Around 1,500 Muslims in the Philippines marched against the “double standards” of the provocative Charlie Hebdo magazine yesterday and burned a front cover poster in protest of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohamed.
The crowd of demonstrators, made up of mainly women and students as well as local politicians, stood in the packed main square of Marawi in the south of the country with banners and posters saying “France must apologise” and “You are Charlie, I am Mohamed”.
A sign held up by the crowd, with some crying and chanting, said: “You bomb our homes! You kill our Muslim brother! You mock our Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Now you want an apology? You even owe us! We will never apologize!”
Also among the crowd was a huge mock-up poster of a Charlie Hebdo magazine, that was ceremoniously set on fire, with a photograph of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a flag of Israel in the background and a headline underneath saying “Zionist Conspiracy”.
The conspiracy claims could refer to the magazine having been successfully sued for 40,000 Euros in 2009 by Maurice Sinet – an 80-year-old cartoonist also known as Siné – who was sacked for a drawing that had been deemed “anti-Semitic”. It depicted Jean Sarkozy, the then-president’s son and referred to his marriage to a Jewish heiress.
He had wrote next to the drawings “the lad will go far” in relation to his new alleged family connections and was ordered by the then-editor Philippe Val to apologise or face being fired after demands made to the magazine by pressure groups. Sinet said he would “rather cut [his own] balls off” than bow to force and later set-up his own publication, Sine Hebdo, with the money he won over unfair dismissal.
Around five million copies of the magazine’s “survivor’s issue” are being printed with long queues of people waiting for hours to buy them just a week after 17 people were shot dead by masked gunmen who stormed into the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris.
Yesterday, the founder of the magazine Henri Roussel said he disagreed with publishing a “provocation” and that the editor Stéphane Charbonnier, who was also murdered in the attacks, had dragged the team to death by “overdoing it”.
Organisers of the protest said in a statement released during the three-hour rally: “What had happened in France, the Charlie Hebdo killing, is a moral lesson for the world to respect any kind of religion, especially the religion of Islam.”
Protesters also held up banners saying “we love Muhammed”. The Prophet, whose name is spelt in various ways and is highly-revered in a long succession of others including Adam and Moses.
He is believed by Muslims around the world to come after Jesus as the last messenger of God, to whom the Koran was revealed to from 610 AD over the span of approximately 23 years.
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