New Charlie Hebdo Cartoon condemned in Muslim world

Outrage: Many Muslims believe their faith forbids depictions of the prophet and reacted with dismay - and occasionally anger - to the latest cover image including at this demonstration in Marawi in the Philippines
Outrage: Many Muslims believe their faith forbids depictions of the prophet and reacted with dismay – and occasionally anger – to the latest cover image including at this demonstration in Marawi in the Philippines

Beirut, Lebanon – A cover illustration of Prophet Muhammad in the latest edition of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo ignited controversy in the Middle East on Wednesday, prompting Egypt and Turkey to issue or threaten restrictions on publication of the images and stirring wide debate over religion and free speech.

Some were outraged, while others called for free speech in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt that punish people for alleged blasphemy. Many expressed indifference, saying they were weary of debating cartoons that paled in significance beside the carnage taking place in wars in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

In Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi issued a decree giving the prime minister authority to ban any foreign publications “offensive to religion,” the state-owned daily Al Ahram reported. Mr. Sisi has portrayed himself as a secular bulwark against Islamists.

Egypt’s official religious institutions have had mixed reactions to the new cartoon.

Dar al-Ifta, an organization of Sunni scholars, criticized the French publication on Tuesday for its decision to continue printing cartoons depicting the prophet, saying it would “cause a new wave of hatred in French and western societies” and declaring that the magazine “does not serve coexistence and the dialogue of civilizations that Muslims seek.”

But Al-Azhar University, the foremost institution of Sunni scholarship, on Wednesday called on people to “ignore” the cartoons. “Ignore this unpleasant trifle,” the statement advised, “because the Prophet of mercy and humanity (peace be upon him) is on too great and high a level to be affected by drawings that lack ethics.”

Protesters in Sidon , south Lebanon denounce the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo over it most recent issue showing the Muslim Prophet Mohammad on its cover.
Protesters in Sidon , south Lebanon denounce the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo over it most recent issue showing the Muslim Prophet Mohammad on its cover.

The Egyptian Family House, an organization of the country’s main Muslim and Coptic Christian authorities, issued a statement decrying the cartoons because they “increase the gap between people and religions” and calling on media outlets not to “negatively target the prophets and the heavenly religions, and not to provoke the feelings of Muslims.”

Egyptian courts have recently sentenced a 21-year-old student to three years in jail for atheism and what were deemed blasphemous statements on his Facebook page, and a Christian man was sentenced last year to six years for “insulting Islam.”

In Turkey, like Egypt a large and influential Muslim country, a local court in the southern city of Diyarbakir ordered the blocking of sections of four websites that showed the new cartoon, the semiofficial Anadolu news agency reported.

The image depicts Muhammad weeping and holding a sign saying “I am Charlie” in French, the slogan adopted by many of those protesting the attack by Islamist extremists on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters, which killed 12 people.

“Insulting the prophet can never be regarded within the context of media freedom,” Ercan Ezgin, a Turkish lawyer, wrote in the complaint that prompted the ruling in Diyarbakir, according to the CNN Turk channel. “This cartoon bears the danger of deeply provoking billions of Muslims. It should never be acceptable to depict our prophet in such a cartoon, poking fun at him, showing him as if he’s shedding tears.”

But one Turkish website, T24, translated the entire new issue of Charlie Hebdo into Turkish and those pages were still accessible Wednesday evening.

protest against charlie cartoon, pakistan
Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamaat-i-Islami rally to protest French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Islamabad, Pakistan, Jan. 16, 2015.

In the early morning hours on Wednesday, the Turkish police halted trucks distributing Cumhuriyet, a left-wing newspaper that carried four pages from Charlie Hebdo’s new issue. Distribution resumed only after investigators checked the contents of the paper and concluded that none of the cartoons represented the prophet, Turkish news media reported.

The newspaper received numerous threats over the phone and the Internet. Near the Cumhuriyet headquarters in central Istanbul, the police detained a protester who carried an Islamic flag, shouting, “You will not attack my religion, my prophet,” according to CNN Turk.

Three more protesters were detained close to Cumhuriyet newspaper premises late Wednesday after they held signs carrying death threats against any one who insulted Islam and its prophet.

“If you have limitless freedom of speech, Muslim community has limitless right to protest,” one handwritten sign read, a photograph posted on Twitter showed.

Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group whose leader, Hassan Nasrallah, last week criticized extremists who kill those they consider infidels in the name of Islam — without explicitly denouncing the Paris killings — released a statement Wednesday condemning the new cartoon.

“Such an action is absolutely rejected,” it said. He called cartoon “a big provocation to the feelings of more than one and a half billion Muslims in the world, all of them believers in heaven’s messages and keen for dialogue and common values. Such actions directly contribute to supporting terrorism, extremism and extremists.”

NY Times

  • 5thDrawer

    “….all of them believers in heaven’s messages and keen for dialogue …”
    And that’s problem #1 … they never heard from ‘heaven’. But they sure do love ‘dialogue’.
    By the way, in the pictures, are those the same cuties who were protesting for women’s rights anywhere near Beirut last year?? Or for education in Pakistan??

    • MekensehParty

      lol

  • MekensehParty

    Condemn and protest as much as you want.
    People can say whatever they want and will continue to.

  • n0n0

    Condemn? They believe they’ll live forever. What better way to live than to spend one’s entire life policing the opinions of others and wasting your time in pointless protest & violence (pointless as in opinions happen, grow up).

    • MekensehParty

      That’s how they keep them busy and united under tyranny.
      They let them go to the street and vent against some weekly that prints 30K magazine
      If these people were protesting for Human rights they’ll shoot them on the spot

  • AkhouManUki

    If all these people took all that effort and energy of protesting a cartoon, and dedicated it to helping the poor and underprivileged in their respective countries, how many people would they have helped today? I think the higher beings that they worship would be a lot more proud of them.

    • 5thDrawer

      errrr …. that’s a sort of Christian attitude I think … thumb up.

      • AkhouManUki

        Thanks for the thumb up, but I disagree that it is a Christian attitude. I think it’s agnostic to any religion, and is more about civilization. It’s about believing that we are all God’s creatures, and it’s our duty to look out for each other. If anything, Religion perverts this perspective into people thinking they should look out for “their own”.

  • nagy_michael2

    i don’t understand the west they say Muslims are welcome and don’t want any attacks on them yet the go around and poke fun at the prophet. It doesn’t make any sense and the west is playing into the hands of ISIS. this is exactly what Daesh want to incite the whole muslim world against the west and they can succeed if the this stupid charlie cartoons keep making fun of the Prophet.now in know in several muslim countries the gov’t make fun of Jesus and let their own people have fun with it. but are we going to be like them? are we that stupid and naive to fall into the hands of ISIS. you can be critical of their AMIR and the way they’re going about killing people. but to criticize the prophet abosuletely dumb founded and irrational. stop this non sense and embrace the moderate muslims and turn them against ISIS. that is your best chance of getting rid of extremism once and for all. or at least quiet it down..

    • Hind Abyad

      NYT didn’t want to publish it..US and UK were more discreet..

    • Patience2

      Someday, when you have time, read ‘Islam Deconstructed’, lots of historical facts and information, pretty well documented.

      • nagy_michael2

        i will but the bottom line you are dealing mostly with ignorant people and educated people of Turkey and Iran were watching movies allowed by their gov’t to watch a movie that depicts Jesus as a womanizer and some other demeaning things i heard. Turkey and iran always the inciter and in the same class as ISIS. To me as a person who grew with Muslims friends its a sensitive issue and its not fair to demean the Prophet when you don’t want them to demean Jesus. but either way i should not stoop to the extremists view levels and fall for their trap.

        • 5thDrawer

          Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with using the words ‘pig’, ‘sausage’, or ‘bacon’.
          Especially for sausages which are all-beef.
          But some idiots (also called sausages) at Oxford are recommending we don’t now, simply because some turkey-sausages don’t pass a ‘means’ test, even when well-flavoured to taste as good as pork. 😉

  • Andre

    Good for them, that’s freedom of speech (stop laughing and let me finish). That just shows how the Muslim world really feels: The majority don’t care for the radical criminals, but they ALL will band together if one disrespects their prophet. I’m all in for freedom of speech, but one must also be respectful of others faith.

    I just wish, they protest with such passion against, the radical criminals that hijacked Islam and keep committing in human crimes against innocent other muslims.

  • Patience2

    Those people have nothing to say to me. I’m glad not to be part of their world. Their opinions belong to them, and may they enjoy having them.

  • Sam Pryor

    Ha, ‘respect islam’… I’ll repect islam when islam respects basic human rights.

  • Sam Pryor

    Also the last time the Philippines was bombed was probably when America was driving out Japanese invaders in WW2. ‘They bomb our homes’ give me a break…

  • MohamedAmeen

    Absolute freedom of speech in a developing multi cultural nation may bring needless violence, harm to civilians, rancour and tragedies.

    Charlie Hebdo brushes aside such potential threatening consequences. An insulting book like Satanic Verses caused the deaths of 14 Indians as less educated people are aroused by intolerant emotions,

    Irresponsible authors and publishers disregard such tragic consequence. They want their name and wages regardless.

    The British had banned the Book Spy Catcher? Why?

    The same British did not allow the book titled the Massacre and also banned a film on Saudi Princess. Is it because Britain has a double standard one for the influential and one for the politically weak.

    Is Justice based on power and money.

    It is usual double standard, no principles, usual bullying of the weak and when the weak has no weapons to fight against.

    Freedom to impart information is different from freedom to insult, ridicule, insult and vilify and subconsciously create terrorists

    Is such a freedom more divine than communal harmony?