New Hebdo cover gives further offence
Dr Omer el-Hamdoon, President of the Muslim Association of Britain, today hit out at the cover of tomorrow’s edition of Charlie Hebdo.
According to the Guardian, which warned that “this article contains the image of the magazine cover, which some may find offensive”, el-Hamdoon said:
My reaction to the cartoon is disgust, but tending more to annoyance as well because I feel that what’s happening here is not that different from what we witnessed back in 2005 with the Danish cartoons when media outlets went into a cycle of just publishing the cartoons just to show defiance. And what that caused is more offence.
Speaking on the BBC Today programme, el-Habdoon, above, said causing offence “just for the purpose of offending” was not freedom of speech.
And Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan said the latest cartoon had added more salt to the wound.
The cover, depicts Mohammed shedding a tear and holding up a sign reading “Je suis Charlie” in sympathy with the dead journalists. The headline says “All is forgiven”.
Zineb El Rhazoui, a surviving columnist at Charlie Hebdo magazine who worked on the new issue, said the cover was a call to forgive the terrorists who murdered her colleagues last week, saying she did not feel hate towards Chérif and Saïd Kouachi despite their deadly attack on the magazine, and urged Muslims to accept humour.
We don’t feel any hate to them. We know that the struggle is not with them as people, but the struggle is with an ideology.
A record three million copies are to be printed in 16 languages after the massacre triggered a worldwide debate on free speech and brought more than four million people on to the streets of France in a unity march on Sunday.
The eight-page edition went to the presses on Monday night, according to Libération, the newspaper that offered Charlie Hebdo staff temporary working space following the attack.
The cover cartoon was drawn by the weekly’s cartoonist Luz, who survived the massacre because he was late arriving at the office.
Newspapers around Europe, including Libération, Le Monde and Frankfurter Allgemeine, have used the image online. The BBC showed it briefly during a newspaper review on Newsnight. In the US, The Washington Post, USA Today, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast and CBS News ran the cover but The New York Times did not.
In Australia, the ABC showed the image of the cartoon on its 24-hour rolling news programme but with a warning to viewers. The Guardian said it was:
Running this cover as its news value warrants publication.
Rhazoui said Muslims could ignore the magazine if they took offence.
I would tell them it is a drawing and they are not obliged to buy this edition of Charlie Hebdo if they don’t appreciate our work. We are only doing our job, we don’t violate the law.
Our friends died because of small drawings, because of a joke, but what happen to us was not a joke. Muslims must understand that we in Charlie Hebdo just consider Islam as a normal religion just like any other religion in France. Islam must accept to be treated like all the other religions in this country. And they must accept humour also.
Former French prime minister François Fillon, speaking on Tuesday on France Inter, said he thought the front cover of Charlie Hebdo was “magnificent” and it carried the message of compassion given by all regions.
I have always defended Charlie Hebdo. There can be no debate on freedom of expression, never.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, told the Today programme that Charlie Hebdo had no choice but to print the cover it had.
You cannot have a march through the streets of Paris attended by 46 world leaders, four million people, climaxing with a shout of ‘We are not afraid’ and then not print the central object of contention.
Of course they are right to do that and I am afraid it is absolutely vital now that everybody stands up and defends their right to publish. You may not agree with what they have done, you may be offended by what they have done, but you should defend their right to publish it.