Only yesterday word that Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French magazine, was planning to run a a special “Sharia issue” guest edited by the prophet Mohammed.
“What could possibly go wrong?” we were planning to write.
Well, quick as a wink. before we could make the simplest jokes, the offices of Hebdo have been gutted by a firebomb. No one was injured in the fire, but the office appears to be a write-off. “The building is still standing. The problem is there’s nothing left inside,” said editor Stephane Charbonnier, a cartoonist who works under the name Charb. Here’s a video of the damage.
The new issue included a picture of Mohammed on the cover, with a balloon reading “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter.” Hebdo’s website was also hacked and replaced with pro-Islamist messages.
Islamic organizations have condemned the firebombing — while also chided Hebdo for flouting Islamic conventions. French officials have been universal in backing up the importance of free speech.
Hebdo has not been without controversy in the past– it’s been sued 13 times by Catholic groups who were offended by jabs at Christianity. In 2006, a Muslim group sued over the reprinting the notorious Danish cartoons of Mohammed.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.