Steimatzky cancels in-store sale of ‘Charlie Hebdo’ ‘survivors’ issue’ after Arab objections

The head of the southern Islamic Movement’s United Arab List, Masud Ghnaim, warned in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the book store's action is "very dangerous."

January 24, 2015 23:00
1 minute read.
Charlie Hebdo

People queue for the new issue of satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo at a kiosk in Nice.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Steimatzky, the nation’s largest bookstore chain, canceled the in-store launch of the sale of the Charlie Hebdo French weekly’s “survivors’ issue,” after Arabs objected to its depiction of the prophet Muhammad.

“Steimatzky decisively supports freedom of expression. The company has sold the magazine for years and will continue to do so. However, the chain has decided the sale of this issue will not occur at a special event in our store [at Ramat Gan’s Ayalon Mall], but it will be held online starting Monday at 5 p.m.,” Ma’ariv, The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew-language sister publication, reported on Saturday.

MK Masud Gnaim, the head of United Arab List, warned earlier on Saturday, in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that the bookstore’s action [the sale of the satirical weekly] was “very dangerous.” The UAL is associated with the southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.

“The Steimatzky chain intends to distribute in two days thousands of copies from the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo that includes images which hurts the Islamic religion,” Gnaim said.

“This is a very serious, dangerous, and stupid step. This is not freedom of expression, but a hard blow to the holiest of holies for Muslims that will bring about unrest and great anger among the Arabs and Muslims in the country and in the whole world, and no one can predict the results.”

Gnaim appealed to Netanyahu to personally intervene and stop the distribution of the newspaper.

Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians rallied in the West Bank on Saturday to protest against the publication of cartoons depicting Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo.

Simultaneous demonstrations were held in the cities of Ramallah and Hebron.

“France is the mother of terrorism. America is the mother of terrorism,” the protesters chanted. The protests were called by the Tahrir Party (Hizb ut-Tahrir), which advocates the establishment of an Islamic caliphate.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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