Fire damages office of French newspaper after it ‘invites’ Mohammed as guest editor

News Agencies – November 2, 2011

A fire early November 2nd caused serious damages at the headquarters of a satiric French newspaper that “invited” the Prophet Mohammed as a guest editor. A police official said the fire broke out overnight at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, and the cause remains unclear. No injuries were reported. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because an investigation into the fire is under way. Police cited a witness saying that someone was seen throwing two firebombs at the building.

Newspaper employees said they had received numerous threats as a result of the issue, subtitled “Sharia Hebdo,” in reference to Islamic law. The front-page of the weekly showed a cartoon-like man with a turban, white robe and beard smiling broadly and saying, in an accompanying bubble, “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.”

Page 2, called “Sharia Madame,” is made up of a series of cartoons featuring women in burkas, the face-covering robes. And the paper’s tongue-in-cheek editorial, signed “Mohammed ,” follows on page 3, centred on the victory last week of Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party in the nation’s first free election – and saying that the party’s real intention is imposing Islam not democracy. Leading French politicians, citing the right to freedom of expression, condemned the attack on the paper.