Middle East studies in the News
Charlie Hebdo Receives Death Threats Over Tariq Ramadan Front Page
by Henry Samuel
French police are investigating death threats against satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo over a cartoon of Oxford scholar Tariq Ramadan, who is facing rape allegations.
The provocative magazine, which suffered a deadly jihadist attack in January 2015 after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, depicted Ramadan its edition last Wednesday in an explicit pose, with the caption: "I am the sixth pillar of Islam."
The five pillars of Islam are the five basic practices obligatory for believers: faith, prayer, charity, fasting, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
A minority of Sunni scholars considers jihad, or holy struggle - which can have different meanings - to be the sixth pillar of Islam.
Mr Ramadan, who has Swiss nationality and is seen as a controversial conservative Islamic intellectual in France, has been accused of rape by two women after the Harvey Weinstein scandalsparked a wave of sexual abuse accusations around the planet.
The 55-year-old has vigorously denied the accusations as a "campaign of lies launched by my adversaries".
"Rape," reads the caption on Charlie Hebdo's cover. "The defence of Tariq Ramadan."
Laurent "Riss" Sourisseau, the magazine's editor, said the threats and hate mail had "never really stopped" after the January 2015 jihadist attack in which 12 people were gunned down at its offices.
"Sometimes there are peaks when we receive explicit death threats on social media - this has been the case once again," he told Europe 1 radio.
"It's always difficult to know if these are serious threats or not, but as a principle, we take them seriously and press charges."
However, he suggested the climate had worsened. "Calls to murder have become commonplace," he said.
Plantu, one of France's most famous editorial cartoonists, said: "It's great this drawing. I don't see what people have against it. He's got a big d*** and says I'm the sixth pillar of Islam. They're just having a bit of fun."
Libération, the left-leaning daily that housed Charlie Hebdo's editorial team after the Islamist attack, offered its support once again.
In an editorial, Laurent Joffrin, said those sending death threats had missed the point.
"An attack against Islam? In fact, against Ramadan, mocked as a Tartuffe with a big d*** who contradicts the very principles he is supposed to teach and which are not, by the way, targeted by Charlie. But subtlety is not bigots' strong point."
The shooting at Charlie Hebdo was claimed by Al-Qaeda, which it targeted for printing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, forbidden in Islam.
It was the first in a wave of jihadist attacks in France over the past two years that have left more than 240 people dead.
Despite losing many of its star names, Charlie Hebdo has soldiered on and lost none of its biting - some say hurtful - humour, making light, for example, of a recent earthquake in Italy that killed nearly 300 people.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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