investigation into the attack and said those responsible would be prosecuted. The country’s interior minister, Claude Gueant, expressed support for the magazine, saying, “(f)reedom of expression is sacred” in France.
The mayor of Paris and other French publications have offered to provide the magazine staff with temporary office space.
Also condemning the attack was the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe. Dunja Mijatovic, a spokesman for the group, said, “(r)egardless of the motives, attacks against the media and journalists are intolerable.”
Freedom of expression, he added, represents a pillar of “democratic and open societies.”
The firebombing was also denounced by the French Muslim Council, who at the same time expressed disappointment that the magazine chose to poke fun at Islam and its leader. However, the organization “strongly reaffirmed its total opposition to any act or form of violence.”
The head of the French Association of Imans, Tareq Oubrou, denounced the arson attack as well and urged Muslims not to give in to “provocations.”
“I personally call on Muslims to keep an open mind and to not take this too seriously,” he said in a television interview.
In 2005, the decision by a Danish magazine to publish cartoons mocking Muhammad unleashed a wave of violence in the Muslim world, leaving over 50 people dead.
A former director of “Charlie Hebdo,” Philippe Val, was investigated by French officials after reprinting the cartoons in 2006. He was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.