January 15, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 5934

Algerian Newspapers Launch 'We Are All Muhammad' Campaign; 'Echorouk': France's Crimes Are 10 Times Worse Than The Murder Of A Few Journalists

January 15, 2015
Algeria, North Africa, North Africa | Special Dispatch No. 5934

In response to the publication of the latest issue of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo featuring another cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on the cover, a week after the January 7, 2015 terrorist attack on its offices in which 12 of its staff were murdered by Cherif and Said Kouachi, French Muslim brothers of Algerian descent, the Algerian dailies Echorouk and Al-Nahar Al-Jadid launched a "Nous Sommes Tous Mohamed" ("We Are All Muhammad") campaign, that received widespread attention on social media around the world.[1]

The front pages of the January 14, 2015 issues of both newspapers included a headline reading "We Are All Muhammad." Echorouk devoted its entire issue to this topic, with all 20 pages full of reports, articles, opinion pieces, and cartoons protesting against the insult to the Prophet. On the front page of this issue it featured a cartoon comparing the world's reaction to terrorism "when relating to the West," with a man holding a sign saying "Je Suis Charlie" to the world's reaction to terrorism "when related to Arabs" with a tank with a sign reading: "Je Suis Char" - "I Am a Tank" - crushing "Gaza," "Mali," "Syria," and "Iraq." Its January 15 issue was also dedicated primarily to the topic. The top of every page on both days featured the words, "Support for the Prophet Muhammad; No to Insulting the Prophets; No to Terrorism."[2] One January 14 article stated, "Insulting the Prophet is a 'red line.'"[3] Al-Nahar Al-Jadid's January 14 issue featured on its front page a photo of hands holding up a Koran and a sign reading "We Are All Muhammad" in Arabic and French.

Echorouk's January 14, 2015  front page: Top: "We Are All Muhammad... No To Insulting The Prophets... No To Terrorism." Lower right: The world's reaction to terrorism "when relating to the West" - Man holds "Je Suis Charlie" sign; lower right: The world's reaction to terrorism when related to Arabs" - sign reading: "Je Suis Char" - I Am a Tank - crushing "Gaza," "Mali," "Syria," and "Iraq."

Al-Nahar Al-Jadid's January 14, 2015 front page: in left hand a Koran, in right hand sign reading  "We Are All Muhammad" in Arabic and French.

Headline on every page of Echorouk's January 14 and 15 issues: "Support for the Prophet Muhammad; No to Insulting the Prophets; No to Terrorism."

The Eshorouq daily reported on the January 13, 2015 protests across Algeria against insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Al-Nahar Al-Jadid reported on January 15 on its front page that Algerian clerics had called on Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to permit them to stage rallies on Friday, January 16 to protest against the French media's insult to the Prophet.[4] Al-Nahar Al-Jadid quoted Abu Jara Sultani, a member of the shura council of the Algerian Islamic movement Society of Peace as saying that Charlie Hebdo's publication of the cartoon would allow extremist Muslims to justify the attack on the magazine's offices, and added that it would turn the two terrorists "into martyrs."[5]

In an article titled "We Will Not Remain Silent In The Face Of Charlie Hebdo's Provocations," Echorouk cited Algerian politicians, journalists, and Muslim clerics from around the world who condemned the publication of the cartoon.[6] Among them was Moussa Touati, head of the Algerian National Front political party, who called the publication of the cartoon "a provocation... worse than the murder."[7]

Both dailies were also highly critical of France itself for allowing Charlie Hebdo's satire. Echorouk claimed that "official France is funding the distribution of three million [issues of Charlie Hebdo] that insult the Prophet." An illustration showed a cartoonist firing pencils at a crescent moon symbolizing Islam. The article also accused France of funding insults to Muslims and called for a boycott on French goods.[8]

Headline: "France Officially Funds Publication of Three Million [Issues of Charlie Hebdo] Insulting the Prophet."

Another focus of the newspapers was apprehension about an increase in Islamophobia in the wake of these events.

Editorial In Algerian Daily Tells France: Do Not Test The Patience Of The Muslims

Articles and columns in the dailies reflect the Algeria-France tension against France's 130-year occupation of Algeria, which ended in the 1960s. An example of this is the January 15 Echorouk editorial by Rashid Ould Bousiafa, who argued that France's crimes against Algeria during the colonialist period and against Muslims today are 10 times worse than the murder of 10 (sic, the correct figure is 12) cartoonists who offended a billion Muslims. He wrote:

"What happened yesterday in France and in many European countries set a dangerous precedent in the relationship between the West and Islam: Charlie Hebdo again published a cartoon insulting the Prophet Muhammad, printing three million copies [of the magazine]. But that was not sufficient to feed the flames of hatred for Islam and the Muslims, because the increased demand for the newspaper led it to publish a second edition, of two million [more] copies.

"In light of this new trend of France regarding Islam and the Muslims, there is no [longer] room for the [Muslim] delicacy and forgiving statements [about it] - because the frivolity and vulgarity of the tasteless Charlie Hebdo reflects the underlying French policy that set the tone for the actions of this yellow newspaper. [Charlie Hebdo] has turned its financial crisis into a get-rich opportunity by insulting and provoking things sacred to Muslims.

"The Algerian people has closed the book on its French colonialist period, with all its tragedies, and has not held [France] to account; [instead] it has forged a relationship of cooperation with it. But in light of what Charlie Hebdo did, and behind the five million Frenchmen who bought, circulated, and defended the newspaper, it appears that this relationship is not based upon mutual respect. To them, we say: 'We Algerians do not respect anyone who does not respect us, particularly when this provocation comes from the entity that plundered our resources and enslaved us for 132 years.' 

"Do not test our patience with your pointless obscenities. Do not turn the murder of 17 Frenchmen by impulsive Muslims into an immoral war. Do not forget that among the victims of this attack were Algerian Muslims [i.e. the slain Muslim policeman], who pressed forward to deal with the extremism among you before they fought the extremism among the Muslims. We were the first to fight this.

"Your deeds are shameful and disgraceful. You kill thousands of Muslims in their lands, and your weapons are severely punishing millions of Muslims in Syria, Libya, and Mali. You allow your yellow journalism to insult the things sacred to Islam, and when three out of a billion Muslims slip away to take revenge, you come together in official and populist hysterical weeping, and follow it up with defamation that is even worse than it was before.

"We will not be hypocritical towards you, and we will not commiserate with you, because our tragedy is greater, and your crimes in our lands are more hellish. The pile of corpses left behind [in our lands] by your planes and missiles prevent us from seeing what is happening in yours, and [understanding] how you can possibly compare the murder of a few cartoonists who insulted a billion Muslims to the thousands of innocents whom you kill, sometimes by yourselves and sometimes by means of your representatives.

"In conclusion, a word to the defamers of the Prophet [Muhammad] and their supporters: Look in the mirror and see your ugliness, the pointlessness of your thoughts, and the falsity of your emotions. It is you who are shocked when 10 people in Paris are killed - and who back away when thousands of children in Gaza are crushed [to death]."  

Cartoons, Headlines In January 14 And 15 Issues Of Echorouk And Al-Nahar Al-Jadid 

A headline in the January 14 issue of Echorouk stated: "We Will Not Remain Silent in the Face Of Charlie Hebdo's Provocations":

A January 14 Echorouk cartoon titled "Between Free Speech and Tyranny" depicted a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist taking aim at Muslims with a pencil, shouting: "Take that!!". In the next frame, the Muslim speared by the pencil chases the cartoonist, who shouts "Oh, world - a terrorist..."  

Echorouk's January 14, 2015 issue included a collection of cartoons from various Arab newspapers criticizing the insult to the Prophet, the West's silence in the face of terrorism in the Islamic world, and the Arab world's condemnation of the Charlie Hebdo attack. One cartoon also showed the harm that will befall Muslims as fallout from the attack.  


[1] Echorouk (Algeria), January 15, 2015.

[2] Echorouk (Algeria), January 14-15, 2015.

[3] Echorouk (Algeria), January 14, 2015.

[4] Echorouk (Algeria), January 14, 2015; Al-Nahar Al-Jadid (Algeria), January 15, 2015.

[5] Al-Nahar Al-Jadid (Algeria), January 14, 2015.

[6] Echorouk (Algeria), January 14, 2015.

[7] Echorouk (Algeria), January 14, 2015.

[8] Echorouk (Algeria), January 14, 2015.

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