CAIRO: Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta, the government-sponsored religious body responsible for issuing fatwas, has condemned Wednesday’s attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo “whether it is religiously-motivated or stemmed from reckless actions,” said spokesperson for the institute Ibrahim Negm.
The attack was reportedly launched by two unidentified gunmen targeting the Paris office of the magazine, killing at least 12 people and injuring 10 at time of writing. Leading French newspapers including Le Libration and Le Point have reported that the Editor-in-chief Director and famous French caricaturist Charb was killed in the attack.
In an eyewitness broadcast on French television, two assailants went out of a black car and opened fire on a police officer lying on a sidewalk, after he had been injured in a exchange of fire with them. In another video, “Allah Akbar,” or “Allah is great,” is heard shouted.
The identities of the perpetrators have not yet been identified, and the French police were reported by BBC to have launched a major operation in the Paris area in their hunt for the attackers.
The magazine has a history of being under scrutiny after publishing caricature of the Prophet Muhammad; it was fire bombed in November 2011.
The latest tweet on Charlie Hebdo’s account on Twitter was featuring the leader of the Islamic State group (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shokry condemned “in the strongest terms” the “terrorist” attack that took place in Paris, and he offered Egypt’s condolences to the French government and people, according to a Wednesday statement.
Negm told The Cairo Post he called on all Islamic organizations in France to officially condemn this crime and “to explain the Islamic vision regarding the respect of the right to freedom of expression as a basic guarantor for the democratic process in the whole world.”
He said that those who committed the attacks are seen by all religions as “devoid of humanity and Islam is innocent of such attacks.”
Dar Al-Ifta has previously denounced extremism practiced by Islamic militant groups in Egypt and abroad. Such high-profile extremism is widely viewed as contributing to the growth of Islamophobia. The prestigious Islamic institute has recently launched an international campaign to “correct a distorted view of Islam.”
Negm has also called on the French government to protect Muslims living in France from retaliatory attacks following the attack. He also requested the French government not to rush and associate the attack with Islam, and urged for speedy investigations into the attack to reveal the perpetrators’ identities.