Reporters Without Borders is deeply shocked by the firebomb attack that devastated the premises of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris in the early hours of yesterday.
“It is extremely worrying to note that in France there are individuals who are prepared to lash out in such a violent manner against a newspaper for making use of its freedom of expression. Reacting in this way only serves to increase tension and ignorance of all kinds,” said Jean-François Julliard, secretary-general of the press freedom organization, immediately after the attack.
“Seven years to the day since the murder of the Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, on 2 November 2004, there is still a high risk that religion could become a taboo subject.
“We are extremely worried. Today, Charlie Hebdo is set on fire for having published a caricature of Mohammed, while yesterday and every day since 20 October, Christian fundamentalists have been protesting outside the Théâtre de la Ville to disrupt a play they regard as blasphemous….
“These actions are intended to intimidate journalists and artists and force them into self-censorship. We must redouble our vigilance.”
Fire broke out in the offices of Charlie Hebdo in the 20th arrondissement of Paris in the early hours of yesterday. It was caused by a Molotov cocktail thrown by unidentified attackers about 1 a.m. There were no injuries. In addition, the weekly’s website was hacked and its home page replaced with a photograph of Mecca under the slogan “There is no other god but Allah.”
The editorial staff believes the attack is linked to a special edition of the magazine published yesterday, which was re-named Charia Hebdo, a reference to Sharia Islamic law, and showing a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed promising “one hundred lashes if you don’t die of laughter.”
“I certainly was not expecting a reaction of this magnitude,” the editor, known as Charb, told Reporters Without Borders.
“Of course, Charlie Hebdo will carry on as before. But for now our premises are covered in soot and unusable. The computers are wrecked, although the hard disks seem to have been saved.“
Reporters Without Borders has meanwhile offered Charlie Hebdo’s editorial team temporary accommodation in its own offices.