An estimated 1,500 Muslims Filipinos organized a protest on Monday against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo after the jihadist massacre that killed 12 at the magazine’s office, including most of their senior staff.
The Agence France-Presse reports that the protest — in Marawi, one of the nation’s cities most inhabited by Muslims — consisted of individuals marching and holding signs that read, “France must Apologize,” and, “You mock our prophet, now you want an apology?”
The news outlet reports that protesters also cheered the burning of a poster of the magazine. In an image posted by The Guardian, the poster appears to show a fictional cover of Charlie Hebdo portraying a Star of David and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with the words “Zionist Conspiracy.”
The Mindanao Examiner, a regional newspaper covering Marawi, shows other protesters marching with signs that read, “You are Charlie – I am Muhammad,” and, “No Apology.” The newspaper quotes rally organizer Omar-Ali Mangondato Sharief as stating that the march is an attempt to “appeal to the world humanity to address the root cause of this issue which is religious intolerance and the lack of respect to religions.” In another statement in the Manila Bulletin, Sharief decried “continued blasphemy” and called for the world community to unite against expressions against Islam. While arguing against what he called “religious intolerance,” Sharief did not make any mention of the vast persecution of religious minorities by Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Iran, and other Islamic nations.
AFP reports that the rally was organized by a group called “Voice of the Masses,” and issued a statement condemning Charlie Hebdo and asserting that the killings were “a moral lesson for the world to respect any kind of religion, especially the religion of Islam.” The statement also denied that “freedom of expression” was extended to anyone discussing Allah or Muhammad.
The Philippines rally is the first of its size known in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. The most similar occurrence was not a protest but a celebratory parade in Peshawar, Pakistan, in which the Muslim community, organized by the Taliban, there marched to honor the “martyrs” that had killed 12 civilians in Paris. “These two brothers have paid the debt of all Muslims in the world and we present them our salute and respect,” said Imam Maulana Pir Mohammad Chishti, who organized the parade.
Influential Muslim commentators internationally have condemned Charlie Hebdo in the aftermath of the attack, while both Islamic State and Boko Haram leaders have praised the organizers of the terrorist attack in France.