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When France's Laughter Died
by Stephen Brown
No one at France's national satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, was laughing this week after the publication's Paris offices were destroyed by a firebomb overnight late Tuesday or early Wednesday morning. It is believed Islamists, angry that the editors had named the Prophet Mohammad as guest "editor-in-chief" for this week's edition, were responsible for the attack. The edition was dedicated to a satire of sharia law, but the firebomb assault took place before it had even hit the newsstands on Wednesday.
"We received threats, but no one had seen this edition," said Stephane Charbonnier, the magazine's designer and director. "People reacted violently to the paper yet they were completely ignorant of the edition's contents; that is the most aberrant and idiotic."
The leftist weekly publication, founded in 1960, came up with the idea to satirise sharia law and to honour Mohammad with the editor title after the victory of the Islamist Ennahda party in Tunisia's election last week and the announcement sharia law would be introduced in Libya. The editors proclaimed the upcoming sharia theme in a humorous statement they released in advance that elicited "quite a few letters of protest, threats, insults," on Twitter and Facebook.
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