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Geopolitics

French Magazine Firebombed Over Muhammad Cartoons Goes For Round Two

LE MONDE, i-TELE ( France), RTL (Luxembourg)

Worldcrunch

PARIS - Riot police have been sent to guard the offices of controversial French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in preparation of their publication of cartoons mocking Islam's Prophet Muhammad Wednesday.

The French weekly yesterday announced it would publish satirical cartoons of the prophet in this week's edition. The cartoon portrays the prophet in a wheelchair pushed by a caricature of a Jewish man. The publication is a response to the continuing violence in the Muslim world over the film the Innocence of Muslims, and a move to promote the freedom of the press.

Charlie Hebdo last year similarly ran an issue that was "guest-edited" by the Prophet Muhammad, dubbed Sharia Hebdo. The publication provoked a scandal in France and the magazine's offices in Paris were subsequently firebombed.

French officials have announced they will close embassies and French schools in 20 countries around the world, fearing the publication will inflame tensions.

URGENT - CARICATURES DE MAHOMET : #Paris fermera ses ambassades et ses écoles dans 20 pays vendredi f24.my/S5nAtc #CharlieHebdo

— FRANCE 24 (@FRANCE24) September 19, 2012

French politicians have appealed to the magazine to change direction. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is currently in Cairo, has condemned the magazine's publication in a time of such hostility, reports i-Télé. However, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has affirmed that freedom of speech is a fundamental principle.

The magazine's editor, who goes by the name Charb, spoke to European-wide radio RTL: "If we start to ask questions now about whether or not we have the right to draw Muhammad, if it's dangerous or not, the next questions is going to be: "Can we show images of Muslims in the paper?" Then the question after that will be: "Can we show images of people in the paper?" etc. And then at the end, we won't be representing anything and this form of extremism that is happening around the world will have won."

This week, American weekly news magazine Newsweek also provoked derision over its insensitive coverage of the continuing violence and its sensationalist headline "Muslim Rage," reports Le Monde.

The magazine asked readers to give their opinions, however the move backfired with netizens rather using the hashtag "#MuslimRage" to poke fun.

Man next to me on subway reading Koran on his Samsung Galaxy tablet just offered his seat to an older lady. #MUSLIMRAGE truly affects us all

— Andy Greenberg (@a_greenberg) September 18, 2012

You lose your nephew at the airport but you can't yell his name because it's JIHAD. #muslimrage

— Hijabi Girl (@HijabiGrlPrblms) September 17, 2012

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

What Are Iran's Real Intentions? Watch What The Houthis Do Next

Three commercial ships traveling through the Red Sea were attacked by missiles launched by Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels, while the U.S. Navy shot down three drones. Tensions that are linked to the ongoing war in Gaza conflict and that may serve as an indication as to Iran's wider intentions.

photo of Raisi of iran speaking in parliament

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at the Iranian parliament in Tehran.

Icana News Agency via ZUMA
Pierre Haski

-Analysis

PARIS — It’s a parallel war that has so far claimed fewer victims and attracted less public attention than the one in Gaza. Yet it increasingly poses a serious threat of escalating at any time.

This conflict playing out in the international waters of the Red Sea, a strategic maritime route, features the U.S. Navy pitted against Yemen's Houthi rebels. But the stakes go beyond the Yemeni militants — with the latter being supported by Iran, which has a hand in virtually every hotspot in the region.

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Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, the Houthis have been making headlines, despite Yemen’s distance from the Gaza front. Starting with missiles launched directed toward southern Israel, which were intercepted by U.S. forces. Then came attacks on ships belonging, or suspected of belonging, to Israeli interests.

On Sunday, no fewer than three commercial ships were targeted by ballistic missiles in the Red Sea. The missiles caused minor damage and no casualties. Meanwhile, three drones were intercepted and destroyed by the U.S. Navy, currently deployed in full force in the region.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for these attacks, stating their intention to block Israeli ships' passage for as long as there was war in Gaza. The ships targeted on Sunday were registered in Panama, but at least one of them was Israeli. In the days before, several other ships were attacked and an Israeli cargo ship carrying cars was seized, and is still being held in the Yemeni port of Hodeida.

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