Offices of French Satirical Magazine Firebombed


Offices of French Satirical Magazine Firebombed

Here we go again … offended religious sensibilities trample over secular rights to free expression.

PARISThe office of a French satirical magazine here was badly damaged by a firebomb early on Wednesday, the publisher said, after it published a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet Muhammad to salute the victory of an Islamist party in Tunisian elections. The publication also said hackers disrupted its Web site.”

The story

PARIS — The office of a French satirical magazine here was badly damaged by a firebomb early on Wednesday, the publisher said, after it published a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet Muhammad to salute the victory of an Islamist party in Tunisian elections. The publication also said hackers had disrupted its Web site.

Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Firefighters walked outside the damaged offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Wednesday.

The magazine, Charlie Hebdo, had announced a special issue for publication Wednesday, renamed “Charia Hebdo,” a play on the word in French for Shariah law.

The magazine’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier, told Europe 1 radio that the police had called just before 5 a.m. to report a fire of criminal origin. News reports said a Molotov cocktail had been thrown through a window. The special edition was on its way to the newsstands, the editor said, and will appear as scheduled.

But, he added: “We are homeless and we have no way to put out the magazine. We hope this won’t be the last issue.”

“We can’t put out the magazine under these conditions,” he said. “The stocks are burned, smoke is everywhere, the paste-up board is unusable, everything is melted, there’s no more electricity.”

The magazine’s Web site appeared to have been restored by early Wednesday.

Caustically ironic and vulgar, Charlie Hebdo prides itself on being offensive to virtually everyone. It has drawn the ire of Muslim activists before, including in 2006, after it republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that first appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Islamic law usually forbids depictions of the prophet. The edition of Charlie Hebdo that apparently inspired the fire-bombing showed a cartoon of Muhammad and the words: “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter.”

Outside the magazine’s office, there were still traces of smoke, with huge piles of half-burned copies of the magazine heaped on the sidewalk. Inside, the office was darkened from smoke and melted computers spoke to the seriousness of the damage.

French authorities condemned the attack as an assault on the freedom of the press. “Freedom of expression is an inalienable right in our democracy and all attacks on the freedom of the press must be condemned with the greatest firmness,” Prime Minister François Fillon said in a statement. “No cause can justify such an act of violence.”

The Associated Press quoted Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, as saying his 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.”

Alan Cowell contributed reporting.

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