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Offices of French Satirical Magazine Charlie Hebdo Firebombed for Planning to Publish a Cartoon About the Prophet Mohammed

11/02/2011

Cartoon by CRNI Affiliate Leader Kianoush Ramezani condemning the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo

The BBC, The New York Times and a number of French papers (among many others) report this morning of a firebombing attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.  The magazine issue in question was going to feature a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed on the cover and a satirical editorial penned by the Prophet Mohammed.  The issue in question had not even been published nor distributed.  The public had not yet seen the cartoon that the magazine was about to publish.  As the Editor-in-Chief of Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier, explained in an interview with the BBC, the extremists took their action based on rumors.

Click on Satirical Magazine is Firebombed to read The New York Times article dated November 2, 2011.  Click on French Satirical Paper Charlie Hebdo Attacked in Paris to hear the BBC interview and to read the accompanying story also dated November 2, 2011.  In the BBC interview Charbonnier points out that, "This is the action of idiot extremists and certainly not the majority of Muslims living in Europe." The editor went on to say that this magazine issue was intended to bring attention to the fact that the Arab Spring revolution in a number of countries seems to be at risk of being hijacked by Islamic based political parties.  This is the case in Tunisia and seems to be the case now in Libya as well.

Cartoonists Rights Network International Executive Director Robert Russell said in an interview, "Attacking the magazine's facilities because of a rumor and not an actual publication of the cartoon raises the ante in the battle between free speech and Islamic fundamentalists to a new level.  There's been a tendency over the last few years in journalism in Europe and in the United States, to a lesser extent, to back down from this rabid attack from Islamic fundamentalists.  Unfortunately, it would seem that the appeasement policies that allowed the National Socialist movement (the Nazi Party) to close down free speech in Germany prior to World War II is a lesson not well remembered.  Appeasement by any individual, institution or even country that seeks to back away from confronting this challenge to free speech just invites further encroachments on each and every individual's rights." 

Charlie Hebdo magazine, which has a long history of irreverence and holding no religions or secular philosophies beyond its satirical attention, had received several threats on Facebook and Twitter.  Nick Jardine of the Business Journal in his article French Satirical Magazine's Website Taken Offline After Death Threats has reported why Charlie Hebdo's website has not been accessible since the attack.

Photographs of the cartoons, including the magazine cover, can be seen in a Le Monde slideshow titled Les caricatures publiées dans "Charia hebdo".  In the first slide someone is holding up the cover of the magazine in front of the wreckage following the attack.  The cover depicts the Prophet Mohammed with the caption '100 lashes if you don't die of laughter'.  In the third slide the character standing and holding a newspaper is saying, "In France a man was condemned to 9 years of prison because he gave AIDS to his companion."  The praying figure in response says, "Sharia Law is less severe.  The woman would only have been obliged to say 'Thank you.'"  In the fourth slide, titled 'Sharia Law of the Road', the officer is saying, "If you had passed under the orange (traffic signal), I would have only flattened your tire.  But under the red  ...."  In the fifth slide, titled 'Tunisia', an uncovered and free to grow jasmine plant is depicted next to a completely covered woman.  In the sixth slide three figures are depicted, a man in the middle speaking, a covered woman on the left listening and a man on the right throwing a stone.  The figure in the middle is saying, "Whoever cheats on her husband on Meetup.com will have their Facebook profile stoned."  The seventh slide, titled 'Sharia Law is amusing for the upright little people', a game about Sharia Law is depicted.  In the game's box is a fake amputated hand indicating the punishment for theft, a fake amputated foot indicating the punishment for stealing as part of a gang, a fake tongue indicating the punishment for making false accusations, a plastic sword for mock decapitations and amputations, polystyrene stones for pretend stoning of adulterous women, and, a paper whip for mock whipping of adulterers.  In the eighth slide the figure on the left is saying, "The relaxed law authorizes homosexuality.  The only thing the gays have to do is to wear the veil."    

Cartoonists Rights Network International condemns in the strongest terms the firebombing attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.  CRNI Executive Director Robert Russell urges cartoonists all over the world to "take this opportunity to express their outrage the best way they know how -- by making fun of the tyrants, despots, hypocrites, and in this case, the extremely unimaginative."