Whether one agrees with the publication of such provocative cartoons or not, the petrol-bombing, which was accompanied by threats on Twitter, Facebook and through the post, was an unacceptable and worrying attempt at intimidating an organ of the free press. Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM), has strongly condemned the fire if police did confirm it was a criminal attack, and Paris City Hall said it would help Charlie Hebdo find a new office.
The special edition of the paper mocked the victory of the An-Nahda Party in Tunisia: “To fittingly celebrate the victory of the Islamist Ennahda party in Tunisia... Charlie Hebdo has asked Muhammad to be the special editor-in-chief of its next issue. The prophet of Islam didn't have to be asked twice and we thank him for it.” The cover of the issue shows Muhammad saying “100 lashes if you are not dying of laughter,” which has yet again caused a great deal of offence. A spokesman for Charlie Hebdo explained that this was a response to what was happening in Tunisia and Libya in which Islamist parties are gaining prominence. This is particularly infuriating for many Tunisians since it seems to lump An-Nadha into the standard Western depiction of an “Islamist” camp despite the fact that it campaigned explicitly on a moderate basis, insisting on women's rights and the importance of political plurality.
Although of course such attacks should in no way be allowed to take place, and free press should be encouraged, such freedom must also come with responsibility. Charlie Hebdo should certainly be allowed to publish satirical content, but should consider acting with greater sensitivity.