Israeli Chain Drops Charlie Hebdo Promotion

Steimatzky drops plans for an in-store promotion for the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo, but says it is not due to threats.

Ben Ariel ,

Steimatzky store
Steimatzky store
Moshe Shai/Flash 90

Israeli book chain Steimatzky 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, AFP reported on Saturday, citing local media.

Kol Yisrael radio said the 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.

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said the issue would go on sale on Monday and continue for as long as stocks last.

According to Kol Yisrael radio, purchases would be limited to two per customer due to limited supplies.

The magazine’s last edition, the first one published after its headquarters were targeted by Islamist terrorists, showed the Prophet Mohammed with a tear in his eye, under the headline "All is forgiven".

He holds a sign reading "Je suis Charlie", the slogan that has become a global rallying cry for those expressing sympathy for the victims and support for freedom of speech.

The magazine’s new issue sold out across France in record time, but the Muslim world has not been as sympathetic.

The Afghan Taliban condemned its publication of further Mohammed cartoons and praised the gunmen, saying they were "bringing the perpetrators of the obscene act to justice".

Angry opponents in countries from Pakistan and Turkey, the Philippines and Mauritania staged protests over the new cartoons.

A Turkish court ordered a block on websites featuring images of the cover, while Senegal said it was banning the dissemination of Charlie Hebdo and the French daily Liberation, which also put a cartoon of the Mohammed on the front page.

Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Arab MK Masoud Ganaim as warning Steimatzky and Prime Minister Binyamin 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. 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," he declared.