Local newsagent Wendy’s News has withdrawn from selling the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo magazine, following threats to their shop.
Despite initially ordering 500 copies of the magazine, and then an additional 500 copies in response to consumer demand, Wendy’s News made the decision not to sell the paper. This comes after threats were made towards the shop over the phone and on Facebook.
Owner of Wendy’s, Adam Esmail, told The Oxford Mail: “We have been unable to get hold of copies yet and because of threats we have received over the last few days from around the UK we won’t be selling the magazine.
“We don’t want to provoke Muslim people, I am a Muslim myself”.
Five million copies have been printed of the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo, following the terrorist attack on their offices on 7th January in which 12 people died.
One critic of Wendy’s original decision to sell the magazine was founder of the Oxford Islamic Information Centre, Dr Sheikh Ramzy. On the evening of 16th January, Ramzy lead a protest in Bonn Square against the magazine, which was attended by around 20 people.
Ramzy told The Oxford Student that the magazine’s cover, which depicts a sobbing image of the Prophet Mohammed holding a sign with “Je Suis Charlie” written on it, “insults all 3 million of the world’s Muslim population”.
In Islamic tradition, it is forbidden to portray a likeness of any prophet of God, including Mohammed.
He continued by saying that it was “totally wrong” to sell the magazine anywhere, and that he was “very pleased” to learn of Wendy’s News’ decision.
Ramzy also condemed the “aggressive, extremist” Paris attacks and concluded by saying that now the matter was over it was a chance to “pray for peace”.
Zahra Rumani, Media and Politics Officer for the Oxford Islamic Society, said: “I am horrified that anyone would threaten the newsagent based on their decision to stock the magazine. It never fails to surprise me that anyone could think that the apropriate way to deal with offence is to resort to violent means. If the decision to cancel the order was influenced in any way by the threats, it was clearly the right thing to do; obviously the safety of employees is of paramount importance”.
First year student and previous employee of UN, Amelia Cooper, commented: “Do newspaper shops have the right to sell the magazine? Wholly, unequivocally yes. The cartoons did not contravene laws regarding free speech, or nuanced international guidance. No idea should be protected from criticism, and people do not have the right not to be offended”.
Thames Valley Police did not respond to our request for comment.