Islam: Charlie Hebdo to publish illustrated Life of Muhammad

French weekly claims it is ''not a provocation''

31 December, 10:38

Charlie Hebdo's issue that sparked outrage among Muslims Charlie Hebdo's issue that sparked outrage among Muslims

(ANSAmed) - ROME, DECEMBER 31 - Just over three months following the satirical vignettes which sparked the fury of an Arab world already inflamed by protests against an anti-Islam film, the French weekly Charlie Hebdo is once again focusing on the Prophet Muhammaed with the publication of an illustrated biography of His life. The editors say it will not be offensive.

However, following the provocations to which the weekly has accustomed not only its readers but also the entire Muslim world, concerns are growing that the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo might rekindle the flame of protests rallying against the ''blasphemous West''. ''The Life of Muhammed'' is the title of the special edition on newsstands next Wednesday. It will focus entirely on an illustrated biography of the Prophet. This time, however, the editor-in-chief of the satirical leftist weekly at the centre of the ''cyclone'' over satirical vignettes it published in September, Stephane Charbonnier (known as ''Charb''), said that ''it is not a provocation. It is a biography authorised by Islam, a collection of writings on the life of Muhammed by Muslim writers, transformed into images''. Charb added that ''the idea goes back more than seven years, after the caricatures of Mohamed published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Before you can laugh at a figure you need to know who they are. Compared with what is known about the life of Jesus, nothing is known about Mohamed,'' the editor noted. The co-author of the book, Charlie Hebdo editor and French-Moroccan sociologist 'Zineb', was also reassuring on the matter. She said that the Wednesday issue is not a satire but ''a story based on a rigorous and in-depth bibliography''.

However, many might protest for the simple fact of portraying Mohamed, considered blasphemous in and of itself. ''This is only due to tradition but is absolutely not found in the Quran,'' Charb said, announcing that she had drawn the Prophet as a man since ''Mohamed was a man''. Whether or not Charlie Hebdo will manage to avoid a negative reaction from the Muslim world remains to be seen. Backlashes from similar incidents are by no means unprecedented. In September, the caricatures of the Prophet published while protests were raging against the an anti-Muslim film made in the US gave rise to an onslaught of polemics both inside and outside of France, numerous threats and an attack on the newspaper website. Meanwhile, in November 2011, the weekly's offices were set fire to after the publication of an issue entitled ''Charia Hebdo'', which contained several caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed. (ANSAmed).

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