London : The office of French weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris was destroyed in a petrol-bomb attack early Wednesday, a day after it named Prophet Mohammed as its “editor-in-chief” for this week’s issue, the Telegraph reported.
The magazine said the move was intended to celebrate the victory of Islamist party Ennhada in Tunisia’s election.
Charlie Hedbo’s editor-in-chief, known as Charb, told France Info radio: “We no longer have a newspaper. All our equipment has been destroyed or has melted.”
No injuries were reported after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the office around 1 a.m. The ensuing fire was put out, but a large quantity of material was destroyed, police said.
“We cannot, today, put together a paper. But we will do everything possible to do one next week. Whatever happens, we’ll do it. There is no question of giving in,” said Charb.
Europe 1 radio said police were searching for two suspects seen near the scene.
Charlie Hebdo’s website was also hacked with a message in English and Turkish cursing the magazine.
The message said: “You keep abusing Islam’s almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons, using excuses of freedom of speech. Be God’s curse upon you!”
Charb said the attackers reacted violently without even reading the magazine.
“The arsonists haven’t read this paper, nobody knows what’s in the paper except those who buy it this morning. People are reacting violently to a paper without knowing anything of its contents, that’s what’s most abhorrent and stupid,” he told BFM TV.
Ennahda won the most seats in Tunisia’s October elections and is now trying to form a coalition caretaker government.
“To fittingly celebrate the victory of the Islamist Ennahda party in Tunisia… Charlie Hebdo has asked Mohammed to be the special editor-in-chief of its next issue”, the magazine said.
“The prophet of Islam didn’t have to be asked twice and we thank him for it,” the statement said.
The cover of this week’s issue shows Prophet Mohammed saying: “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter.”
The magazine also included an editorial by the Prophet titled “Halal Aperitif”.
Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM), said he “firmly condemned” the arson attack if it proved criminal.