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Two arrested over threats to French cartoonists

An 18-year-old man who threatened on Facebook the editors of the French satirical weekly that published cartoons of a naked Prophet Muhammad was charged Sunday with terrorism-related activity, a judicial source said.

Two arrested over threats to French cartoonists
Photo: Paul Baker

Police arrested the teenager in the southern city of Toulon on Wednesday after he was reported by a person close to him who was concerned over his radicalism.

Police found several knives at his residence and said the man had threatened to go after those in charge of the weekly, Charlie Hebdo.

He has been taken into custody and charged with "associating with criminals tied to a terrorist organisation", the source said.

The young man recently left high school to reportedly follow a religious practice.

At the same time, police released a man in his forties whom they had arrested Saturday in the western city of La Rochelle for apparently calling to decapitate Charlie Hebdo's editor, Stephane Charbonnier, on a jihadi website.

The weekly magazine published the cartoons Wednesday as often violent — and sometimes deadly — protests continued against an anti-Islam film made in the US that has enraged many Muslims.

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ISLAM

Erdogan calls French separatism bill ‘guillotine’ of democracy

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday denounced a planned French law designed to counter "Islamist separatism" as a "guillotine" of democracy.

Erdogan calls French separatism bill 'guillotine' of democracy
Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as "anti-Muslim". Photo: Adem ALTAN/AFP

The draft legislation has been criticised both inside France and abroad for stigmatising Muslims and giving the state new powers to limit speech and religious groups.

“The adoption of this law, which is openly in contradiction of human rights, freedom of religion and European values, will be a guillotine blow inflicted on French democracy,” said Erdogan in a speech in Ankara.

The current version of the planned law would only serve the cause of extremism, putting NGOs under pressure and “forcing young people to choose between their beliefs and their education”, he added.

READ ALSO: What’s in France’s new law to crack down on Islamist extremism?

“We call on the French authorities, and first of all President (Emmanuel) Macron, to act sensibly,” he continued. “We expect a rapid withdrawal of this bill.”

Erdogan also said he was ready to work with France on security issues and integration, but relations between the two leaders have been strained for some time.

France’s government is in the process of passing new legislation to crack down on what it has termed “Islamist separatism”, which would give the state more power to vet and disband religious groups judged to be threats to the nation.

Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as “anti-Muslim”.

READ ALSO: Has Macron succeeded in creating an ‘Islam for France’?

Last October, Erdogan questioned Macron’s “mental health”, accusing him of waging a “campaign of hatred” against Islam, after the French president defended the right of cartoonists to caricature the prophet Mohammed.

The two countries are also at odds on a number of other issues, including Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.

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