The Gaza-based Hamas terror group on Wednesday denounced the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for putting a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on the front cover of its new issue, asserting that the publication was part of a global conspiracy by an anti-Muslim “Zionist lobby.”
“We condemn the latest publication of ‘Charlie Hebdo,’ which has caricatures offending the Prophet Muhammad,” spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, according to Channel 10 news.
“The way the Israeli newspapers have dealt with the issue, with the blessing of the US secretary of state, is clear evidence that there is a plot, directed by the Zionist lobby, targeting Muslims, their culture, and the tolerance toward them by Western countries.”
Barhoum claimed that publishing the latest issue was “a dangerous act,” adding that “all these campaigns against Islam, the Muslims, and the Prophet Muhammad must end.”
The new issue of Charlie Hebdo followed an attack last Wednesday by Islamic extremist brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi at the offices of the magazine. Ten Charlie Hebdo workers and two policemen were killed in the attack. The brothers declared the shooting was revenge for the weekly having published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. They were both later killed in a shootout with police.
The killings, which came just before the slayings of a policewoman and four Jewish shoppers at a kosher grocery in the French capital by another Islamist gunman, drew global condemnation and prompted a unity march in Paris on Sunday, led by 50 world leaders and diplomats, that was attended by some 1.6 million people.
Hamas had also condemned the attack, stating that “differences of opinion and thought cannot justify murder.” The statement, however, made no mention of Friday’s attack on the kosher supermarket.
Across France, people snapped up copies of Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday morning as the weekly published its first edition since the deadly Paris attacks.
Three million copies of the magazine, featuring on the front a weeping prophet holding up a sign saying “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) under the headline “All is forgiven,” have been printed. There were no other depictions of the prophet in the new edition, but many of the cartoons lampoon Islamist gunmen.
The magazine was sold out in many parts of the capital minutes after going on sale. The distributor announced it would increase the initial run from 3 million to 5 million to meet the demand. The print run dwarfs Charlie Hebdo’s normal run of around 60,000 copies, and the edition will also be available in English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish.