Volatility of Charlie Hebdo Cover on Display as Protests Erupt in Numerous Countries

Proving that the tensions surrounding recent events in Paris remain complex and will continue to have political and cultural reverberations, protests have taken place in numerous countries in recent days which demonstrate the “Je Suis Charlie” meme clearly has it limits when it comes to unanimous sentiment and interpretation around the world.

As Associated Press reports, protests occurred in Yemen, Sudan, Pakistan, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Somalia, and elsewhere.

Though expressions of global solidarity went out to the victims and the people of France following the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices that took place on January 7, a debate remains underway regarding the relevant lines drawn between freedom of the press, religious incitement, and the tensions that exist between what kinds of speech are protected and what, if any, limits to that speech should be enforced by governments or society. Across Europe, the rise of Islamophobic sentiment has become a worry for both the Muslim community and defenders of religious tolerance.

Following the massacre at their offices, which claimed the lives of ten staffers, Charlie Hebdo featured a depiction of the Prophet Mohammed on the cover of its very next issue, which was released in a record-printing of more than 3 million copies.

In what is widely understood as a reaction to that decision—taken as another signal by some members of the Muslim community that their sensitivities are disregarded while those of others are upheld—the protests in predominantly-Muslim nations have found fertile ground for anger and resentment in recent days.

In the latest example, several people were killed during protests in Niger on Saturday as demonstrators clashed with police for the second straight day.

Dispatches from many of the protests around the world indicated they were impassioned but relatively peaceful demonstrators. In Somalia, Muslim students marched together holding signs which read, “Je Suis Muslim” as they celebrated their religious commitment.


The was violence in Niger, however, with the most severe incidents in Niamey, the capital city of the former French colony, where Muslim citizens clashed with police and government forces. According to reports, several churches and a police station had been attacked and burned.

Reuters reports:

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Regarding some of the demonstrations that have taken place elsewhere, the AP reports:

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