Charlie Hebdo attack: African newspapers apologise over cover

  • 15 January 2015
  • From the section Africa
A sign at a newsstand says the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo magazine has sold out on 14 January 2015 in Paris Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The first run of copies of the magazine were sold out within hours

Two African newspapers have apologised for publishing Charlie Hebdo's cover depicting the Prophet Muhammad, after an outcry from Muslim readers.

Kenya's The Star and South Africa's The Citizen said they regretted any offence caused to Muslims.

Kenya's media regulator has summoned The Star's owner after accusing it of breaching decency. It did not single out the cartoon.

In Senegal, the government has banned Charlie Hebdo's distribution.

A second Kenyan newspaper, Business Daily, has also published the French satirical magazine's cover.

In its Thursday morning edition, the Star said many Muslim readers had complained over a "small reproduction" of Charlie Hebdo's cover on Wednesday.

Apologising, the paper, Kenya's third biggest, said it "sincerely regrets any offence and pain caused by the picture".


Image copyright The Star
Image caption The Star is an influential Kenyan daily

The government-appointed Media Council of Kenya said in a statement that it was "incensed by the persistent publishing of offensive stories and pictures by the Star newspaper".

It has summoned The Star's owners to a meeting to explain the "unprofessional" conduct of its journalists before it decides on action.

This could include the withdrawal of the accreditation of the newspaper's journalists. The Star has not commented on the council's statement.

Kenya has suffered multiple attacks from al-Shebaab militants, who called the Charlie Hebdo attacks "heroic".

South Africa's The Citizen said it apologised to all who were offended by it reprinting the cartoon.

"We deplore those killings, as we do any attempt to enforce censorship through violence," an editorial said.

'Muslim sensibilities'

In Senegal, which has a majority Muslim population, the government has banned Charlie Hebdo's distribution.

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

The magazine's cover shows the prophet weeping while holding a sign saying "I am Charlie", and below the headline "All is forgiven".

Twelve people, including some of the magazine's best known cartoonists, were killed last week by militant Islamist gunmen who said they were avenging a 2005 depiction of Prophet Muhammad.

An interior ministry statement reported on the Senegalese news agency APS said it was banning the distribution of Charlie Hebdo by "all means".

The ban includes French newspaper Liberation, which also carried the front cover.

Analysis: Abdourahmane Dia, BBC Africa, Dakar

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption 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.

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 attack from militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

The issue of depicting the Prophet Muhammad

Muslim media anger at new cartoon

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Millions of people rallied around Charlie Hebdo after the attack on its staff

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