Paris: Police say a fire has caused serious damages at the headquarters of a satiric French newspaper that "invited" the Prophet Muhammad as a guest editor this week.
A police official said the fire broke out overnight on Tuesday at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, and the cause remains unclear. No injuries were reported. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because an investigation into the fire is under way.
"The building is still standing. The problem is there`s nothing left inside," Stephane Charbonnier, editor of the weekly Charlie Hebdo said.
Newspaper employees said they had received many threats as a result of the issue, subtitled "Sharia Hebdo”, in reference to Islamic law.
The weekly magazine’s latest edition will be full of jokes about Islamic revolutionaries, with the slogan on the front page saying ‘100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter’.
According to the Daily Mail, the page contains a depiction of Mohammed wearing a red nose, and the words, ‘Yes, Islam is compatible with humour.’
The special edition also features an editorial ‘by the Prophet’ about Halal drinks, and there are features on ‘soft Sharia’, as well as a women’s section called ‘Sharia Madame’.
Ahmed Dabi, a leading French Muslim rights campaigner, said the magazine is deliberately trying to provoke anger and unhappiness against Muslims.
“People will read it and come away with a very negative opinion of a worldwide religion. If a similar magazine was produced about Christianity, then Christians would rightly complain,” Dabi said.
A spokesman for the magazine, however, had said the magazine is not provocative at all.
“We don’t feel like we are 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 it’s rare for him to be on the cover,” the spokesman said.
The cover of the magazine is already circulating on social media sites like Twitter.
Many Muslims find it offensive that any magazine or newspaper should feature Prophet`s image.
A similar incident in 2005 had caused much furore among Muslims when a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed was printed in a Danish newspaper. Fifty people had died in the protests.
(With Agencies` inputs)