Arab Group Slams Israeli Bookstore Chain's 'Provocative' Plan to Sell Charlie Hebdo Mag

Higher Arab Monitoring Committee discovered Steimatzky would be selling issues of French satirical weekly from its store at the Ayalon Mall in Ramat Gan.

Jack Khoury
Maya Sela
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A man at a Nice, France, cafe poses with the post-attack issue of Charlie Hebdo, Jan. 14, 2015. The banner says "All Is Forgiven," above a crying Muhammad with a sign saying, "I Am Charlie."Credit: Reuters
Jack Khoury
Maya Sela

A leading Arab political organization yesterday condemned the Steimatzky book chain for its plan to sell copies of the Charlie Hebdo magazine featuring cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee released a statement saying it had information that Steimatzky would be selling issues of the French satirical weekly from its store at the Ayalon Mall, Ramat Gan. The group called the move a provocation that offended the sensitivities of Muslims and their faith, not only in Israel but throughout the Islamic world.

MK Masud Ganaim, who represents the Islamic Movement in the United Arab List faction, sent an urgent letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding that he intervene to prevent the sale of the magazine, which Ganaim said could lead to anger among Muslims both in Israel and worldwide, and “no one can predict the outcome.”

Meanwhile, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights approached Steimatzky with a demand not to sell the magazine, saying that if it did not receive an answer by this morning, it would seek a court injunction.

Steimatzky responded that it supported freedom of expression and had sold Charlie Hebdo for several years, and would continue to do so. However, it added it would not be holding a special event in-store now, selling the magazine only via its website, beginning Monday at 5 P.M.