Muslims are main victims of fanatics: French president

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SHAFAQNA- French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that Muslims were the main victims of fanaticism, as five of the 17 killed in last week’s militant attacks in Paris were laid to rest

Speaking at the Arab World Institute here, Mr Hollande said: “It is Muslims who are the main victims of fanaticism, fundamentalism and intolerance,” adding the country was “united in the face of terrorism”.

The Muslim community in France, Europe’s largest, has “the same rights and the same duties as all citizens” and must be protected, he said.

The five burials included those of two of controversial weekly Charlie Hebdo’s best-known cartoonists. Georges Wolinski, 80, and Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac, 57, were buried at private family funerals after they were gunned down by two brothers in an attack claimed by Al Qaeda.

Debate is mounting in France over where freedom of expression begins and where it ends.

Millions rallied in support of free speech after the assault, while French prosecutors, under government orders to crack down on hate crimes, have opened more than 50 cases for condoning terrorism or making threats to carry out terrorist acts since the attack.

Meanwhile, cover of the new edition of Charlie Hebdo has sparked protests in some parts of the Muslim world, where many find the depiction of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) highly offensive.

The Afghan Taliban on Thursday condemned publication of more controversial sketches by the magazine and praised the gunmen, saying they were “bringing the perpetrators of the obscene act to justice”.

A Turkish court ordered a block on websites featuring images of Charlie Hebdo’s cover, while Senegal said it was banning the distribution of the controversial magazine and the French daily Liberation, which also put a cartoon of the prophet on its front page.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu described the cover as a “grave provocation”. “Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to insult,” he told reporters in Ankara.

But many have taken a nuanced stance and tried to calm tensions, with French Muslim leaders urging their communities — which have been targeted with attacks on mosques in the wake of the Paris killings — to “stay calm and avoid emotive reactions”.

A shell-shocked France has dep­loy­ed armed police to protect synagogues and Jewish schools and called up 10,000 troops to guard against other attacks.

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