As slain Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier was laid to rest Friday, a cartoonist from the predecessor magazine Hara-Kiri denounced his determination to run the Prophet Muhammad cartoons despite violence and threats.
The latest issue of the French satire magazine continues to sell briskly, as print runs climbed to 5 million, and the Charlie Hebdo app has been updated, with this week’s issue available in English as well as France. Reactions from Muslim scholars and clerics to the latest issue were negative, but generally counseled restraint. Around the world, protestors have taken to the streets; most of the demonstrations have been peaceful but a few have turned violent.
The cartoonist Luz, one of the artists of the Muhammad covers, gave an emotional eulogy at Charbonnier’s funeral, calling him a “friend, brother, drinking buddy… partner in crime,” and expressing his regret that Charbonnier would not be there to draw the events following the Jan. 7 attack, and expressing his hope that “thousands of Charlie Hebdos” will spring up in its aftermath.
Meanwhile, Henri Roussel, one of the contributors to the magazine that became Charlie Hebdo, denounced Charbonnier for continuing to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad after the magazine’s offices were firebombed in 2011.
“What made him feel the need to drag the team into overdoing it?” Roussel wrote in an open letter published in the French magazine Nouvel Obs. “I believe that we are fools who took an unnecessary risk. That’s it. We think we are invulnerable. For years, decades even, it was a provocation and then one day the provocation turns against us.”
Roussel, who goes by the pen name Delfeil de Ton, was a contributor to the first issue of the satirical magazine Hara-Kiri, which ran from 1960 to 1970 and was temporarily banned by the French government several times. In 1970, the magazine published an issue apparently mocking the recent death of President Charles DeGaulle and was permanently banned from publicity and sale to minors; it stopped publication, and the staff started Charlie Hebdo (the name comes from another magazine, Charlie Mensuel, that carried Charlie Brown cartoons).
Charlie Hebdo lawyer Richard Malka responded to Roussel’s letter, saying, “Charb has not yet even been buried and Obs finds nothing better to do that to publish a polemical and venomous piece on him.” However, Nouvel Obs editor Matthieu Croissandeau explained, “We received this text and after a debate I decided to publish it in an edition on freedom of expression, it would have seemed to me worrisome to have censored his voice, even if it is discordant. Particularly as this is the voice of one of the pioneers of the gang.”
Also on Friday, protestors set fire to the French cultural center and several Christian churches in Zinder, the second city of Niger, and a police officer and three civilians were killed. “Some of the protesters were armed with bows and arrows as well as clubs. The clashes were very violent in some places,” one source told Reuters, and a witness said, “The protesters are crying out in local Hausa language: Charlie is Satan – let hell engulf those supporting Charlie.” Today, a crowd of 1,000 in the capital of Niamey threw rocks at police, set fire to tires, and attacked churches and French-owned businesses. Protests in Karachi, Pakistan, and Algiers, Algeria, also turned violent, but more peaceful demonstrations took place in Mali, Jordan, Senegal, Mauritania, Turkey and Yemen.
Australian imam Yahya Adel Ibrahim posted this advice on his Facebook page:
As it is clear that the cartoons are to be published again, Muslims will inevitably be hurt and angered, but our reaction must be a reflection of the teachings of the one we love & are angered for, ﷺ.
Enduring patience, tolerance, gentleness and mercy as was the character of our beloved Prophet (peace and Blessings be upon him) is the best and immediate way to respond.
With dignified nobility we must be restrained, as the Quran says “And when the ignorant speak with them, they say Peace.”
Our aim is to not, inadvertently, give the cartoons more prominence through our attention. Muslims must remain calm and peaceful in their speech and actions. Repel harm with goodness is the Qur’anic imperative and by which the Prophet Muhammad lived. Legal action, civil protest, letter writing & other legal avenues can then be considered,insha Allah.
Back in France, Saïd Kouachi, one of the two brothers who killed 12 people in the Charlie Hebdo offices, was buried in an unmarked grave in Reims, late at night, with police standing guard and several members of his family in attendance. His wife was not there, on advice of her lawyer. “She is relieved that her husband has been buried quietly and with dignity,” the attorney said.
The mayor of Reims tried to deny the burial permit but was told by French authorities that he could not do so. Chérif Kouachi will likely be buried in Gennevilliers, where he had lived, but the town’s mayor denied a request by his widow to have Saïd buried there as well.
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