French paper attacked after publishing the cartoon of Prophet Mohammad. The offices of a French satirical newspaper that published a special Arab Spring edition with the Prophet Mohammed as “guest editor” were destroyed in a suspected firebomb attack on Wednesday, police said.
The newspaper’s website also appeared to have been hacked on Wednesday, with its regular homepage replaced with a photo of the Grand Mosque in Mecca and a message reading: “No god but Allah”.
French officials were quick to denounce the attack and offer support to the newspaper.
“Freedom of the press is a sacred freedom in our country and everything must be done to preserve it,” Interior Minister Claude Gueant told AFP.
The magazine’s publisher, known only as Charb, said he was convinced the fire was linked to the special edition.
“On Twitter, on Facebook, we received several letters of protest, threats, insults,” which had been forwarded to the police, he said.
“Our problem now is to be able to put a paper out next Wednesday,” he said. “There is soot everywhere, the computers are in my opinion dead, the electrical system is melted.”
“This is the first time we have been physically attacked, but we won’t let it get to us.”
In a statement, the newspaper’s editorial department said it was “against all religious fundamentalism but not against practising Muslims.”
“We are for the Arab Spring, against the winter of fanatics,” it said.
The weekly had said it would publish a special edition to “celebrate” the Ennahda Islamist party’s election victory in Tunisia and the transitional Libyan executive’s announcement that Islamic Sharia law would be the country’s main source of law.
It would feature the prophet Mohammed as guest “editor”, the magazine said.
As well as the cover cartoon, a back-page drawing featured Mohammed wearing a red nose and accompanied by the words: “Yes, Islam is compatible with humour.”
The depiction of the prophet’s face is strictly prohibited in Islam.
Charb on Tuesday rejected accusations that he was trying to provoke.
“We feel we’re just doing our job as usual. The only difference is that this week, Mohammed is on the cover and that’s quite rare,” he told AFP.