France cracks down on hate speech, sends carrier to Mideast
By LORI HINNANT
PARIS (AP) -- France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and those glorifying terrorism and announced Wednesday it was sending an aircraft carrier to the Mideast to work more closely with the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants.
Authorities said 54 people had been arrested for hate speech and defending terrorism since terror attacks killed 20 people in Paris last week, including three gunmen. The crackdown came as Charlie Hebdo's defiant new issue sold out before dawn around Paris, with scuffles at kiosks over dwindling copies of the satirical weekly that fronted the Prophet Muhammad anew on its cover.
President Francois Hollande, speaking spoke aboard the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to members of the military, said the situation "justifies the presence of our aircraft carrier."
One of the Paris gunmen had claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group, while two others said they were backed by Yemen's al-Qaida branch. France is already carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq.
A top leader of Yemen's al-Qaida branch claimed responsibility Wednesday for the Charlie Hebdo massacre that left 12 dead at the paper, saying in a video the massacre came in "vengeance for the prophet." The newspaper had received repeated threats previously for posting caricatures of Muhammad.
A high-ranking French intelligence official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that authorities see the claim as "opportunistic" and that AQAP appears to have served as an inspiration instead of orchestrating the attacks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to be able to discuss sensitive intelligence matters.
US intelligence officials, however, said they have no evidence AQAP coordinated the attack or knew about it in advance. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss classified matters publicly.
Since the attacks, France has deployed 10,000 troops and 120,000 security forces in an area the size of Texas to protect sensitive sites, including Jewish schools and synagogues, mosques and travel hubs. French police say as many as six members of the terror cell may still be at large.
France has been tightening security and searching for accomplices since the terror attacks began, but none of the 54 people mentioned Wednesday have been linked to the attacks. That's raising questions about whether Hollande's Socialist government is impinging on the very freedom of speech that it so vigorously defends when it comes to Charlie Hebdo.
Among those detained for a Facebook posting was Dieudonne, a popular and controversial comic who has repeated convictions for racism and anti-Semitism. He was later released and will be put on trial next month for justifying terrorism, a judicial official said on condition of anonymity in keeping with French custom.
Like many European countries, France has strong laws against hate speech, especially anti-Semitism in the wake of the Holocaust.
The Justice Ministry sent a letter to all French prosecutors and judges urging more aggressive tactics against racist or anti-Semitic speech or acts. The order did not mention Islam.
The core of Charlie Hebdo's staff died a week ago when gunmen stormed its offices, igniting three days of bloodshed around Paris that left 17 victims dead. The attacks ended Friday when security forces killed both Charlie Hebdo gunmen --brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi -- and an accomplice -- Amedy Coulibaly -- who killed a policewoman and later four hostages at a kosher grocery.
Working out of borrowed offices, the Charlie Hebdo employees who survived put out a new weekly issue Wednesday. Its 50,000 copies -- 10 times the normal circulation -- ran out nearly immediately. Due to the high demand, the print run was going up to 5 million, according to spokeswoman Anne Hommel -- 100 times the paper's usual circulation. Kiosk operators in Paris told people to return Thursday for a second run.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said Google is among many companies and individuals who donated money to produce this week's edition of Charlie Hebdo. The issue was distributed in 18 countries outside France and translated into other languages.
Many Muslims believe their faith forbids depictions of the prophet, and reacted with dismay -- and occasionally anger -- to the latest cover image. Some who had supported Charlie Hebdo after the terror attacks felt betrayed and others feared the cartoon would trigger yet more violence.
The publication raised tensions in Turkey, and caused huge crowds and frenzied eBay bidding in some European countries.
In its message to prosecutors and judges, France's Interior Ministry said it was issuing the crackdown on hate speech order to protect freedom of expression from comments that could incite violence or hatred. It said no one should be allowed to use their religion to justify hate speech.
The government order warned authorities to be particularly attentive to any incidents that could lead to urban unrest or violence against police. That suggests the government fears new riots like the wave which swept through France's neglected housing projects and immigrant communities a decade ago.
The government is writing broader new rules on phone-tapping and other intelligence to fight terrorism, spokesman Stephane Le Foll said. It also is launching a deeper project to rethink France's education system, urban policies and integration model, in an apparent recognition that the terror attacks exposed deeper problems about inequality in France, especially at its housing projects.
Dieudonne, a comic who popularized an arm gesture that resembles a Nazi salute and who has been convicted repeatedly of racism and anti-Semitism, is no stranger to controversy. His provocative performances were banned last year but he has a core following among France's disaffected youth.
The comic wrote an open letter to France's interior minister. "You are looking for a pretext to forbid me. You consider me like Amedy Coulibaly when I am not any different from Charlie," he wrote.
Coulibaly had claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group while the Kouachi brothers told survivors they were sent by al-Qaida in Yemen.
Defending his caricature of Muhammad on Charlie Hebdo's latest cover, cartoonist Renald Luzier argued that no exceptions should be made when it comes to the freedom of expression.
He said when the weekly was threatened in the past, the reaction was often: "Yes, but you shouldn't do that (publish cartoons of Muhammad). Yes, but you deserved that."
"There should be no more 'Yes, but," he insisted.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls displayed a copy of the satirical paper as he left a Cabinet meeting Wednesday but his hand carefully covered Muhammad's face.
Associated Press writers Sylvie Corbet, Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Milos Krivokapic and Dalton Bennett in Paris; Maggie Michael in Cairo; and Ken Dilanian in Washington contributed.
Later at url:
New issue of Charlie Hebdo sells out quickly
By ELAINE GANLEY and JAMEY KEATEN
January 14, 2015
PARIS (AP) -- Parisians lined up Wednesday to empty the newsstands of the first issue of Charlie Hebdo, a week after Islamic extremists attacked the satirical newspaper's office, and French justice officials began cracking down by arresting dozens of people who glorified terrorism or made racist or anti-Semitic remarks.
The editors of the publication again put a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad on the cover, and it quickly sold out by early morning around the capital and elsewhere, with long lines and scuffles at kiosks. Disappointed buyers were told to come back Thursday when more of the increased print run of 5 million copies will be available.
A leader of Yemen's al-Qaida branch officially claimed responsibility for the attacks by two gunmen that left 12 dead at the weekly publication, saying in a video posted online that the slayings came in "vengeance for the prophet." The newspaper had received repeated threats for lampooning Muhammad.
A third attacker killed five other people, bringing the total number of dead in the Jan. 7-9 spasm of violence to 17 before all the gunmen died in police raids.
On alert for new attacks, France deployed thousands of police and soldiers around the country, and they moved to quash any racist remarks or praise for terrorists.
The scale of security measures is raising questions in some quarters about whether some freedoms will be impinged upon.
At least 54 people were arrested for hate speech or other acts insulting religious faiths, or for cheering the men who carried out the attacks.
The new issue of Charlie Hebdo features the prophet, a tear rolling down his cheek, holding a placard that says "Je Suis Charlie." The saying has swept France and the world, with the irreverent newspaper being embraced as a symbol of freedom of speech.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls held up his copy after the weekly Cabinet meeting -- but strategically placed his hand over the prophet's face.
Muslims believe their faith forbids depictions of the prophet, and some reacted with dismay -- and occasional anger -- to the new cover. Some who had supported Charlie Hebdo after the attacks felt betrayed and others feared the cartoon would trigger yet more violence.
Defending his caricature of the prophet on the latest cover, cartoonist Renald Luzier argued that there should be no exceptions to freedom of expression.
He said when the weekly was threatened before, the reaction was often: "Yes, but you shouldn't do that (publish cartoons of Muhammad). Yes, but you deserved that."
"There should be no more 'Yes, but," he insisted.
In Turkey, a court in a southeastern city ordered a ban on access to websites showing the cover of Charlie Hebdo's new edition after a lawyer filed a petition saying it would endanger public order, the state-run Anadolu News Agency reported.
The issue was banned in Senegal, in west Africa, and the spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor's office, Laurens Dumont, said four shops in one neighborhood were threatened in one Brussels neighborhood if they sold it.
Egypt and Iran condemned the "provocative" publication. Egypt's top Islamic authority, Dar al-Ifta, had warned against publishing the cover after its content became known Monday.
President Francois Hollande, speaking aboard the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to members of the military, said he was sending the warship to the Middle East as part of the ramped-up effort to fight terrorism. The situation "justifies the presence of our aircraft carrier," Hollande said.
France is already carrying out airstrikes over Iraq as part of an international coalition fighting the Islamic State group.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, one of al-Qaida central's most active affiliates, posted an 11-minute video on the group's Twitter account. A top commander, Nasr al-Ansi, warned of more "tragedies and terror" in the future.
Al-Ansi said AQAP "chose the target, laid out the plan and financed the operation." He said the radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011, had arranged the attack.
But a high-ranking French intelligence official told The Associated Press that French authorities see the claim as "opportunistic," and that AQAP appears to have served as an inspiration -- not an orchestrator -- of the attacks. That account coincided with U.S. intelligence officials who said they have no evidence AQAP coordinated the attack or knew of it in advance. All three officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss classified matters publicly.
The brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, behind the Charlie Hebdo massacre, had told survivors they were sent by al-Qaida in Yemen. Amedy Coulibaly, the third gunman who killed a policewoman and four people at a Paris kosher supermarket, had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, normally a bitter rival of al-Qaida.
French police say as many as six members of the terror cell may still be at large, including a man seen driving a car registered to the widow of one of the gunmen. Officials say the widow is now in Syria. There has been no word on the whereabouts of the driver or the car.
Since the attacks, France has deployed 10,000 troops and 120,000 security forces around France, an area the size of Texas, to protect sensitive sites, including Jewish schools and synagogues, mosques and travel hubs.
Police were detaining anyone who shows even verbal support for terrorism or racism and anti-Semitism. Scores of mosques have been attacked in the past week.
The 54 people arrested included four minors, and several already had been convicted under special measures for immediate sentencing. Inciting terrorism can bring a five-year prison term -- or up to seven years for inciting terrorism online.
Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, a popular and controversial comic, was briefly detained and ordered to trial in February on charges of justifying terrorism. He has repeated convictions for racism and anti-Semitism, and most recently called himself "Charlie Coulibaly" in a Facebook post, mixing the names of the newspaper and the market attacker.
France already has laws on the books against hate speech, especially anti-Semitism in the wake of the Holocaust. However, the Justice Ministry laid out new rules to prosecutors and judges for rounding up those who defend the Paris terror attacks or speak against religions.
Education Minister Najat Vallaud Belkacem expressed deep concern about the failure of students in some schools to honor the minute of silence held this week.
"Schools are on the front line. They will be firm in sanctioning," she said.
The failure of some students to join in the national effort to tackle terrorism underscores the malaise in poor suburbs, usually with populations with roots in Arab countries and on the margins of mainstream society and living with a sense that their own religion has been stigmatized.
The surviving employees of Charlie Hebdo produced the new issue while working out of borrowed offices.
The French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin has promised 1 million euros in "emergency" financing to the weekly, although it was not clear when the funds would be released. It was also unclear whether, even with financing, the Charlie Hebdo staff would publish on a weekly basis as in the past. The weekly cost 3 euros ($3.55).
The publication's comeback also is being backed by the Digital Innovation Press Fund, which was created by Google and a French publishing trade group in 2013. The fund is contributing 250,000 euros (about $295,000) to the publication, according to its managing director, Ludovic Blecher.
"It is an exceptional answer to an exceptional situation," Blecher said Wednesday. "Our fund is dedicated to help the press."
Google holds one of seven seats on the fund's board.
Keaten reported from aboard the Charles de Gaulle. Associated Press writers Lori Hinnant, Sylvie Corbet, Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Milos Krivokapic, Dalton Bennett in Paris; Maggie Michael in Cairo; and Ken Dilanian in Washington contributed to this report.