French paper’s image of Mohammed being wheeled by Jew raises security concerns

Click photo to download. Caption: A controversial cover for the Nov. 3, 2011 issue of Charlie Hebdo, which was "guest-edited" by the Prophet Mohammed. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.( Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly magazine, published several provocative cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, raising renewed fears of rioting by Muslims against Western targets, Reuters reported. 

The cover of the magazine depicts Mohammed being pushed in a wheelchair by an Orthodox Jew, while several more cartoons inside depict Mohammed naked, including one that shows his genitals.

The French government said it was temporarily shutting down premises this coming Friday, including embassies and schools in 20 countries, amid fears that they could become targets of renewed protests or terrorist attacks. Police were also deployed to protect the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo.

Dr. Richard Prasquier, head of the French Jewish umbrella Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France (CRIF), said in a statement condemning the cartoons that “critics of religion must themselves heed criticism—not of their principles but of the timing of their actions,” given the recent unrest in the Arab world linked to the “Innocence of Muslims” film that demeaned Mohammed. 

The editor of Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier, pointed out the hypocrisy of the situation, “We have the impression that it’s officially allowed for Charlie Hebdo to attack the Catholic far-right but we cannot poke fun at fundamental Islamists,” said Charbonnier.

He said “everyone is driven by fear, and that is exactly what this small handful of extremists who do not represent anyone want—to make everyone afraid, to shut us all in a cave.”

Charlie Hebdo has a reputation of being provocative and asserting its right to free speech. Its Paris offices were firebombed last November after it published a caricature mocking Mohammed, and Charbonnier has been guarded by police ever since.

Posted on September 19, 2012 .