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PARIS – Satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo woke up with a bang on Wednesday when the paper’s Paris headquarters was firebombed during the night after a recent issue featuring the Prophet Mohammed on the cover hit newsstands.
Arsonists attacked the offices after Charlie Hebdo published a special issue said to have been “guest edited” by Mohammed. The cover featured a cartoon image of Mohammed, considered blasphemous according to Islamic law, complete with tag line “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter.”
The special issue was published as a response to announcements made by Libya’s National Transitional Council and the victory of Islamic party Ennahda in Tunisia. The issue, titled “Sharia Hebdo” received a wave of complaints and threats via the paper’s facebook and twitter pages after it was published and the paper’s website was hacked. All of Charlie Hebdo’s office equipment has been destroyed, but the paper’s editor-in-chief, known simply as Charb, told Gallic press on Wednesday: “We could not put a paper together today, but we will do everything possible to produce one next week.” He added: “Whatever happens, we’ll do it. There is no question of giving in.”
Even after the attack, Charlie Hebo newspapers remained in French kiosks. No one has been arrested for the crime, but witnesses saw gas bombs being thrown onto the premises, according to police reports.
The attack occurred around 1 a.m. in Paris’ 20th arrondissement and no injuries were reported, but Charlie Hebdo plans to press charges against the attackers.
Head of Nicolas Sarkozy‘s UMP party Jean-Francois Cope told French press that the fire was “nothing less than a terrorist attack on a paper in a country that should incarnate free speech.”
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