Charlie Hebdo writer may lose job amid infighting

A columnist for French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which was targeted in a deadly jihadist attack four months ago, has been warned she may be given the boot for “serious misconduct” amid heightened tensions in the newsroom.

Charlie Hebdo writer may lose job amid infighting
Zineb El Rhazoui says she is "shocked" by the news. Photo: Martin Bureau/ AFP

In a letter obtained by broadcaster France Info and dated May 13th, journalist Zineb El Rhazoui was told by Charlie Hebdo's human resources to immediately leave her post ahead of a meeting scheduled for later this month and where her potential dismissal will be discussed.

The letter stated El Rhazoui, who has worked for the magazine since 2011, had committed “serious misconduct,” but did not give any further details.

Speaking to French daily Le Monde, El Rhazoui said she was “shocked and appalled that a management that has received so much support since the attacks in January can show such little support for one of its own employees, and who, just like everyone else on the team, lives under threat.”

Since February, El Rhazoui and her husband have lived under police protection after being subject to jihadist death threats.

The basis for El Rhazoui's alleged misconduct was not immediately clear, but she told Le Monde that it was likely a “punitive measure” for being among the 11 Charlie Hebdo staff members who last month called for all employees to become equal shareholders in the magazine. The weekly has bagged more than €30 million in donations and proceeds since the attack.

Charlie Hebdo is currently 40 percent owned by the parents of Charb, the former director of the magazine who was killed in the January 7 attacks, 40 percent by cartoonist Riss, who is recovering from shoulder wounds obtained in the shooting and 20 percent by joint manager Eric Portheault.

Until the attacks, Charlie Hebdo was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and was selling only around 30,000 copies a week.

But a “survivors' issue” published a week after the attacks flew off the shelves and ended up selling seven million copies.

In addition, the magazine was also inundated with donations as it became a symbol of free speech and the Twitter hashtag #JeSuisCharlie became known worldwide.

The magazine has previously said that the donations would go to the victims' families and that proceeds from the sales would be used for the magazine as well as for creating a foundation that would teach freedom of expression in schools.

On January 7, two Islamist brothers stormed into the magazine's central Paris offices, spraying bullets, saying they were taking revenge for Charlie Hebdo's depiction of prophet Muhammad, seen as highly offensive by Muslims.

They then shot a policeman outside the offices, bringing the total death toll to 12.

The attack was the first wave in a series of killings to rock the French capital. The day after, another jihadist shot dead a policewoman and then went on to kill four Jews in a kosher supermarket on January 9.


Fury over Charlie Hebdo Italy quake cartoon

A Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting victims of the Italian earthquake victims as lasagna has sparked outrage in the country which is still mourning the nearly 300 people who died in last week's tragedy.

Fury over Charlie Hebdo Italy quake cartoon
The French embassy in Rome immediately issued a statement saying the carton ‘in no way’ represents France’s position. Photo: Mario Laporta, AFP

“The drawings are repugnant,” said Italian Justice Minister Andrea Orlando,as furious reactions began flooding social media sites.

“I don't think its useful to comment further as I think that would produce precisely the sought after effect…  that is to create a scandal,” and draw attention to the cartoons, he added.

The drawings in the current edition of the French satirical weekly depict bloodied victims of the quake.

The words “penne tomato sauce” appear above a picture of a bloodied and bandaged man, while a woman with burns is described as “penne gratin”.

To their right, a pile of bodies under layers of rubble is titled lasagne”.

The cartoons are captioned “Earthquake Italian style”.

The quake struck central Italy on August 24, with the small town of Amatrice bearing the brunt. The town is the home of the all'amatriciana pasta dish.

Italian Senate leader Pietro Grasso said that he respected “the freedom of satire and of irony,” but added that “I am free to say that all this is disgusting”.

Charlie Hebdo's offices in Paris were the scene of a deadly jihadist attackin January last year.

Jihadist brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi gunned down eight Charlie staff as well as several others in and around their building in the attack on the magazine whose drawings of Mohammed drew furious reactions from Muslims worldwide.

There was a wave of international sympathy for the magazine and its staff after that attack.

The French embassy in Rome issued a statement on the quake drawings Friday, saying that “the Charlie Hebdo cartoon in no way represents France's position”.