The office of Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was set ablaze last night at around 1am, protesting the satirical magazine's cartoons in the the latest issue that "celebrated" the victory of moderate Islamist party An-Nahda in Tunisia and the announcement that Sharia law would be the foundation of the new post-Ghadaffi Libyan state. The most controversial was on the front page, where the magazine portrayed its "guest editor", the prophet Muhammad, accompanied by the phrase "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter."
The fire was reportedly started by a petrol bomb thrown through a window, and the publication's website was also hacked to display an image of Mecca.
The magazine strongly supports "Laïcité", the idea of secularism in society, and launched this satirical bombardment on religious law in response to current events in North Africa. Some of the cartoons included in the magazine are shown on Le Monde's website.
Le Monde interviewed Sylvie Coma, the Assistant Managing Editor of the magazine, who said the staff are "in shock because everything is destroyed. And a certain incomprehension prevails amongst the team."
Mohammed Moussaoui, President of the Conseil français du culte musulman (CFCM) (The French Council for Muslim Worship), told Le Monde: "We understand that freedom of expression matters for cartoonists, but also for those who disagree with the cartoon, if this disagreement is expressed with respect for the law and for the value of people and property; for nothing justifies acting outside of the law."
According to The Guardian, French Interior minister Claude Guéant has commented: You like or you don't like Charlie Hebdo, but it's a newspaper. Press freedom is sacrosanct for the French." He added that all French people should feel solidarity towards the magazine.