A man holds a placard that reads "I am Charlie" as members of the European Parliament and citizens gather during a minute of silence for victims of the shooting at the Paris offices of weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. (Reuters)
Ready To Pay Rs. 51 Cr Reward to Charlie Hebdo Attackers, Says Haji Yakoob Qureshi
Top Qatari Editor Urges Muslims ‘Not To Apologize’ For Paris Shooting
Islamic State Fighter Praises Attack on Paris Satirical Magazine
After Shooting, Danish Paper to Print Charlie Hebdo Cartoons On Islam
Abbas Says 'Heinous Crime' In Paris Goes Against Religion, Morality
Global Condemnation, Solidarity after 'Barbaric' Paris Attack
Islamist Turkish Dailies Draw Ire after Charlie Hebdo Attack
Erdoğan Condemns Paris Attack, Urges 'Firm Stance against Intolerance'
Attackers at French Newspaper Seen As Trained Islamist Fighters
Average Mohamed Counters Terror Message with Cartoon Videos
Indian President, PM Condemn Terror Attack
French Islamic Groups Urge Muslims to Observe Moments Of Silence
Paris Shooting Triggers Attacks on Muslim Targets
Paris Gunmen ‘Trained By Pros’: Terror Experts
Is Paris Shooting Linked to France’s Mideast Anti-Terror Drive?
Hollywood Backs French Magazine after Massacre
Charlie Hebdo Will Come Out Next Week, Despite Bloodbath
French far-right leader calls for death penalty in Paris shooting aftermath
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Muslim Unions, Leaders Condemn ‘Barbaric’ Paris Attack
8 January 2015
In the aftermath of Wednesday’s extremist attack in Paris, Muslim unions and leaders expressed outrage at the “barbaric” targeting of the Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters, which left 12 people dead.
The French Muslim Council (CFCM) condemned the attack, describing it as “an extremely grave barbaric action.”
CFCM said the bloody shooting was also “an attack against democracy and the freedom of the press.”
The Muslim Council of France, and of Britain, also denounced the attack.
“This is a thunderous declaration of war. The times have changed. We’re entering a new phase of this confrontation… we are horrified by the brutality and the savagery,” One imam at the mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, was quoted by The Spectator as saying.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the U.S.’ largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, offered its “sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed or injured in this attack.
“We also call for the swift apprehension of the perpetrators, who should be punished to the full extent of the law,” it said.
CAIR also added that “we strongly condemn this brutal and cowardly attack and reiterate our repudiation of any such assault on freedom of speech, even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures.”
It added: “The proper response to such attacks on the freedoms we hold dear is not to vilify any faith, but instead to marginalize extremists of all backgrounds who seek to stifle freedom and to create or widen societal divisions.”
The Islamic Cooperation Organization (ICO) also “condemned in the strongest words the terrorist attack targeting Charlie Hebdo magazine.”
The 57-member organization said terrorist acts represent Islam’s “biggest enemy” and are “incompatible with Islamic values and all human principles and ethics.”
“OIC hopes that the culprits would soon be apprehended and presented to justice in France, conveying condolences to the families of the victims, the French government and people and wishing the injured quick recovery.”
The Muslim Canadian Congress also deplored the attack while the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) said justice must be served immediately.
“We are absolutely shocked and horrified by what happened. It is an absolute tragedy and it is a crime,” NCCM human rights co-ordinator Amira Elghawaby told Yahoo Canada News.
“We are shaken up by what happened in Paris today. Our hearts and thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and the injured. We are hoping that whoever did this – the perpetrators of this crime – are quickly brought to justice.”
The Arab League and al-Azhar, one of the Sunni Muslim world’s most prominent Islamic institutions, were also among many countries and international organizations that strongly condemned the attack.
On Twitter, Muslims expressed their condemnation and outrage.
Ready To Pay Rs. 51 Cr Reward to Charlie Hebdo Attackers, Says Haji Yakoob Qureshi
S Raju, Hindustan Times Meerut, January 08, 2015
Whoever dare show disrespect for Prophet will invite death like the cartoonists and journalists of Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Haji Yakoob Qureshi has said.
“Rasul ke ashiq unhe saja de dete hai (followers of Prophet punish them),” the former Uttar Pradesh minister said on Thursday, reacting to Islamic clerics’ views that the religion had no place for violence.
“Those who dare insult Prophet Mohammed deserve death and there is no need to initiate legal procedure against them.” He said the Prophet spread the message of peace and love.
Qureshi had hit the headlines in 2006 after declaring a reward of Rs. 51 crore for anyone who would kill the Danish cartoonist who had created a controversial cartoon of Prophet Mohammed. He had made the offer at a public rally in Meerut.
Reacting to Wednesday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo, Qureshi said he was ready to pay the reward money to the attackers. “I am ready to pay the money if they come and demand the declared reward.”
Qureshi’s controversial statement is likely to come under police glare. Uttar Pradesh additional director general (law and order) of police Mukul Goel said, “We can initiate action against him only after examining his statement under the purview of law.”
Four of France's most famous cartoonists were among the dozen people murdered Wednesday when gunmen attacked the Paris offices Charlie Hebdo, French prosecutors said.
The magazine gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted cartoons of Prophet Mohammed that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, causing fury across the Muslim world.
Top Qatari Editor Urges Muslims ‘Not To Apologize’ For Paris Shooting
8 January 2015
The editor-in-chief of a major Qatari newspaper has stirred controversy on Twitter after urging Muslims "not to apologize" for the killing of journalists in Paris, claiming that "France was looking for an excuse to intervene in Libya.”
“Don't apologize for a crime you did not commit,” said Abdullah Al Athba, prominent Qatari journalist and Editor-in-chief Al Arab newspaper, in a twitter statement.
In another tweet, Al Athba shared a comment by one of his followers that read: "Why should Muslims apologize? when the London mosque was tortured no one called on Christians or Britons to apologize.”
Al Athba meanwhile stated that France was looking for justifications for a military intervention in Libya.
“It seems that France wants to invade Libya with the excuse of 'fighting terrorism' after it occupied Mali under the same excuse and this operation is a suitable pretext to kill Muslims."
He also suggested there could be a link between what he said was an increase in attacks on Mosques across Europe and the latest attack on the French newspaper's offices.
Al Athba told Al Arabiya News in an email statement that: “Attacking innocents is unacceptable and should be condemned and I am against the killing of my fellow journalists.”
“But why is the issue being linked Islam and Muslims? There are extremist Christians as there are extremist Jews, yet no one asks the Church for example to condemn attacks on Muslims and Mosques in Sweden and hatred campaigns against Muslims in Germany.”
“So why do we as Muslims have to apologize for a crime we have not committed? We have to deal with the individual or individuals who committed a crime without regard to their religion, especially that punishment in law only applies to the perpetrator,” he added.
“The French judiciary is supposed to deal with the case without politicizing it or taking it as an excuse against Muslims in France or in the West or elsewhere,” Al Athba continued.
Al Athba's comments were criticized by several of his followers, with one Twitter user (Takhabbatasiran) replying: “Does France need this operation to intervene in Libya, give us a break.”
“Man, spare us your analyses,” said another user (AldosariFfqatar), before suggesting that such comments could create a crisis for Qatar with France.
Yasser Abdel Aziz, a Cairo-based media analyst, said Arab journalists should first condemn “any attack on journalism and journalists from any source.”
“Second, they should not rush into conclusions on the incident and its perpetrators until evidence is unveiled,” he added.
“What happened is a massive assault on the press and the freedom of press,” he said. “And this assault follows a series of attacks and violations on the press and journalists in different parts of the world, which appeared to increase over the past few years, from different sources, including governments, and extremist groups.”
He explained that “unsound or surprise reactions” from some Arab journalists or media figures could be attributed to “uncertainties” in the Arab world toward “Western political and media behavior toward the situation of extremism in the Middle East.”
The Arab League and Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world's top religious institution, strongly condemned the deadly shooting by the black-hooded gunmen.
“Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi strongly condemns the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris,” the League said.
In remarks carried by Egypt's state news agency MENA, Al-Azhar said: “Islam denounces any violence.”
Saudi Arabia has also condemned the shooting at the French newspaper in Paris.
The official SPA news agency carried a statement saying: “Saudi Arabia denounces this cowardly terrorist act which Islam as well as other religions reject.”
“[Saudi Arabia] offers its condolences to the families of the victims as well as the government and people of the French republic and wishes a speedy recovery for the wounded,” the statement added.
Islamic State fighter praises attack on Paris satirical magazine
January 08, 2015
BEIRUT/DUBAI (Reuters) - A fighter of the Islamic State militant group praised Wednesday's attack on a French satirical magazine that killed at least 12 people, telling Reuters the raid was revenge for insults against Islam.
Hooded gunmen stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in the worst militant assault on French soil in recent decades. The dead included top editors at Charlie Hebdo, a publication renowned for lampooning Islam, as well as two police officers.
"The lions of Islam have avenged our Prophet," said Abu Mussab, a Syrian who fights with the Islamic State, which has captured broad swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory.
"These are our lions. It's the first drops - more will follow," he said, speaking via an internet connection from Syria. He added that he and his fellow fighters were happy about the incident.
"Let these crusaders be scared because they should be."
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.
Abu Mussab said he did not know the gunmen who carried out the attack, but added "they are on the path of the emir .... and our Sheikh Osama (bin Laden)."
His reference to the emir is to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose group is a powerful anti-government paramilitary force in both Iraq and Syria and has a growing network of followers elsewhere in the Middle East and Asia.
Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in 2011.
In 2013 the Yemen wing of al Qaeda published a notice called “Wanted Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam” featuring several outspoken critics of Islam, including Stephane Charbonnier, the editor of Charlie Hebdo, who was killed on Wednesday.
On the Twitter social media site, militant sympathizers expressed profound satisfaction.
One wrote: "Oh dog of the Romans in France, by God, by God, by God, we will not stop at targeting Charlie Hebdo magazine. What is coming is worse."
The Arabic phrases #parisburns and #revengefortheprophet were among the hashtags used by many admirers of the shooting.
One supporter tweeted, "The word of Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest) shakes Paris". Another wrote: "Bravo lone wolves:".
A Twitter account called al-Marsad, which says it tracks news in the Islamic world, praised the attack: "Your planes strike Muslim children with impunity ... And our lions roam your streets.
A more nuanced message came from prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He wrote: "Charlie Hebdo is a satirical journal, nothing is sacred to it. It was abusive to Jesus Christ and the symbols of all religions and we as Muslims reject that - but to them this is freedom of expression."
Early reaction from governments in Muslim countries was unreservedly critical.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu strongly condemned the shooting and said to associate Islam with terrorism would be a mistake. He called for a fight against both extremism and Islamophobia.
"Our religion is a religion of peace ... We are against all forms of terrorism," he told reporters in Ankara.
Condemnation also came from Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, the Egyptian government and Egypt's leading Islamic authority, Al-Azhar.
(Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Orhan Coskun Mustafa Hashem and Mark Hosenball; Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Dominic Evans)
After shooting, Danish paper to print Charlie Hebdo cartoons on Islam
8 January 2015
COPENHAGEN - The Danish newspaper Berlingske has republished cartoons on Islamic themes from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, as part of its coverage of the attack which killed 12 people in Paris on Wednesday.
The Thursday print edition of Berlingske, available online on Wednesday night, showed several past front pages from the French magazine. Among them was one depicting the Prophet Mohammad and another about sharia law.
Such images provoked angry reactions from some Muslims when originally published by Charlie Hebdo, and footage of the Wednesday killings at the magazine's offices showed gunmen shouting "we have avenged the Prophet Mohammad".
Berlingske's Editor in Chief Lisbeth Knudsen said her newspaper's action in republishing the cartoons was not a protest.
Abbas says 'heinous crime' in Paris goes against religion, morality
8 January 2015
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Wednesday's terrorist attack in Paris which left 12 people dead and several others injured after hooded gunmen stormed the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine.
Abbas sent a letter to French President Francois Hollande strongly condemning the "heinous crimes" committed in Paris, which he said went against religion and morality.
Abbas also expressed his condolences on behalf of the Palestinian people to the families of the victims and those injured.
Global condemnation, solidarity after 'barbaric' Paris attack
8 January 2015
The U.N. Security Council led global condemnation of the "terrorist" shooting at French magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 8 which left 12 people dead, in a shocking attack on freedom of speech in Europe.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II offered their condolences to those affected after masked men armed with Kalashnikov automatic rifles opened fire at the Paris offices of the satirical weekly.
Pope Francis said there could be no justification for "the horrible attack that plunged the city of Paris into mourning."
The Committee to Protect Journalists said the shooting was a "brazen assault on free expression in the heart of Europe", while Reporters Without Borders called it a "black day."
On social media, people across the world showed their solidarity with the publication by posting the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie - "I am Charlie".
Tens of thousands also rallied in cities across France and Europe in a show of solidarity with the victims.
French President François Hollande condemned as a "terrorist attack" the massacre at the publication, which has been in confrontation for years with Islamists who accused it of attacking their religion through cartoons.
Hollande's characterisation of the incident was echoed by the 15-member U.N. Security Council, which condemned the "barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack".
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the "horrendous, unjustifiable and cold-blooded crime" was "meant to divide. We must not fall into that trap."
Obama said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrorist attack and the people of France at this difficult time." U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry later addressed the people of France in televised remarks in French, saying: "All Americans stand by your side."
In Rome, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi went to the French embassy to say: "We are all French, because we think freedom is the only 'raison d'etre' of Europe and European citizens."
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the attack was "sickening", while German Chancellor Angela Merkel called it "despicable", sentiments reflected across European capitals.
In a rare statement on international events, Queen Elizabeth offered her "sincere condolences" to those affected by the attack.
There was also condemnation from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the Chinese foreign ministry among others.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his part called for global unity to fight the "scourge" of radical Islam.
Iran also condemned the massacre but reiterated its criticism of the magazine's 2006 publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
"Making use of freedom of expression... to humiliate the monotheistic religions and their values and symbols is unacceptable," foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told the official IRNA news agency.
The gunmen were heard to shout "we have avenged the prophet" and "Allahu akbar" ("God is greatest"), according to French police.
Egypt's Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's most prestigious centre of learning, called the attack "criminal" and said "Islam denounces any violence", while the Arab League also condemned the attack.
The foreign ministry of Qatar, which is accused of backing radical Islamic groups, added: "Such acts that target unarmed civilians contradict all principles and moral and human values."
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoğlu said his country condemned all forms of "terror", but said terrorism and increasing Islamophobia in Europe were "interconnected".
"We must fight against increasing racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe which threaten all our values. We must also fight against any form of terrorism," he said.
In Mali, where the French military launched an offensive in 2013 against radical Islamist groups, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita condemned "the attack against democracy and freedom" and reaffirmed his country's commitment in the fight against terrorism.
Salman Rushdie, the British-Indian writer who was forced into hiding in 1989 after Iran issued a death sentence on him for allegedly insulting Islam, hailed Charlie Hebdo's style.
"I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity," he said.
He added: "Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect."
Media rights groups also criticised the attack.
"The scale of the violence is appalling," said Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
"Journalists must now stand together to send the message that such murderous attempts to silence us will not stand."
Security was reportedly stepped up Wednesday at the Danish newspaper that provoked angry and sometimes deadly protests worldwide by publishing a series of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005, later reprinted by Charlie Hebdo.
"Completely defenceless and innocent people became the victims of what appears to be an attack on free speech," said Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
Islamist Turkish dailies draw ire after Charlie Hebdo attack
8 January 2015
Two Islamist newspapers in Turkey have drawn ire on social media with their headlines that “justified” the deadly attack on a French satirical newspaper.
Hours after gunmen stormed the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris, chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest), Yeni Akit newspaper chose the title, “Attack on the magazine that provoked Muslims.”
Several reader comments also appeared on Yeni Akit’s Facebook page, which hailed the bloodshed as “revenge” for the magazine’s decision to publish cartoons that criticized the Prophet Mohammad.
“I hope they will continue [to kill] infidels,” said one reader on the website, while another reader wrote “Thanks to those who did it.”
The newspaper then changed the headline of the story to “the great provocation in Paris.”
Türkiye, another newspaper close to the Turkish government, chose the headline: “Attack on the magazine that insulted our Prophet.”
After a flood of reactions on Twitter, including ones that accuse it of “justifying a terror attack,” the newspaper changed the headline to “Attack on the magazine that published ugly cartoons of our Prophet.”
Peygamber Efendimiz'in çirkin karikatürünü yayınlayan dergiye saldırı: ölü sayısı 12'ye çıktı! http://t.co/Uw26XAcM7B
Türkiye Gazetesi (@turkiyegazetesi) January 7, 2015
“The timing of the attack is interesting. Is it the cost of recognizing Palestine as a state?” the same newspaper asked in the title of another story.
France’s lower house, senators in the upper house of the French parliament, approved a resolution calling on Paris to recognize a Palestinian state last month.
Erdoğan condemns Paris attack, urges 'firm stance against intolerance'
8 January 2015
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has added his voice to the chorus of reactions after the massacre perpetrated against French satiric weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 people on Jan 7, condemning what he described as a "heinous terrorist attack."
“We extend our condolences to our friend and ally France and expect the perpetrators to be brought to justice as soon as possible," said Erdoğan in a statement published on Jan. 7.
"Turkey has fought and will continue to fight against all forms of terrorism with determination. We express our heart-felt condolences for the innocent people killed today and wish a quick recovery for the injured. We also wish patience and steadfastness to the relatives of the deceased and the injured and to the people of France," the statement also read.
While many Turkish government officials have also stressed the need to fight against Islamophobia, Erdoğan used a more encompassing vocabulary, urging a firm stance against "intolerance to differences."
"On this occasion, we would like to stress that terrorism has no religion or nationality and no excuse can be given for it. It is of crucial importance that we have a common stance against terrorist attacks such as the one in Paris today. We have to take a firm stance against hate speech, intolerance to differences and attempts to present religious and cultural differences as ground for enmity," the statement said.
The attack has prompted thousands to flock to the streets in France on Jan. 7, expressing their indignation through the slogan "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie").
Attackers at French newspaper seen as trained Islamist fighters
January 08, 2015
PARIS (Reuters) - The black-clad gunmen who stormed the Paris office of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday spoke perfect French and acted like trained Islamist commandos, shooting victims in an apparently well-prepared attack.
While police have yet to catch or identify the attackers or explain their motives, amateur video shows at least one shouting "Allahu Akbar", Arabic for "God is Greatest", after the attack and saying they had "avenged the Prophet Mohammad".
A witness inside the building told French media that one attacker had identified himself to her as a member of al Qaeda.
Terrorism experts said the hooded gunmen, who wore matching jumpsuits with ammunition belts and carried Kalashnikov assault rifles, appeared to have carried out their attack methodically.
"I was struck not only by their cold-blooded calm but also the professional way that they made their getaway, taking the time to finish off a wounded policeman," said Jean-Louis Bruguiere, a former top anti-terrorism investigative magistrate.
Charlie Hebdo's office had been under police protection since it was firebombed in 2011 after publishing drawings mocking the Prophet Mohammad.
"Clearly there was a reconnaissance operation beforehand," Anne Giudicelli, founder of the TERR(o)RISC security consultancy told Reuters. "They found a chink in the security arrangement and chose a method guaranteeing success."
Islamist groups have posted videos in recent weeks warning France of imminent attacks over its participation in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq.
ATTACKERS AT LARGE
The attack began shortly after 11.30 a.m. (1030 GMT) when two gunmen forced their way into the building in eastern Paris. They shot a technician at the reception desk, then opened fire on journalists gathered for a weekly news planning meeting, witnesses said.
The men accosted illustrator Corinne Rey on the ground floor, ordering her to enter a code to open the door to Charlie Hebdo's office. "They said they belonged to al Qaeda," Rey said, adding they had spoken in clear French.
In an attack lasting about five minutes the gunmen - who also carried a pump-action shotgun, according to a police trade union official - shot dead a police officer posted inside the office as well as eight journalists.
The victims included three cartoonists well known by their pen-names of Cabu, Wolinski and Charb, who was the publication's editor. Economist Bernard Maris, a columnist, was one of two visitors at the office who died.
Rey, who hid under a table during the carnage, said the gunmen called out some of their victims' names.
According to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, 11 more people were injured, of whom four remain in critical condition.
"All the victims were on the ground or sitting and those seriously injured were trying their best to breathe," emergency worker Patrick Hertgen said. "Many had been executed. Most had wounds to the head or torso."
After fleeing into the street, the gunmen exchanged fire with officers in the first police car to respond to emergency calls and with two policemen on mountain bikes before firing repeatedly at a second patrol car.
"What was striking was the closely-grouped bullet holes in the windshield, which shows they (the gunmen) were in control of their weapons and of their emotions," Rene-Georges Querry, former head of a police anti-terror unit, told BFM TV.
Amateur video filmed from a nearby rooftop showed a gunman walking up to a wounded policeman, who had staggered from the car to a nearby sidewalk, and shooting him dead point-blank.
The gunmen drove off toward northeastern Paris. They collided with a motorist before abandoning their car on a busy square and hijacking another vehicle as they escaped into the northern suburbs.
Although only two gunmen were visible on the videos at the crime scene, the motorist said there were three attackers.
Authorities have put the country on a "scarlet" terror alert, which means that an attack is imminent.
While the gunmen's faces remained concealed throughout the attack, police recovered numerous shell casings at the scene as well as a glove that could yield DNA forensic evidence helping to identify the wearer.
(Additional reporting by Marine Pennetier and Gerard Bon; Editing by Paul Taylor and David Stamp)
Average Mohamed counters terror message with cartoon videos
January 08, 2015
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — In the war for young people's hearts and minds, Mohamed Ahmed hopes to use cartoons to dissuade a generation raised on "The Simpsons" and "South Park" from taking up arms for the Islamic State group and other extremist causes.
Ahmed, a convenience store manager from Minneapolis, has launched AverageMohamed.com, a website offering homemade videos aimed at countering the messages and images terrorists use to lure disaffected youths into holy war.
"I don't want my children fighting this war. Let's end this in my generation," said Ahmed, a married father of four young children.
Sitting in his sparsely furnished recording studio, Ahmed, 39, said he started his videos out of frustration.
"I've decided to take on one value at a time, one item at a time, to shoot down extremist ideology and philosophy," he said. He took the moniker "Average Mohamed" because of the worldwide popularity among Muslims of the Prophet Muhammad's name.
Ahmed is operating out of an urban area that has been a target of terror recruiters. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the U.S. Since 2007, an estimated 20 to 25 young Minnesotans have traveled to Somalia to take up arms with al-Shabab, a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida. And authorities say a handful of Minnesota residents have traveled to Syria to fight with militants within the last year.
Ahmed, who shows his videos at community centers or mosques, uses bright, simple cartoons aimed at kids ages 8 to 16. "Easy to use, easy to understand, easy to tell others," he said.
Ahmed records voiceovers with the help of an engineer and has a friend in Southeast Asia create the animation. Each video costs up to $4,000 to make. His website features seven cartoons — in English, Somali and Swahili — that have drawn more than 11,800 views in the last six months and also can be found on YouTube. Ahmed said he hopes to get funding from a government agency to allow him to produce many more videos in the next two years. He'd also like to hire a social media expert to spread the messages rather than relying on word of mouth.
In response to "Flames of War" — a slickly produced, 55-minute extremist propaganda video featuring images of exploding tanks and wounded U.S. soldiers — Ahmed released a minute-long video, "Flames of Hell," showing a cartoon masked gunman shooting bound captives in the desert.
"How many innocent children, women and men has Islamic State killed just today? Do you want to save mankind or kill mankind? That is your choice," the voice of Average Mohamed intones between gunshots.
Omar Jamal, a local Somali community activist, said he thinks the Average Mohamed videos, which incorporate citations from the Quran and the sayings of Muhammad, counter the core message of extremists that God is on their side against infidels. He said a recent presentation of Average Mohamed videos at a community center in Minneapolis triggered an "amazing" discussion among young people who need to hear the anti-terrorism message.
"It's another resource that we need, that we can say, 'OK, why don't you watch this video, instead of watching videos that are misleading you?'" said Abdirahman Mukhtar, a youth coordinator at Brian Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis.
FBI Special Agent Kyle Loven said that he could not comment specifically on Average Mohamed's videos but that the agency has worked with individuals and groups trying to counter radicalization efforts and will continue doing so.
Ahmed wants to make creating anti-terrorism videos his life's work.
"One thing I know is that an extremist is not made. They are not born that way. Somebody trained them to become an extremist," he said. "And somebody has to train people to become non-extremists. And that is my job. That is officially my job now."
President, PM condemn terror attack
January 8, 2015
The attack on office of French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo drew condemnation from all quarters in India. President Pranab Mukherjee tweeted, “Strongly condemn the terrorist attack on media office in Paris; terror and violence have no place in any corner of world. The world community must unite to root out terror from every country and society.”
The attack by unidentified gunmen killed 12 people in Paris on Wednesday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said, “Condemnable and despicable attack in Paris. Our solidarity is with people of France. My thoughts are with families of those who lost their lives.”
Author Salman Rushdie who has also faced the ire of fundamentalists for his book Satanic Verse said, “Satire has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity… Religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today[Wednesday].”
French Islamic groups urge Muslims to observe moments of silence
8 January 2015
France’s main Islamic groups urged Muslims across the country to observe a minute of silence on Thursday and for imams to condemn terrorism in the wake of the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.
The groups called on “Muslim citizens of France to observe a minute of silence today at midday (1100 GMT), along with the rest of the nation, in memory of the victims of terrorism.”
The appeal -- issued by Muslim assemblies from across France -- also called on imams at Friday prayers to “condemn the violence and the terrorism with maximum firmness.”
Muslim citizens were also asked to join “in massive numbers” a national day of solidarity on Sunday where demonstrators are expected to take to the streets of towns across France.
Police were frantically hunting two men who fled Paris on Wednesday after gunning down 12 people in an attack on Charlie Hebdo, apparently in retaliation for the magazine’s defiant stance in publishing cartoons they deemed offensive to Islam.
Paris shooting triggers attacks on Muslim targets
8 January 2015
Muslim places of worship in two French towns were fired upon overnight, leaving no casualties, prosecutors said on Thursday.
Three blank grenades were thrown at a mosque shortly after midnight in the city of Le Mans, west of Paris. A bullet hole was also found in a window of the mosque.
In the Port-la-Nouvelle district near Narbonne in southern France, several shots were fired in the direction of a Muslim prayer hall shortly after evening prayers. The hall was empty, the local prosecutor said.
An explosion at a kebab shop near a mosque in the eastern French town of Villefranche-sur-Saone on Thursday morning also left no casualties. Local prosecutors have described it as a "criminal act".
France is on edge following the deadly assault by heavily armed gunmen on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday that left 12 dead. No link has yet been established between the attacks.
Paris gunmen ‘trained by pros’: terror experts
Ben Flanagan | Special to Al Arabiya News
8 January 2015
The hooded gunmen who killed at least 12 people in an attack on a satirical magazine in France appear to have been “professionally trained” – possibly in camps in the Middle East, terrorism experts say.
Three suspected Islamists reportedly stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) earlier on Wednesday, killing 10 of the magazine’s staff – including the editor and three cartoonists – and two police officers.
The assailants would have been organized and “well-prepared” in carrying out France’s worst terror attack in decades, marking them out from other recent “lone-wolf” attackers, experts say.
“They were clearly trained in the use of firearms” said Matthew Henman, a senior analyst at IHS Jane’s Terrorism & Insurgency Centre. “That kind of experience places them above the average lone-wolf jihadists.”
Henman told Al Arabiya News it was too early to say where the attackers would have trained – with direct battle experience, Middle East training camps or shooting ranges in France all remaining a possibility.
Alisa Lockwood, Head of Europe Analysis at IHS Country Risk, agreed that many aspects of Wednesday’s attack suggest that the gunmen were “professionally trained.”
“The shooters conducted the operation so quickly – within about 10 minutes according to reports – appeared to target specific individuals … had prepared a getaway car; and were well-armed,” she said.
“[That] is evidence of a level of coordination and prior organization not seen in recent attacks in France.”
Lockwood pointed to three violent attacks in France during December, including one in which a Muslim convert stabbed three police officers in Joue-les-Tours. The Charlie Hebdo attack is markedly different to those, she said.
“Certainly this is much more sophisticated than the spate of seemingly Islamist-inspired attacks by individuals in December, which were very amateurish,” she said.
“The closest parallel to the latest incident is with the fatal shootings in March 2012, in which three soldiers and four civilians were killed at various locations,” added Lockwood.
“However, these were committed by a lone individual on a rampage, making this again quite different from the Charlie Hebdo attack.”
Prophet Mohammad cartoons
Many media outlets have linked Wednesday’s attack with Charlie Hebdo’s publication of several cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, something many Muslims find offensive.
In November 2011, the magazine’s offices were fire-bombed after it published an edition temporarily renamed “Charia Hebdo,” featuring a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad on the cover threatening readers with “a hundred lashes if you don’t die laughing.”
Henman said the fact that several of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists appear to have been specifically targeted in this week’s attack “strongly points to a highly motivated attack with regard to the cartoons.”
Peter Lehr, lecturer at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the Scotland-based University of St Andrews, said the attack on the magazine did not come as a surprise.
“It was already a target due to the Prophet Mohammad cartoons,” he said. “There was a certain threat level already.”
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the Paris killings. But according to one eyewitness, one of the attackers reportedly shouted “Tell the media that this is Al Qaeda in Yemen” – referring to a group more commonly known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Henman said it was possible that this group was behind the attack, but cautioned that the eyewitness claim had not yet been substantiated.
“If a single group is behind this, I would expect a claim of responsibility in the next 24 hours,” he said.
Another terrorism expert said it was possible – but by no means a certainty – that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or those influenced by it, were behind the attack.
“The jury is out as to who is actually responsible for this,” said Professor Lee Marsden, head of the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies at the University of East Anglia.
“This sort of incident is more likely to be an action of Al Qaeda rather than ISIS,” he added, pointing to the different strategies employed by so-called militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Lehr said Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula would be “quite capable” of organizing such an attack.
Despite previous large-scale terror attacks such as 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings in London, Al Qaeda-influenced groups are now focusing “easy-to-conduct” attacks such as the one in Paris, Lehr added.
“You don’t [need] any background in explosives,” he said. “They’re saying: ‘If you have a gun, shoot people. If you have a knife, stab people.’”
Is Paris shooting linked to France’s Mideast anti-terror drive?
8 January 2015
The deadly shooting at Paris-based satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo appears to be linked to Islamist militants reacting to France’s close involvement in the war on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), experts say.
On Wednesday, hooded gunmen stormed the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, known for lampooning radical Islam, and killed 12 people before fleeing the scene, in France’s deadliest attack in decades.
Although no party has claimed responsibility for the deadly incident, which the French president has described as a “terrorist attack,” analysts say the attacks bears the marks of Islamist militants, spurred by Paris’ growing military involvement against jihadists in the Middle East.
“The [Charlie Hebdo] act bears the hallmark of jihadism at work in Syria and Iraq,” Middle East expert Samir Saul told Al Arabiya News.
“European volunteers bring back to Europe methods learned in Syria and Iraq,” Saul added.
The gunmen, who are still at large, had shouted "Allahu akbar" as they fired, the Associated Press reported.
But the attack could also be just a reaction to satirical cartoons the newspaper has published. Hours before the carnage the newspaper tweeted a cartoon of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi issuing a New Year's greeting, with the caption reading: "And especially, health!"
It is not the first time Charlie Hebdo has come under attack. In 2011, the weekly was firebombed a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Mohammad.
Growing numbers of French youths have reportedly joined the fight with Islamist rebel groups in Syria and Iraq.
Middle East expert Samir Saul said the French government “needs at least to stop the flow of French jihadists” in order to minimize the threat level.
So far, around 234 French fighters have left the conflict zone, with 185 now back in France.
Walid Abbas, deputy chief editor of the Paris-based, Arabic-speaking radio station Monte Carlo Doualiya, told Al Arabiya News that terror attacks would likely continue on French soil as long as France continues its growing involvement “in combatting terrorist organizations.”
“What happened this morning was expected and is just the result of the important role France is playing in combatting terrorist organizations, whether it is the Middle East or in Africa,” he said.
“France is very active in combating ISIS, which can explain the ongoing terror acts and threats on the French territory,” Abbas said.
French warplanes began air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq a few months ago when around 60 mainly Western and Arab states formed a coalition to combat the group, which is occupying swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria for its so-called Islamic “caliphate.”
The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS was forged after the group made rapid territorial gains in Iraq and beheaded a number of Westerners, among them journalists.
In December, President Francois Hollande said France was ready to step up its actions against ISIS.
Experts said Wednesday’s shooting would only bolster freedom of expression in the European country.
“Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are main pillars in France and such terror acts should push France to hold on even more to these pillars,” Abbas said.
“Satire is part of journalism and this newspaper [Charlie Hebdo] has the right to publish what it wants,” he added.
Charlie Hebdo is a left-leaning French weekly satirical magazine known for its provocative tone and anti-religious stance. France’s media is generally regarded as free and represents a wide range of political opinion.
Analysts also said French authorities should avoid knee jerk reactions that might target the country’s Muslim community after the violent attack in the French capital.
“Even though some radical Muslims chose to respond to the caricatures [of Baghdadi] with violent acts, the government will hopefully instruct the police and the security forces not to target innocent Muslims in France through more controls of ‘Muslim-looking individuals,’” Yahia Zoubir, professor of international relations and director of research in geopolitics at EUROMED, told Al Arabiya News.
The government should rather seek the cooperation of the religious leaders to call for calm, Zoubir said, adding that France would likely “tighten security in the country.”
On Wednesday, Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world's premier Islamic institution, strongly condemned the shooting.
There are about 5 million Muslims in France, about 8 percent of the population, which is the largest Muslim community in Europe.
Hollywood backs French magazine after massacre
8 January 2015
Hollywood voiced solidarity with French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, as some linked Wednesday’s deadly attack on it to the recent freedom-of-speech controversy over a comedy film about North Korea.
Celebrities expressed outrage and support online, while the Motion Picture Association of America made a direct link between the Paris massacre that killed 12 and the hacking and threats to Hollywood studio Sony Pictures over the movie “The Interview.”
“We are shocked and saddened by the horrific terrorist attack at Charlie Hebdo that occurred today,” said MPAA head Chris Dodd in a statement.
“Our industry has experienced firsthand cowardly attempts (to destroy) freedom of speech, and we offer our expression of support to the victims and their families, as well as the French people.”
Sony Pictures initially resisted demands by hackers that it cancel the film’s December 25 release date. But it gave in the week before Christmas, before changing its mind again and releasing it from Dec. 24.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) called the Paris attack -- in which masked gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar” -- a “despicable act of terrorism.”
“Journalists know that their jobs carry risks, but these brazen killings were particularly shocking in that these journalists were not operating in an overseas combat zone, but were at work in their own offices in a democratic nation,” it said.
Hollywood stars took to Twitter and other social media to voice solidarity with the French publication, and France more generally.
“Obviously this is terrible and tragic and upsetting,” said comic actress Tina Fey, cited by industry journal Variety.
“It makes you remember how important free speech is and must be defended. We all must stand firm on issue of free speech. .. We are Americans .. Even if it’s just dumb jokes in ‘The Interview,’ we have the right to make them.”
Comic host Bill Maher wrote on Twitter that condemning the Paris attack was not enough.
“Unless you strongly endorse the right of anyone to make fun of any religion/prophet .. you are not a moderate Muslim,” he wrote.
British comic Ricky Gervais tweeted: “If I believed in an all-powerful God I’d also assume he could do his own murders.”
Julianne Moore, using the trending hashtag #JeSuisCharlie (“I am Charlie”), wrote: “I am heartbroken by the loss of life and attack on freedom of expression.”
Mark Ruffalo wrote: “What a tremendous loss. A free press is our greatest weapon against tyranny, home and abroad. #JeSuisCharlie.”
Charlie Hebdo will come out next week, despite bloodbath
8 January 2015
The French satirical newspaper whose staff was decimated in an Islamist attack will come out as scheduled next week, one of its surviving staffers told AFP on Thursday.
Charlie Hebdo will publish next Wednesday to defiantly show that “stupidity will not win,” said columnist Patrick Pelloux, adding that the remaining staff will soon meet.
“It’s very hard. We are all suffering, with grief, with fear, but we will do it anyway because stupidity will not win,” he said.
He added that the publication would have to be put together outside Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters which were not accessible following the massacre.
Twelve people, including five cartoonists, were killed in Wednesday’s attack that also left two policemen dead.
French far-right leader calls for death penalty in Paris shooting aftermath
8 January 2015
A day after the targeting of a French satirical magazine in Paris that left 12 people dead, France’s Front National leader announced Thursday that if elected she would propose a referendum to bring back capital punishment in the country.
“I personally believe that the death penalty should exist in our legal arsenal,” Marine Le Pen told television channel France 2.
“I always said that I would offer French citizens the possibility to express themselves on the topic through a referendum,” Le Pen added.
Capital punishment was practiced in France from the middle ages until 1977 with the guillotine as the only legal execution method.
The last person to be executed was Hamida Djandoubi who was executed in September 1977.
The death penalty was abolished by law in on October 9, 1981, under President Mitterrand's presidency.
During the interview, Le Pen also said that she would speak to French President Francois Hollande about radical Islam in France and the “measures that need to be implemented to protect the countrymen.”
Le Pen condemned “Islamic fundamentalism” which “causes thousands of deaths every day worldwide.”