World Bulletin/News Desk
French President Francois Hollande has declared that "Muslims are the first victims of fanaticism" and vowed France will protect all religions in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
In a speech on Thursday at the Arab World Institute in Paris, a week after gunmen killed 12 people at the offices of the satirical magazine in the French capital, he said France was a secular state and united during such difficult times.
He said: "French Muslims have the same rights as all other French people."
"It is Muslims who are the first victims of fanaticism, fundamentalism and intolerance and anti-Muslim acts, like anti-Semitism, should not only be denounced, but severely punished," Hollande said.
His comments came a day after the Union of Islamic Organizations of France called for "a strong gesture from the president to the Muslims of France" who it said had suffered hatred and attacks from anti-Muslim groups.
Hollande warned against stigmatization in France.
The president said: "We must also remember that Islam is compatible with democracy and France must reject radicalism and confusion."
"France is a secular society and intends to protect all religions. We have the obligation to protect them."
"The law must be firmly enforced in places of worship such as churches, mosques, and synagogues," Hollande added.
He pointed out the attacks had nothing to do with Islam and that all the sufferings are caused by extremist ideas.
'True face of Islam'
Muslims should avoid provocation and show the "true face" of Islam to others following the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, officials from the French Council of the Muslim Faith have said.
Dalil Boubaker, President of the Paris-based French Council of the Muslim Faith, made the comments on Thursday amid ongoing debate over the nature of freedom of speech and expression following the attacks on the satirical magazine.
He told Anadolu Agency: "The drawings published by the magazine may lead to various provocations."
"There have earlier been attacks against our Prophet and religion, and such attacks still continue to happen."
His comments came a day after the magazine printed five millions copes of a special edition a week after the attacks, with its cover depicting Prophet Muhammad in a white dress and shedding a tear, holding up a sign reading, “Je suis Charlie,” below the headline "All is forgiven" which again stirred controversy in the Muslim world.
He stated that both the Islamic and French law respected freedom of speech and said that, while the Muslim community had been shocked on several occasions by drawings published by the magazine, they had turned to their legal rights as a remedy and opened cases in court.
The Vice President of the council, Ahmet Ogras, said Muslims should work together as Islamophobia was spreading quite quickly in Europe.
He said: "The best answer is to explain to these people the true face of our religion."
"A lot of things done ‘in the name of Islam’ have nothing to do with our religion."
The call came as it was disclosed that a founding member of Charlie Hebdo, 80-year-old Henri Roussel, had accused its editor Stéphane Charbonnier, or "Charb" - who was killed in last weeks' massacre - of "dragging the team" to their deaths by continuing to release cartoons known to be provocative for Muslims.
Roussel, who was involved with the first issue of the magazine in 1970 when it was entitled Hara-Kiri Hebdo, said to Charbonnier in a letter in reference to his decision in 2011 to print on the magazine's front cover a caricature of Prophet Muhammad: "I really hold it against you."
Writing in this week's French magazine Nouvel Obs under the pen name Delfeil de Ton, Roussel wrote: "What made him feel the need to drag the team into overdoing it?"
"I believe that we are fools who took an unnecessary risk. That’s it."
"We think we are invulnerable. For years, decades even, it was a provocation and then one day the provocation turns against us," he added.
The latest Hebdo edition sold out rapidly in France on Wednesday with long queues forming at shops and newsstands across the country.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Ocak 2015, 16:47