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Amir Aboguddah, President of Muslim Student Association of University of Regina.

On Jan. 7, two Islamic extremist brothers massacred 17 people at the Charlie Hebdo magazine's office in Paris. The magazine is known for cartoons that poke fun at Islam and other religions, as well as public figures. It's not surprising that, in its first issue since the attack, Charlie Hebdo again put Muhammad on the cover. But this time, instead of showing the Prophet in an unflattering light, the magazine struck a far different tone—and was received by some Muslims in a far different way.

 

“I certainly hope that it does not bring any violence. Even if you want to talk in an Islamic perspective, the Prophet Muhammad was insulted, offended many times in his life, but he never responded with violence. So respond to it appropriately or ignore it,” said Amir Aboguddah, president of Muslim Student Association at the University of Regina.

 

While the published cartoons will inevitably be hurtful to Muslims, the reaction must be a reflection of the teachings of the Prophet all Muslims love, Aboguddah said. Not violence, but enduring patience, tolerance, gentleness and mercy will be the best option for all Muslims, he added.

 

There's nothing in the Quran, Islam's primary text, about depicting the Prophet. However, according to the Hadith stories and sayings attributed to Muhammad and his companions, the Prophet discouraged Muslims from making images of him. Many Muslims think the depicting the Prophet is offensive and deliberately provocative.

 

"My initial thought is that the cover is a near perfect response to the tragedy because of high emotion after the attack," said Aboguddah. He also added, “I think to draw this cartoon and publish is unwise and it is not the best form of freedom of expression. Satire is generally aimed at powerful people and people of authority.”

 

Many have criticized the magazine for satirizing the religion of a marginalized community, when satire is meant to poke at the powerful. One of the former employees of Charlie Hebdo, Olivier Cyran, quit in 2005 and said the magazine moved from satire to Islamophobia, said Aboguddah.

 

Aboguddah is not pleased by any depictions of Muhammad, but said it's clear that this Hebdo cover, unlike others, is not meant to make fun of Muslims. He said he respects the right to free speech, but there appears to be a double standard when it comes to what Western society and Charlie Hebdo find suitable for mocking.

 

The cover illustration is relatively mild by the standards of previous Charlie Hebdo cartoons — including one showing Muhammad naked on all fours — and there is plenty in the image to cause outrage. Many Muslims consider illustrations of the Prophet to be blasphemous and will find it hard to accept the drawing.

 

“When I was a teenager, I used to read Charlie Hebdo a lot. I have mixed feelings because I have lots of Muslim friends, but I love Charlie Hebdo,” said Angeline Dubois, a research centre coordinator at l'Institut francais, University of Regina.

 

She was in Paris when the Charlie Hebdo office was attacked. “I was almost crying,” she said.

 

In Canada, no English newspaper printed Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, but nearly all Quebec newspapers showed their support and printed the cartoon on their front pages.

 

“It’s kind of Quebec culture. To support French newspapers they took this initiative, it is normal. I am not a fan of Charlie Hebdo but I read it to laugh and I love their integrity,” said Frederic Dupre, originally from Quebec and now working as a manager community engagement at l'Institut francais, at the University of Regina.

 

The post-attack issue will be available in six languages, including English, Arabic and Turkish. Only the French, Italian and Turkish versions will be printed. The other three - English, Spanish and Arabic - will be offered in electronic form, according to their online news.

 

Before the attacks, the weekly had a normal press run of about 65,000. This week, it is expected to rise to 5 million — only about a million fewer than the number of people who took to the streets Sunday across France in a historic display of solidarity against terrorism.