Satirical paper firebombed in suspected Islamic attack

Charlie Hebdo was due to publish Sharia edition 'guest edited' by Prophet Mohammed

LAST UPDATED AT 08:53 ON Wed 2 Nov 2011

THE OFFICES of the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo have been firebombed overnight, just hours before a controversial Sharia edition of the magazine including depictions of Prophet Mohammed was due to hit the newsstands.

A fire started at around 1am today after a petrol bomb was thrown through a window of the premises, located in Paris's 20th arrondissement. Europe 1 reports that the magazine's website was also hacked, displaying a message which accused the magazine of "abusing Islam's almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech".

The magazine had announced on Monday that to celebrate the victory of the Islamist Ennahda party in Tunisia and the Libyan government's promises to instate Sharia law, Prophet Mohammed had been asked to guest edit the next edition, to be called ‘Charia Hebdo’. The issue would include an editorial entitled 'Halal Aperitif' and a feature called 'Madam Sharia'.

"The Islamic Prophet did not have to be asked twice and we thank him," the paper said. The cover, which can be seen here, carries an image of the Prophet Mohammed saying: "100 lashes if you don't die laughing".

The preview of the cover provoked outrage among many when it was released on Monday, according to the managing director of the magazine, Charbit. "You have to ask what you can do to not offend," he told AFP. "We didn't think we were being provocative, we just thought we were doing our job as normal."

No one has yet been arrested, but Charbit said he is convinced that the fire is linked to the special edition. · 

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