Fire has gutted the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on the very day it published a special issue with the name "Charia Hebdo," a reference to Islamic Sharia law.
Fire gutted the offices of the satirical magazine
The apparent fire-bombing of the Paris weekly Charlie Hebdo had been preceded by threatening mails through social networks, said the magazine's editor, known publicly only as Charb.
A witness said an incendiary device was hurled through a window shortly after midnight, destroying "everything" inside. Paris police say they are investigating the blaze. No one had been injured.
The weekly's website also went down. The editor attributed this to heat and fire fighting that caused water damage, but reports say hackers modified website content.
On Tuesday, editor Charb had rejected accusations that a special issue of the magazine, published on Wednesday and titled "Charia Hebdo," would seek to provoke devout Muslims.
Prior to publication the magazine had said that the edition would "celebrate" last week's election victory in Tunisia by the Islamist party Ennahda, which has vowed to work with Tunisia's more liberal parties.
The magazine featured a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed on the front cover. Depiction of the prophet is widely prohibited in Islam for fear that it could lead to idolatry.
In 2007 a Paris court threw out a lawsuit brought against the magazine by two Muslim organizations upset at the reprinting of images of the Prophet by the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.
Westergaard received a prize from Chancellor Merkel last year
Those cartoons sparked outrage among Muslims worldwide after they appeared in a Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten in 2005. Westergaard, who has since been assaulted and threatened many times, has since lived under round-the-clock protection in Denmark.
In 2010 Charlie Hedbo also won a legal case brought by a conservative Catholic organization which had objected to the magazine's editorial allusions to child abuse scandals.
Author: Ian Johnson (AFP, KNA, Reuters, DPA)
Editor: Michael Lawton