Charlie Hebdo Reactions in Lebanon's Tripoli

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Tripoli, Lebanon

January 16, 2015

Residents of the Muslim-majority city of Tripoli in north Lebanon denounced the caricature that portrays Prohpet Mohammad, published in the first issue of Charlie Hebdo after the attack that killed several of the weekly’s staff members.

This video shows interviews with Muslim men who participated in Friday prayer at Al-Tqwa Mosque in Tripoli, including Salafist Sheikh Salem Al Rifaei, member of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon.

Heavy presence of Lebanese Army and security forces was seen in the main streets of Tripoli during and after the Friday prayer.

Muslims around the world denounced the new Charlie Hebdo published after the deadly shooting. The shooting was carried out on January 7 at the newspaper's offices in Paris by two French Islamist militants and killed 12 persons, including caricaturists and a security officer. The latest issue of the newspaper was published on Wednesday January 14 and featured a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed on the front page.

Shot List

  1. Wide of Allah Square in Tripoli
  2. Wide of Lebanese Army vehicles in Allah Square
  3. Wide of police vehicles parked in main square
  4. Wide of shoe shiner polishing Lebanese soldier’s boots
  5. Wide of taxi driving of
  6. Wide of Taqwa mosque. NAT SOUND (Arabic): call to prayer
  7. Wide of Lebanese Army armored personnel carrier near Taqwa mosque
  8. Wide of screen featuring CCTV footage from inside mosque of cleric Sheikh Salem Rafei
  9. Wide of teenage boys praying outside mosque
  10. Wide of Sheikh Salem Rafei coming down the stairs

  11. SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Mahmoud el-Rassif

1:07 We did not see them [the cartoons that portray Prophet Mohammad] we only had a glimpse. However, in general, this harms Muslims. Muslims feel this in their heart. This harms us. This is an insult to our prophet Mohammad, whose teachings and ethics guide us. For us, this is definitely unacceptable.
They should practice freedom of expression regarding their leaders; as our revered sheikh Salem said, they should do this with their kings, not prophets and God’s messengers. As I said, this harms us and Muslims. We do not accept this.
This is justice. They doomed themselves. We do not like aggression. No one should attack others’ religion.
Prophet Issa [Jesus] peace be upon Him whom Christians consider their prophet, or even their God – it is their own religion -- is also our prophet and a messenger of God whom we do wish to be harmed. We did not attack you, therefore do not attack us.

02:25 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Bahaa' Abass
Yes, I saw them [the cartoons]
Interviewer: What did you think of them?
This is blasphemy against Islam and Muslims. They are describing Prophet Mohammad in ways that God Almighty does approve. And Muslins also do not approve this. God’s enemies want to insult God’s religion. They are insulting our prophet. May God avenge whoever did this.
Those who insulted our Prophet deserve more than this. If they were still here… may God avenge them! God is greatest! May God avenge every person who described the Prophet in ways that do not befit him. This is the West! They claim to support democracy and freedom of media. God is greatest! May God avenge them.
Any Muslim needs to defend the Prophet peace be upon him.
They insulted the prophet peace be upon him. They are doing things that God almighty does not accept. They are doing this to say that Muslims have revolted and practiced terrorism. None of this is permissible. This is a conspiracy against Islam. This a conspiracy against Islam, Muslims and the Prophet peace be upon Him. This is a conspiracy! All of this is blasphemy.
Anyone who does not denounce what the newspaper has issued is considered a Muslim.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Men) Sheikh Salem el-Rafei, Imam of Takwa Mosque, member of Association of Muslim Scholars

Today, France in which the French Revolution took place and the scientific renaissance, and where a renaissance started which claims to defend the human rights to choose one’s religion, there is a newspaper that is insulting the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon Him. It would have been better for the French government and the Western governments to condemn this issue. They should not leave the condemnation to us; they should condemn it. This is an insult to all religions, an insult for one and a half billion Muslims around the world. They should have condemned this, but unfortunately, we see that the West is silent. They justified that by saying it is freedom of speech. Is it a freedom of expression in mocking Muslims and their religion?
We say that we feel sorry that the West reaches this level of intellect, at which it insults Muslim symbols, or the greatest symbol for Muslims and say it is freedom of expression.
We feel sorry that decadence in the West reaches this level. This is all staged. Germans doubted the images that they showed us and said that there were plans according to which the men who carried out the attacks were following. It was set up.
Germany believes that this has been set up by the French government and accused Muslim youth of doing it to justify it war on Libya. I think that first of all the French government should investigate this issue, before we say ‘terrorist attack’ or anything else. Investigate the issue. Maybe the men were killed without being interrogated. Without being given the chance to be detained and clear that [bad] image, which shows that Muslims are terrorists and extremists.
I wish that France conducts an investigation, and that media demands the French government to investigate what happened.
How could they jusyify this, it [French government] will say that terrorists came, therefore we can go into Libya and take oil. They do not care about principles or values. They drool when they see oil, the same way the US drooled over Iraqi oil. They said there were weapons of mass destruction but it was all a lie.
I say if France is Christian, it should emulate its pope. If France is Christian, then let it emulate the pope. If it is atheist and does not believe in any religion, then it should not insult any religion. The West cannot say “we are tolerant and accept the other” then insult the other’s religion and prophet. This is not fair and not an example of tolerance. This is intellectual terrorism. What can we call this? Intellectual terrorism. As they denounced [the killing] they should denounce [the cartoons]. This is more deserving of being denounced.
Interviewer: Are you preparing for any demonstrations in Tripoli?
Sheikh Rafei: We did not prepare anything, because everyone is conspiring against Muslims. If we demonstrate they will call us terrorists. What good will it do? If we go to the street, the [military] intelligence will