Israeli book chain cancels in-store promotion of special Charlie Hebdo cartoon issue
An Israeli book chain has dropped plans for an in-store promotion for the latest edition of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, with a cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed, local media said Saturday.
Public Radio said that the Steimatzky chain had intended to hold a promotional event in a branch in the Tel Aviv area but later decided that orders for the issue — which has sparked sometimes deadly protests across the Muslim world — would now be taken only through its website.
The radio quoted the firm as saying it had not received threats or come under pressure but had changed its plans due to complaints from customers living far from the Tel Aviv area who would be unable to buy the magazine in person.
Internet news site Ynet said the issue would go on sale on Monday and continue for as long as stocks last.
The radio said purchases would be limited to two per customer due to limited supplies.
Ynet quoted Israeli Arab MP Masoud Ganaim as warning Steimatzky and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that selling the cartoon issue could have grave consequences in Israel, where about 20 percent of the population is Arab, mostly Muslim, and religious passions run high.
“This is a very serious, dangerous and stupid step, Ynet quoted him as saying. “This is not freedom of expression but a blow to the holy of holies of Muslims which will bring about anger among the Muslims and (other) Arabs in the country.”
The contentious cartoon was published by Charlie Hebdo a week after a January 7 attack by Islamist gunmen at its Paris headquarters killed 12 people.
Depictions of the prophet are considered forbidden in Islam.