#Journalismisnotacrime Africa Journalism Senegal

Senegal wobbles over Charlie Hebdo?

By Staff Reporter

  • Senegalese President Mr Sall “stood with” Charlie Hebdo in the popular Paris Unity March
  • He has come under criticism at home for attending the march.
  • He now has banned the circulation and distribution of Charlie Hebdo Magazine
  • In Kenya The Star has apologised for publishing the latest cartoon in error
A sign at a newsstand says the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo magazine has sold out on 14 January 2015 in Paris
The first run of copies of the magazine were sold out within hours

A Kenyan newspaper has apologised for publishing Charlie Hebdo’s cover, depicting Prophet Muhammad following an outcry from its Muslim readers.

The Star said it “sincerely regretted” any offence caused by the “small reproduction” of the cover.

Meanwhile, a second Kenyan newspaper has published the satirical magazine’s cover with an article which said it embodied press freedom.

In Senegal, the government banned the French magazine’s distribution.

Many Senegalese are Muslims who are likely to welcome the ban, correspondents say.

‘Muslim sensibilities’

The country has close links with France, the former colonial power and French newspapers are widely available.

Apology published by Kenya's The Star on 15 January 2015The Star is an influential Kenyan daily

The magazine is being distributed worldwide, with a cartoon which shows the Prophet weeping while holding a sign saying “I am Charlie”, and below the headline “All is forgiven”.

Twelve of its staff were killed last week by militant Islamist gunmen who said they were avenging a 2005 depiction of Prophet Muhammad

“It is forbidden to distribute and disseminate, by any means, today’s editions of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and the French newspaper Liberation throughout the national territory,” the Senegalese news agency APS reported, citing a statement from the interior ministry.

Liberation also published the cartoon.

Analysis: Abdourahmane Dia, BBC Africa, Dakar

French President Francois Hollande (R) welcomes President of Senegal Macky Sall (L) at the Elysee Palace before a solidarity march in Paris on 11  January 2015
Mr Sall showed his solidarity with French President Francois Hollande by attending Sunday’s rally

Senegal’s bestselling newspaper, L’Observateur, described the ban on Charlie Hebdo as a “bluff” by President Macky Sall, who was widely condemned for taking part in the Paris march on Sunday. It questioned how he could have marched in Paris for press freedom only for his government to then ban the magazine’s edition depicting Prophet Muhammad.

In fact, the government has to walk a fine line between taking a stance against terrorism and not showing support for a publication seen by many Senegalese Muslims as anti-Islamic.

Although many people condemned Mr Sall for taking part in the march, prominent Muslim cleric Serigne Modou Kara defended him, saying his attendance was necessary because of the close ties between France and Senegal.

Meanwhile, a campaign group has called for a march in Dakar on 24 January under the slogan “I am African” in response to “I am Charlie” to highlight the plight of Africans who are are victims of violence, especially Nigerians under heavy attack from militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

Kenya’s third biggest newspaper, The Star, said many Muslim readers complained over a “small reproduction” of Charlie Hebdo’s cover.

“The Star sincerely regrets any offence and pain caused by the picture and we will bear Muslim sensibilities in mind in future,” it said in an apology on Thursday.

BBC Monitoring’s Patrick Kihara says it is an influential publication with a reputation of being bold in its coverage of issues.

On Thursday, Business Daily – owned by Kenya’s Nation Media Group, the biggest in the country – published a picture of a man holding Charlie Hebdo’s cover, along with an article by French writer Dominic Moisi which said the magazine had “given form to the spirit of democratic freedom the ability to write, draw and publish anything – even extreme (and at times) vulgar provocations”.

Many Muslims have accused the magazine of blaspheming against Prophet Muhammad and of being Islamophobic.

People hold signs "I am Charlie" and pencils during a rally in Brest, western France. Photo: 11 January 2015Millions of people rallied around Charlie Hebdo after the attack on its staff
-BBC

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