KL, Jakarta join Arab world in slamming attack

KL, Jakarta join Arab world in slamming attack
A veiled woman holds a candle in front of the French embassy on January 8, 2015 in Rome during a rally in remembrance of the victims of an attack against Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly which killed 12 people in Paris.

Countries in Asia and the Arab world have slammed the Wednesday armed attack in Paris on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo that killed at least 12 people.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Twitter yesterday that Malaysians "stand in unity with" the French people and condemned the attack "in the strongest terms", while Indonesia's Foreign Ministry backed France's efforts to "bring the perpetrators to justice".

Mr Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India - which has the world's second-largest number of Muslims - called the attack "despicable" in a posting on Twitter.

China, which has had several deadly terrorist attacks in recent years, expressed shock over the act through its foreign ministry.

The Ulema Council of Indonesia - home to the world's largest population of Muslims - said the attack "contradicts the values of humanity" espoused by the religion.

"During the time of the Prophet, there were Christians and they were not killed but protected," Mr Muhyiddin Junaidi, the foreign relations head for the group of Islamic scholars, was reported as saying.

Controversial figures in the media of Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia also voiced their backing for Charlie Hebdo.

"They believe in criticism against everyone, whether you are Jesus Christ, the Pope or the French politicians especially," Jakarta Post editor Meidyatama Suryodiningrat told The Straits Times.

Such attacks "are carried out by those who fear freedom and are affectionate towards dogmatism", added Mr Meidyatama, who is being probed for blasphemy after his newspaper published a caricature of the flag of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.

Mr Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque, who is facing sedition charges in Malaysia over political satire cartoons, also condemned the "barbarity and brutality" of the attack against freedom of expression.

He said disagreement over the cartoons should be expressed "in a civilised manner, that is, (through) intellectual discourses, open debates".

But some, such as Malaysia's former premier Mahathir Mohamad, accused Charlie Hebdo of intentionally provoking Muslims. "I do not support the killings. But we must be mindful that if we purposely provoke others, we cannot be sure how they will react," he said.

Muslim leaders in the Arab world also condemned the attacks. Jordan and Saudi Arabia called the "terrorists" cowardly, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said terrorism "should be faced and terminated through joint international efforts".

However, according to Agence France-Presse, several Iranian newspapers said France was "tasting the bitter medicine of its support for terrorism", pointing to its backing for Syria's armed opposition and the international coalition waging air strikes against ISIS.


This article was first published on January 9, 2015.
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