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Al-Azhar calls on Muslims to “ignore” new Charlie Hebdo edition

Al-Azhar issued a statement calling for Muslims to “ignore the nasty frivolity” Charlie Hebdo’s new edition’s cover on Wednesday. The magazine features a caricature of the Prophet Mohamed holding up a sign saying “Je suis Charlie” with text underneath reading “All is forgiven.”

While Al-Azhar condemned the cartoon calling it a “diseased imagination,” and emphasized that it should be “ignored,” Al-Azhar previously issued a statement condemning the attack that took place at the magazine’s offices on January 7 saying, “Islam denounces any violence.”

Last week 12 of the magazine’s staff were killed in an attack on its offices by two gunmen, who then exchanged fire with the police outside before escaping in a car. The gunmen killed four of the magazine’s cartoonists.

A video purportedly from Al-Qaeda in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack on Wednesday.

The magazine is notorious for publishing cartoons deemed offensive to Islam. In 2011, it published a special edition, “Charia Hebdo,” with the Prophet Mohamed credited as “editor-in-chief” and featuring a cartoon of the prophet on the cover. Charlie Hebdo’s office was attacked a day before that issue was published and the publication’s website was hacked.

In 2012, the magazine once again sparked outrage across the Muslim world by running another series of satirical cartoons featuring the prophet.

Charlie Hebdo’s most recent edition was the first to come out since the attack and quickly sold out with more than three million copies sold, according to the BBC.

Dar al-Ifta issued a statement on Tuesday calling Charlie Hebdo’s decision to publish the caricature “an act unjustifiably provocative to the feelings of a billion and a half Muslims worldwide who love and respect the Prophet.”

Also on Tuesday, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree giving Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb the power to ban foreign publications he deems offensive to religion.

The decree was issued through the State Journal and delegated the previously presidential power to ban foreign publications to the prime minister.

According to the Egyptian penal code the president, and now the prime minister, can ban foreign publications “to maintain order in society.” The law further states that, “The Cabinet has the right to ban publications offensive to religion or publications promoting erotica in away that can disturb the public peace.” 

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