To coincide with the rise of Islamists in Tunisia and Libya, Hebdo Charlie, a popular satirical weekly that's pushed the envelope in the past, has invited a guest editor-in-chief for a special edition: The Prophet. And yes, they say, he believes
PARIS - The French satirical weekly "Charlie Hebdo" is publishing a special edition this week to "celebrate the victory" of the Tunisian Islamist party Ennahda.
The special edition, on newsstands Tuesday, is called "Charia Hebdo" (Sharia Weekly) as a nod to both Ennahda's victory in Tunisia and promises made by new Libyan leaders that the country's new laws would be based on Islamic law Sharia.
The gag included the offering of the guest "editor-in-chief" slot for the special issue to the Prophet, who immediately accepted under one condition splashed on the front page: "100 lashes if you're not dying of laughter."
The special edition features an editorial by the Prophet on "Hallal drinks," two pages of drawings to illustrate the concept of "soft Sharia" and even a supplement for women: "Sharia Madame." The last page features "the covers that you were spared," which includes a drawing of the Prophet with a red clown nose and this comment: "Yes, Islam is compatible with humor."
The cover created a buzz as soon as it hit social networks. Not everyone was pleased with the idea. Some voiced their discontent on Twitter. "We wonder what we're supposed to do not to shock people," said Charlie Hebdo" managing editor and cartoonist, Charb, who goes by one name. "We don't feel like we were being provocative. We just see it as doing our job as usual. The only difference this week is that the Prophet is on the cover and that's rare for him to be on the cover."
In February 2006, Charlie Hebdo was taken to court following the publication of the Prophet's caricatures. French Islamic organizations called them offensive, but the charges were dropped.
"It's a shame that newsrooms only go to extremes on covers referring to Islam or the Prophet," said Charb. According to him the paper was merely "commenting on news," without "representing the Prophet as an extremist."
Read more in Nouvel Observateur in French
*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations