The publication of a charicature of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed by French magazine Charlie Hebdo has divided the country’s Jewish community, with some supporting the weekly in the name of freedom of speech whilst others condemn it for adding fuel to the rioting that has engulfed the Muslim World after a US-made YouTube video depicted the prophet as a bloodthirsty womanizer.
Dozens of people have been killed in riots that broke out across Asia and the Middle East in response to the publication.
Both the CRIF – a body that represents all French Jewish organisations – and the National Office of Vigilance Against anti-Semitism have condemned, calling it “irresponsible” and “abuse of the right to freedom of expression”.
But both the Union of Jewish Students and SOS Racism voiced their support for the publication and criticized “the reaction of public authorities that have condemned” instead of “safeguarding freedom of expression”.
Many fear that this latest provocation will serve to further inflame tensions between religious communities in France, in particular between Jews and Muslims. Instances of anti-Semitism have increased since the beginning of the year, and only this weekend a bomb was detonated outside a Jewish kosher supermarket in a Parisian suburb.
Security has been stepped up amid fears of more protests, however no disturbances have been reported so far.