Protesters burn the French flag in Pakistan after Charlie Hebdo reprints cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed as terror trial begins
- Dozens burned the French flag during protests in Muzaffarabad in Kashmir today
- It comes amid backlash of Charlie Hebdo republishing cartoons of Mohammed
- 12 people were killed in a gun rampage at Charlie Hebdo’s offices in early 2015
- The trial of 14 alleged accomplices in the attack began in Paris on Wednesday
Protesters burned the French flag in Pakistan amid backlash over Charlie Hebdo republishing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
The cover of the latest satirical weekly shows a dozen cartoons first published by Charlie Hebdo in 2006, which caused anger in the Muslim world.
Its republication marked the start of the trial of 14 alleged accomplices in the 2015 attack on the newspaper’s offices.
‘We will never lie down. We will never give up,’ Charlie Hebdo director Laurent Sourisseau wrote in an editorial alongside the cartoons.
Dozens gathered in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, in protest of the newspaper’s action.
Dozens in Muzaffarabad (above), capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, burned the French flag in protest of Charlie Hebdo republishing controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammed
The anti-France protesters yelled slogans including ‘Stop barking, French dogs’ and ‘Charlie Hebdo, stop’.
The protest ended peacefully after the men stomped on a French flag, dowsed it in petrol and then set it ablaze.
‘The government of Pakistan should immediately end its diplomatic relations with France as a protest,’ Sunni cleric Mohammad Zaman said at the rally.
This comes as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a video message that he condemned Charlie Hebdo’s action.
He added that he had lodged a protest with the French ambassador in Islamabad.
He said: ‘The published caricatures have hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims.
‘I hope that this despicable act will not be repeated and those responsible for it will be taken to a court of law.’
Far-right Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan said it was organising a protest after Friday prayers in the eastern city of Lahore.
TLP has organised huge protests over alleged blasphemy in the past. It paralysed much of Pakistan in 2018 with violent protests against the acquittal of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy.
Police and emergency vehicles at the scene after the gun rampage at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris in 2015 which left 12 people dead
Other protests were also expected to take place in the Pakistani cities of Rawalpindi and Karachi.
On January 7, 2015, at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, 12 people, including some of France’s most celebrated cartoonists, were killed when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage.
A policewoman and four Jewish shoppers died in related attacks over the following two days.
The trial of 14 alleged accomplices, who are charged with various crimes including supplying weapons and putting the killers in contact with ISIS, started in Paris yesterday.
Charlie Hebdo’s editorial team wrote earlier this week that now was the right time to republish the cartoons, saying it was ‘essential’ as the trial opens.
‘All of this, just for that,’ the front-page headline says.
In the centre of the Charlie Hebdo cover is a cartoon of the prophet drawn by its cartoonist Jean Cabut, known as Cabu, who was killed in the massacre.
‘We have often been asked since January 2015 to print other caricatures of Mohammed,’ it said.
‘We have always refused to do so, not because it is prohibited – the law allows us to do so – but because there was a need for a good reason to do it, a reason which has meaning and which brings something to the debate.’
Two masked gunmen brandishing Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers attack the headquarters of French satricial newspaper Charlie Hebdo
Charlie Hebdo is now published in conditions of utmost secrecy, and its staff are surrounded by armed guards and other security measures.
One said earlier this year that its new offices were ‘like Fort Knox…with numerous special doors…lifts, stairs, airlock passages and a code word signifying a serious threat that would send everyone to the panic room’.
In the 2015 attack, Said and Cherif Kouachi killed building maintenance worker Frederic Boisseau before forcing cartoonist Corinne Rey to give them access to the building.
Within a few minutes, editor-in-chief Stephane ‘Charb’ Charbonnier and cartoonists Cabut, Bernard Verlhac, Georges Wolinski and Philippe Honore were all dead, as well as economist Bernard Maris, columnist Elsa Cayat, Charb’s bodyguard Franck Brinsolaro, visitor Michel Renaud and proof-reader Mustapha Ourrad.
As they fled, the terrorists were heard shouting: ‘We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have taken revenge for the sake of the Prophet Mohammed.’
Once outside, they opened fire again and killed their 12th victim, police officer Ahmed Merabet, before fleeing to the Paris suburbs.
With France still in shock, the attacks continued the next day when Amedy Coulibaly, an acquaintance of Cherif Kouachi, killed a female police officer, Clarissa Jean-Philippe.
A message of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo – containing the popular slogan ‘je suis Charlie’ (meaning ‘I am Charlie’) – is laid out in Paris after the attack in 2015
On January 9, Coulibaly killed four Jewish men at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris after taking hostages and demanding that the Kouachi brothers go free.
French special forces eventually stormed the Hyper Cacher store, killing Coulibaly and freeing 15 surviving hostages.
The Kouachi brothers were killed by police in a separate stand-off at a printworks where they had taken refuge.
In a video recording, Coulibaly said the attacks were co-ordinated and carried out in the name of the so-called Islamic State.
However, Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch also said its leadership had ordered the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices.
Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly, had long tested the limits of what society would accept in the name of free speech, including with its depictions of Mohammed.
But the attacks led to a global outpouring of solidarity with the magazine, symbolised by the slogan ‘Je suis Charlie’, meaning ‘I am Charlie’.
The magazine’s first edition after the attack featured a cartoon of a tearful Prophet Mohammed holding a ‘Je suis Charlie’ sign under the headline ‘All is forgiven’.
Millions of copies of the so-called ‘survivors’ edition’ were printed, dwarfing the usual 60,000 print run.
A mural depicting victims of the deadly attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper near its offices in Paris
Later in 2015, another wave of Islamist attacks killed 130 people in co-ordinated bombings and shootings at the Bataclan theatre and other locations in Paris.
The following year, a Tunisian who pledged allegiance to ISIS ploughed his truck through a crowd in the Mediterranean city of Nice, killing 86 people.
The Charlie Hebdo trial – which was delayed by several months because of coronavirus – is being held in Paris and is due to run until November 10.
The alleged accomplices have been charged with crimes including supplying weapons, membership of a terrorist organisation and financing terrorism.
In a first for a terror trial, the proceedings will be filmed for archival purposes given the public interest in the case.
Of the 14 defendants, three will be tried in absentia and may be dead.
Hayat Boumedienne, Coulibaly’s partner at the time of the attack, and brothers Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine are believed to have travelled to areas of Syria under the control of ISIS just before the attacks.
Mohamed Belhoucine is accused of being the ideological mentor of Coulibaly after meeting him in jail and opening up channels of communication for him to ISIS.
Among those in the dock will be Ali Riza Polat who investigators allege helped the three attackers amass their weapons. He faces life in jail if found guilty.
Just after the attacks, he repeatedly tried to leave France for Syria but has been held since March 2015.
People who escaped the massacres are set to give testimony at a trial into one of the darkest chapters in modern French history.
‘This trial is an important moment for them,’ Marie-Laure Barre and Nathalie Senyk, lawyers for victims at Charlie Hebdo, said in a statement.
‘They are waiting for justice to be done to find out who did what, knowing that those who pulled the trigger are no longer there,’ they added.
The trial comes amid a fresh controversy in the media after a black female politician was depicted as a chained slave in a leading conservative magazine.
Valeurs Actuelles (Current Values) could is facing a probe by Paris prosecutors for the seven-page illustrated feature on French MP Danièle Obono, 40.
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