A Molotov cocktail destroyed the Parisian headquarters of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published today an edition spoofing Shariah law. The weekly’s Web site was also hacked.
There was no delay in the response.
Just two days after an announcement made by the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo that it would soon publish a special edition entitled “Charia Hebdo” (a pun on the French word for Shariah law, charia) with the Prophet Muhammad listed as guest editor-in-chief, the Parisian headquarters of the magazine were destroyed by a fire.
The office, which is centrally located in Paris, appeared to have been attacked by a Molotov cocktail sometime early Wednesday morning.
There were no injuries in the fire, but “everything that we use to publish the paper has been burned” said Stéphane Charbonnier, who goes by “Charb” and is the newspaper’s designer and director.
The newspaper’s Web site was also hacked. As of Wednesday morning, the home page showed an image of the Grand Mosque in Mecca accompanied by the phrase “No god but Allah.”
There was also a message written in Turkish and English stating “For Islam” and denouncing the use of the Prophet’s image, which is against Muslim beliefs.
For Charb, there is no question of the reason for these attacks: they are retaliation to the “Charia Hebdo” publication announced on Monday.
The satirical newspaper envisaged this edition in reaction to the victory of the Islamist party Ennahda in Tunisia last week as well as the proclamation of Islamic law in Libya.
“We received threats, but no one had seen this edition,” Charb said after the fire. “People reacted violently to the paper yet they were completely ignorant of the edition’s contents; that is what is the most aberrant and the most idiotic.”
“Despite everything, the ‘Charia Hebdo’ will still be on newsstands [today],” he said.
Patrick Pelloux, a Charlie Hebdo columnist and emergency room doctor, agreed.
“It isn’t an anti-Muslim newspaper [but] a newspaper that says we can laugh at everything,” he said. “It is the best proof of liberty and democracy.”
“100 Lashes if You Don’t Die Laughing!”
The front page of the newspaper, unveiled Monday, shows a design representing a visibly happy Prophet Muhammad and the words “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing!”
This edition also includes an “editorial from Muhammad” entitled “Halal Happy Hour,” a two-page spread of cartoons explaining “la charia molle” and a supplement entitled “Charia Madame.” On the last page, which is entitled “Coverage You Have Missed,” a carton depicts Prophet Muhammad wearing a red clown’s nose with the captioon “Yes, Islam is compatible with humor.”
Since Monday, when the front page began to circulate on social networks, this edition has incited numerous comments.
Many critics responded on Twitter, accusing the newspaper of provocation.
“We don’t feel that we did any supplementary provocation,” said the director of the publication. “We simply felt as if we were doing our work as usual. The only difference is that this week, we are talking about Muhammad, which is a pretty rare subject to cover.”
Charlie Hebdo appeared before a tribunal to respond to caricatures of Prophet Muhammad published in February 2006. These caricatures were considered insulting by several Islamic organizations.
French courts discharged the paper, but the publication of these cartoons in Danish newspapers as well as across Europe spurred violent protests in a number of Muslim countries. Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist of the most controversial caricature, was the subject of an attack by an intruder armed with an ax.