Muslims in Italy react to new Charlie Hebdo

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The first edition of Charlie Hebdo since last week's attacks was published on Wednesday. Photo: AFP
18:15 CET+01:00
With three million copies of Charlie Hebdo's latest issue sold out by Wednesday afternoon and two million more scheduled to be printed, The Local asked Muslims in Italy what they thought about the magazine's contentious cartoons.

It was the first issue of the satirical magazine to be printed since 12 of its staff were shot dead by two Islamists last week.

The cover depicts a man supposed to represent the Prophet Muhammad holding up a sign which reads, "Je suis Charlie".

Above the image are the words "Tout est pardonné", meaning "All is forgiven".

The edition was also made available in English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish.

While Zineb El Rhazoui, a surviving columnist said on Tuesday that the cover was a call to forgive the terrorists who killed her colleagues, some argue that the image is “in bad taste”.

“It’s not a question of whether or not it’s an insult, it’s a question of acknowledging the sensitivities of others, and good taste,” Elzir Izzedin, the president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy and Imam of Florence, told The Local.

“It’s about taking responsibility,” he added, while calling on the Muslim community to “keep calm” in their reaction and “be patient”.

Il Giornale, a Milan daily owned by the family of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, carried the cover image on its front page on Tuesday while La Repubblica published a photo of the surviving staff holding a copy of the magazine.

Meanwhile, 260,000 copies were distributed in Italy with the daily newspaper, Il Fatto Quotidiano, on Wednesday while a further 200,000 will be available at newsstands tomorrow.

Ejaz Ahmad, a Pakistani cultural mediator and journalist who has lived in Italy for 25 years, told The Local he would not be buying a copy.

“I don’t want to buy Charlie Hebdo. I think it’s distasteful,” he said.

“But at the same time I believe in freedom in journalism.”

He added that there is currently an “identity crisis" in the Muslim world, and that such images “provoke reaction from extremists”.

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Mizan, a Muslim from Bangladesh who has lived in Italy for five years, said: “I haven’t seen the cartoon but what happened in France was terrible. We are not like this. Here in Italy, we just want to get on with our lives in a quiet way.”

Sumon, also from Bangladesh, sells jewellery from a stand on a street in Rome.

“I start work at 8am every day and I finish late at night,” he told The Local.

“I don’t care about the cartoon. My main priorities are work, making a living to be able to eat and pay the rent, and my family. Most Muslims I know here have the same priority.” 

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