Al Azhar: the republication of Charlie Hebdo's Muhammad cartoons is a 'criminal act'
Sunni Islam’s top university slams the French satirical weekly for republishing the 2015 cartoons to mark the start of the trial of people involved in the terrorist attacks against the paper and a kosher supermarket on 7-9 January 2015. For Al Azhar, the cartoons promote “hate speech;” for Charlie Hebdo, it is an act of by which they refuse to “give up our freedoms”.
Paris (AsiaNews) – Al Azhar University, the leading institution of Sunni learning, condemned the republication by Charlie Hebdo of the Muhammad cartoons, calling the decision a "criminal act".
On its Facebook page, Al Azhar’s Observatory for the Fight against Extremism writes that “Insisting on the criminal act of republishing these offensive caricatures strengthens hate speech and stirs the emotion of believers".
The Muhammad cartoons, published first in Denmark and then in France in 2012 and 2015, led to terrorist attacks against the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Hyper Cacher (kosher) supermarket.
On 7 January 2015, two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, forced their way into the weekly’s offices, killing 11 people died; as they fled the scene they shot dead a policeman.
The next day, Amedy Coulibaly, a friend of the two brothers, killed a policewoman. The following day he attacked a Hyper Cacher supermarket, killing four people.
All three terrorists eventually died in gun battles with police.
Yesterday, 14 people, three in absentia, went on trial in connection with the two attacks, accused of complicity.
To mark the start of the trial, Charlie Hebdo re-published the Muhammad cartoons blamed for the terrorist attacks. Among radical Muslims, publishing images of the prophet is considered blasphemous.
For Charlie Hebdo's lawyer, Richard Malka, the cartoons are being republished in a spirit of “refusal to give up our freedoms".
According to a poll commissioned by the satirical weekly, 59 per cent of French people agree with Charlie Hebdo’s republication. Among French Muslims, 69 per cent consider the republication "a useless provocation".