Tensions spike in new Arab alliance over divisions on sale of Charlie Hebdo

Southern Islamic Movement published a statement on Monday saying it was “shocked by Dov Henin’s statements backing the publication”

January 26, 2015 22:34
1 minute read.
Charlie Hebdo

A man poses with the new issue of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo at a cafe in Nice.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

It did not take long for the first sign of tensions to appear from within the Arab alliance for the coming elections.

The joint Arab list released a statement on Monday saying, “We reject any insult against the Arab prophet and religious beliefs under the pretext of free of expression,” the Israeli-Arab website Bokra.net reported.

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This seemed to come in response to a controversy that erupted a day earlier between Hadash MK Dov Henin and Masud Gnaim, the head of the southern Islamic Movement’s United Arab List. The disagreement was over the cancellation by the nation’s largest bookstore chain, Steimatzky, of its in-store launch of the sale of the Charlie Hebdo French weekly, after Arabs objected to the magazine’s depiction of Muhammad.

Gnaim came out strongly against the sale of the weekly. He warned on Army Radio on Sunday that the result could trigger violence from the Arab public.

On the other hand, Henin, from the socialist, secular Jewish- Arab Hadash party, when pressed to respond as to whether he agreed with Gnaim, said that he disagreed and supported freedom of expression and wouldn’t have prevented the distribution of the magazine.

Henin’s response outraged Gnaim and the southern Islamic Movement, which perhaps was behind the joint Arab list statement on Monday.

The list also said in its statement that it is convinced that Henin “adheres to this position.”

The southern Islamic Moement’s website, Al-Mithaq, published a statement on Monday saying it was “shocked by Dov Henin’s statements backing the publication” and called on him and his party “to clarify its position and apologize.”

“The Islamic Movement warns any party that wants to take advantage of insulting the prophet,” it added.

The United Arab List, Ta’al, Hadash, and Balad struck a historic deal Thursday night to run as a united bloc. The decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent of the vote and pressure from the Arab public have forced the parties to band together.

Despite the deal, there already seem to be difficulties in maintaining unity.

Pressed about the ideological differences within the united Arab bloc, Henin said in the radio interview that each party maintains its own stances on issues.

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