Muslims stage angry protests over Charlie Hebdo’s Mohammed cartoon as Boko Haram terror leader hails Paris massacre, calling new front cover image of the prophet Mohammed a renewed insult to their religion.
UK Daily Mail Charlie Hebdo’s decision to depict the Prophet Mohammed on its front cover today has angered Muslims around the world who called it a renewed insult to their religion. Around three million copies of the French satirical newspaper hit the stands this morning for the first since the terror attack on its office which killed 12 people.
The front cover showed a weeping Mohammed, holding a sign reading ‘I am Charlie’ with the words ‘All is forgiven’ above him. Such was its immediate popularity, the print run has since been increased to five million after issues sold out within minutes.
But many Muslims believe their faith forbids depictions of the prophet and reacted with dismay – and occasionally anger – to the latest cover image. Some felt their expressions of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo after last week’s attack had been rebuffed, while others feared the cartoon would trigger yet more violence.
‘You’re putting the lives of others at risk when you’re taunting bloodthirsty and mad terrorists,’ said Hamad Alfarhan, a 29-year old Kuwaiti doctor.
In the Philippines, there were angry protests at the front cover and also the perceived double standards by the West. Placards by demonstrators in Marawi were held aloft which accused the West of remaining silent over the deaths of Muslims and that said ‘You are Charlie, I love Mohammed’.
In one rally a picture of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was set on fire and banners waved that declared there would be no apology from the Islamic world for the Paris massacre. Mr Netanyahu became a central figure in the response to the attacks after four Jewish shoppers were killed by one of the Islamic fanatics at a kosher deli the day after the Charlie Hebdo shootings.
It came as Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram hailed the Paris massacres. ‘We are indeed happy with what happened in France,’ the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video posted online. ‘We are happy over what befell the people of France… as their blood was shed inside their country as they (try to) safeguard their blood,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Abbas Shumann, deputy to the Grand Sheik of Cairo’s influential Al-Azhar mosque, said the new image was ‘a blatant challenge to the feelings of Muslims who had sympathised with this newspaper.’
In Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood said it would stage a protest after Friday prayers in Amman in response to the paper’s Mohammed cartoon. Spokesman Murad Adaileh said the brotherhood strongly condemned both the killings and the ‘offensive’ against the prophet.
That was a widely expressed sentiment. Ghassan Nhouli, a grocer in the Lebanese port city of Sidon, said the magazine and the killers ‘are both wrong.’ ‘It is not permitted to kill and also it is not permitted to humiliate a billion Muslims,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Al Qaeda in Yemen claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo, saying it was ordered by the jihadist network’s global chief to avenge the French magazine’s cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
In a video entitled ‘A message regarding the blessed battle of Paris’, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said that it had financed and plotted the assault on the weekly that left 12 people dead and shocked France.
But it said the orders had come from the very top of the global jihadist network – Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian doctor who succeeded Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden after his death in 2011.
‘We, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the messenger of Allah,’ Nasser al-Ansi, one of AQAP’s chiefs, said in the video.
Leading Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, formerly a member of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), praised the ‘heroic and rare attack’ in France, hailing the Kouachi brothers as ‘two soldiers of Islam… who humiliated France.’ France ‘thought that it was immune to the strikes of the mujahedeen,’ he said in a statement.
YOUTUBE has removed the video but if you click the Daily Mail link at top, you can see it there.