Middle East

Paris attack: Middle East press condemns killings

Egyptian newspaper front pages Image copyright BBC Monitoring
Image caption Egyptian newspaper front pages on Thursday

The overwhelming tone of reaction from Middle Eastern press is one of shock and categorical condemnation of the 7 January attack on the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo and the killing of 12 people.

But within the overall rejection that dominated the papers' front pages, a small number of papers raised questions about Western governments' policies in the world. Some papers also raised fears of a backlash against Muslims in Europe.

Most Arab papers across the Middle East are carrying their countries' official condemnation of the attack. In their own words, numerous dailies describe the attack as "a massacre". "Paris: Massacre at an editorial meeting", was a headline in Al-Sharq al-Awsat, a popular London-based pan-Arab daily.

Image copyright Al Fadjr
Image caption Algerian Al-Fadjr declares, "Massacre in the heart of Paris!"

In Algeria, headlines in privately-owned papers El Khabar and Al-Fadjr both speak of a "massacre in the heart of Paris".

An editorial in Egypt's private Al-Yawm al-Sabi daily says that "terrorists" in France and Europe "succeeded in crossing the security and intelligence barriers", expressing concern that "nobody is safe".

"European streets in general and French ones in particular are turning into a battlefield of radical, extremist Islamist zealotry", says an article in Israel's Jerusalem Post.

Western role

But others, such as Egyptian privately-owned Al-Watan, see a Western role in "feeding terrorism".

The UAE's pro-government Al-Khalij says: "Terrorism is absolutely condemned regardless of the negative role that France has played regarding terrorism and which contributed to its growth and spread."

Image copyright Iran
Image caption Iran newspaper's headline (under large image) declares, 'The terrorists' bloody show in Paris'

In Iran, reformist daily Sharq calls the attack "a terrorist incident" and expresses alarm that militants armed with heavy weapons were able to use them in central Paris. "This incident shows that people with French or any other EU passports can easily commit such actions anywhere on European soil," an editorial in the paper warns.

But, Sharq goes on, the West shares part of the blame for what happened. To prevent similar attacks in the future, the newspaper urges the US and the EU to "review their policies towards the Islamic world and the Middle East as soon as possible".

Echoing the sentiment, official daily Iran says that the shooting took place after "a wave of Islamophobia has emerged in France's neighbour, Germany".

In similar vein, Rachid Ould Boussiafa, a columnist in Algerian Echorouk newspaper, predicts "dark days ahead for Muslims in France".

He terms the attack "a present to the extreme right" in France. "The effect of this attack will be catastrophic for Muslims of France," the columnist says.

'11 September for cartoons'

North African cartoonists empathised strongly with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack, vehemently condemning the killings.

Popular Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem called the attack an "11 September for cartoons", Algerian Le Matin newspaper reports.

He posted two cartoons on his Facebook page, one a homage to the French magazine, and the other an image of a man writing in blood: "The idiots have killed me".

Tunisian cartoonist Nadia Khiari, who created the cartoon cat Willis From Tunis, posted a caricature of Willis holding a pencil dripping blood with the caption: "Today you have killed the artists, but legions of new artists will be born!"

Cartoonists are not the only ones feeling a personal connection with the slain Charlie Hebdo staff. Lebanon's Al-Nahar daily considers the incident "a new attack on the freedom of expression which Al-Nahar daily itself has been subject to, as in 2005 when its journalists, Gebran Tueni and Samir Kassir, were assassinated".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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