Residents of Lebanon's Tripoli Denounce Charlie Hebdo Cartoons

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Tripoli, Lebanon

January 16, 2015

Residents of the Muslim-majority city of Tripoli in north Lebanon denounced the caricature that portrays Prohpet Mohammad, published in the first issue of Charlie Hebdo after the attack that killed several of the weekly’s staff members.

This video shows interviews with Muslim men who participated in Friday prayer at Al-Tqwa Mosque in Tripoli, including Salafist Sheikh Salem Al Rifaei, member of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon.

Heavy presence of Lebanese Army and security forces was seen in the main streets of Tripoli during and after the Friday prayer.

Muslims around the world denounced the new Charlie Hebdo published after the deadly shooting. The shooting was carried out on January 7 at the newspaper's offices in Paris by two French Islamist militants and killed 12 persons, including caricaturists and a security officer. The latest issue of the newspaper was published on Wednesday January 14 and featured a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed on the front page.

Shot List

  1. Various of Allah Square in Tripoli
  2. Wide of Lebanese Army vehicles in Allah Square
  3. Medium of Salafist flag in Allah Square
  4. Various of Allah Square
  5. Various of streets
  6. Various of main square
  7. Various of street
  8. Various of Taqwa Mosque
  9. Wide of soldiers outside Taqwa Mosque
  10. Various of street outside Taqwa Mosque
  11. Various of men inside Taqwa Mosque while Sheikh Salem Rafei preaches
  12. Various of street
  13. Various of Taqwa Mosque
  14. Various of men praying
  15. Wide of Sheikh Salem Rafei walking down the stairs surrounded by bodyguards

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Unnamed
I am against these drawings. We are against anything that insults Prophet Mohammad Peace be upon him. We support all religions. We do not accept to say anything about others’ religion and we do not accept that others say anything about our religion. We are Muslims and Christians are our brothers, but we are against any drawing of Prophet Mohammad Peace be Upon him.
This is regretful because we respect the French people. We respect our Christian brothers. We respect all religions. They should also respect us because we form a people. We are not few. There are many of us [who love] Prophet Mohammad. This is unacceptable. There should be uproar in France and other countries. The French authorities should prevent them drawing Prophet Mohammad. That is all what I have to say.
Interviewer: If they did drew the Prophet again
Man: This is will violence from our side. The nation of Mohammad will hate them more because nobody accepts this – neither Jews nor [anyone else].
Lebanon should protest against this. Our muftis who are sleeping should mobilize. My voice will not be heard, but they are important and their voices will be heard.

SOUNDBITE (Man, Arabic) Unnamed
02: 16
What drawings? They drew our Prophet Mohammad. Do these drawings represent Prophet Mohammad?! We as Muslims… When I came to this world I found that parents believe in God, the Prophets and the angels. We do not know the Prophet. Do they know the Prophet? How could they draw him? Do they know him? Do they Jesus, whom they draw? They do not know anything. They are only inciting the crowds against us. They are talking about terrorism, they are terrorists. What they are doing is terrorism. This will start terrorism against them. If there was no terrorism, this will cause terrorism.
(5:21 – 5:36) NAT SOUND, Arabic, Sermon of sheikh Salem Rafei; “… should this be criminalized or considered freedom of expression. This is an insult to religions and hatred of Islam. This is injustice.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Mahmoud al-Rassif
As I said, this harms us and Muslims. We do not accept this.
Interviewer: But 17 people also died because of this. Do you think this is justice?
Mahmoud al-Rassif: This is justice. They doomed themselves.
Interviewer: Do you accept what happened in France? You are also against killing people.
Mahmoud al-Rassif: We are against this. We do not like aggression. No one should attack others’ religion. We have never harmed Prophet Issa [Jesus] peace be upon Him, whom Christians consider their prophet, or even their God – it is their own religion -- is also our prophet and a messenger of God whom we do wish to be harmed. We did not attack you, therefore do not attack us.
SOUNDBITE (Man, Arabic) Abed Abou Arida
We are definitely against [these drawings.] [others standing next to him: “We are all against this”]
Interviewer: Why?
Man: Because God sent the Prophet for the entire world, not only Muslims. Had they known the Prophet, they would never have talked about him like this. They do not know him and have not read about him.
We are not terrorists. This is freedom. We are free just as they are. They should not consider this terrorism. What the men [attackers of Charlie Hebdo office] have done is nothing. This is nothing at all. They should have done more.
Interviewer: What should they have done in your opinion?
Man next standing to bearded man’s left: They should have blown the newspaper up. We consider the [assailants] martyrs, God willing.

SOUNDBITE (Man, Arabic) Abdel Karim Saada
Every person should know that if he assaults the Prophet this way, this is what will happen to him. He will die. God almighty said: “Verily We will suffice unto thee against the mockers.” Even if we did not do anything, God will avenge them. In another verse God says: “Verily We have bestowed on thee Kawthar [a river in Paradise] So pray thou to thy Lord and sacrifice. Truly it is thy traducer who shall be childless.” God shall avenge, if we did not.
SOUNDBITE (Man, Arabic) Mohammad Khalid Fatima, Resident of Tripoli
What do they want? They say that we are terrorists and that we are so and so… They are generating this terrorism. They are manufacturing terrorism it. They are saying to terrorists: “Come and do this.” If someone said: “Peace be upon the prophet Mohammad” and preserved the Prophet, should he then be considered a terrorist?

SOUNDBITE (Man, Arabic) Unnamed, resident of Tripoli
This is not terrorism. This terrorism with kebab… it is not a big deal. Any Muslim is considered a terrorist, no matter what he did. This has been done for the sake of religion. If it was wrong, then may God bless him.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Bahaa Abs Abu Baker, Resident of Tripoli
“Those who insulted our Prophet deserve more than this. If they were still here… may God avenge them! God is greatest! May God avenge every person who described the Prophet in ways that do not befit him. This is the West! They claim to support democracy and freedom of media. God is greatest! May God avenge them.

“They insulted the prophet peace be upon him. They are doing things that God almighty does not accept. They are doing this to say that Muslims have revolted and practiced terrorism. None of this is permissible.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Men) Sheikh Salem el-Rafei, Imam of Takwa Mosque, member of Association of Muslim Scholars

In France in which the French Revolution took place and the scientific renaissance, and where a renaissance started which claims to defend human rights – the human right to choose one’s religion – there is a newspaper that is insulting the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon Him. It would have been better for the French government and the Western governments to condemn this issue. They should not leave the condemnation to us; they should condemn it. This is an insult to all religions, an insult for one and a half billion Muslims around the world.
We say that we feel sorry that the West reaches this level of intellect, at which it insults Muslim symbols, or the greatest symbol for Muslims, and say it is freedom of expression.
We feel sorry that decadence in the West reaches this level.

I think that first of all the French government should investigate this issue, before we say ‘terrorist attack’, a crime or anything else. Investigate the issue. Maybe the men were killed without being interrogated. Without being given the chance to be detained and clear that [bad] image, which shows that Muslims are terrorists and extremists.
I wish that France conducts an investigation, and that media demands the French government to investigate what happened.
France wants Libya’s oil. How could they justify this, it [French government] will say that terrorists came, therefore we can go into Libya and take oil. They do not care about principles or values. They drool when they see oil, the same way the US drooled over Iraqi oil. They said there were weapons of mass destruction but it was all a lie.
I say if France is Christian, it should emulate its pope. If France is Christian, then let it emulate the pope. If it is atheist and does not believe in any religion, then it should not insult any religion. The West cannot say “we are tolerant and accept the other” then insult the other’s religion and prophet. This is not fair and not an example of tolerance. This is intellectual terrorism. What can we call this? Intellectual terrorism.

SOUNDBITE (Man, Arabic) Kamal Rafei, Resident of Tripoli
If they want the newspaper to be sold, then they should improve its level. It is better than sinking to that level just to sell the newspaper. This is proof that your people are superficial. Fifty thousand copies were sold; now, five million copies were sold. This is proof that these people are superficial and not educated.
It is not right to consider that European blood should be preserved while Muslims’ blood is worthless. I lived in Europe, in Germany. These things… you, the people, the intellectuals, journalists and leaders of opinion, you should know the facts and say the truth and stand by the truth. People are not stupid. Otherwise, let be separated. You live in your countries and we will live in ours. Take the seculars and the people with no religion to your country. Whoever admires France’s freedom and debauchery may go and live there.