Yemen’s al-Qaeda branch in a YouTube video has officially claimed responsibility for last week’s attack on “Charlie Hebdo” offices in Paris, just as the first issue of the satirical magazine produced since Islamist gunmen slaughtered 12 people at its offices last week started selling thousands of copies minutes after hitting the stands in Paris early Wednesday morning.
In a video posted on YouTube Wednesday, a man identified as Nasr al-Ansi, a top leader of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, said his group planned and financed the “Charlie Hebdo” massacre.
“As for the blessed Battle of Paris, we, the Organization of al-Qaida al Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the Messenger of God,” said Ansi in the recording.
Meanwhile, reaction in the Arab world to the new “Charlie Hebdo” issue is, predictably, split.
Al Azhar, the prestigious Cairo-based educational center for Sunni Muslims, which was among the first Muslim institutions to condemn the massacres last week, said Tuesday that the cartoons “do not serve the peaceful co-existence between peoples and hinders the integration of Muslims into European and Western societies.”
However in Turkey, progressive daily “Cumhuriyet” decided to publish a four-page spread of Charlie Hebdo cartoons, including one of the Prophet Muhammad, prompting police to put up security barricades to block the entrance to the Istanbul street where Cumhuriyet offices are located as a precaution.
Trucks distributing the paper were allowed to leave the premises and take it to newsstands, but only after officials raided the printing press and inspected the copies to make sure the cartoon of Muhammad was not printed on the cover and providing this information to the prosecutor’s office.
Then later in the day, in a heavy-handed reversal, a Turkish court banned Web pages that show the new cover of Charlie Hebdo in Turkey according to the country”s semiofficial news agency Anadolu. Meanwhile riot police continued to keep the roads to Cumhuriyet’s Istanbul headquarters sealed off.