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Worries about Muhammad cartoon forces sales online

26 January 2015, 07:57

Tel Aviv - The first edition of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to be released in Israel following the fatal 7 January terrorist attack upon the magazine's Paris offices will only be available online, a publisher announced on Sunday.

Steimatzky, the country's biggest bookstore chain, has decided not to sell the printed version, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.

The firm said in a statement that it "decisively supports freedom of expression", had sold Charlie Hebdo for years and would continue to do so.

But a special event planned at a Steimatzki store in a mall outside Tel Aviv, at which the first issue would have been sold, was cancelled.

Instead, the online sale would start on Monday at 17:00.

Also read: Charlie Hebdo 'survivors' issue sells out in NYC 

An Arab lawmaker in the Israeli parliament, Masud Ganaim, has strongly protested the planned sale in Israel of the edition, which he said featured a cartoon that insults the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he slammed the planned sale as a "dangerous and stupid step" and warned of unrest by Muslims in the country.

He called on Netanyahu to prevent Steimatzky from distributing it also online.

"If you don't intervene, the Israeli government and the Steimatzky chain will be responsible for any consequences that could happen," he said.

But Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the right-wing Israel Beiteinu faction, instructed young party activists to buy thousands of copies and distribute them for free, saying "we will not allow radical Islam to terrorise Israel and harm freedom of expression".



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