Islamic Graffiti Vandals target French in Gaza

Masked men sprayed graffiti on the walls of the French Cultural Centre in Gaza city on Friday to protest against offensive cartoons republished by the French weekly Charlie Hebdo that allegedly ridicule Prophet Muhammad of the Islamic faith.The graffiti read “Anything but the messenger of Allah (God),” and “French journalists go to hell”. The caretakers of the Centre will now be working to quickly remove the graffiti before it encourages others to add to it.

Gaza police arrived at the French Cultural Center building in western Gaza city to investigate the incident and were deployed outside the compound’s main gate as well as on the adjacent main road, an AFP correspondent reported. The French cultural centre was twice under bomb attacks in October and December.

On Thursday, the Palestinian presidency condemned in an official statement Charlie Hebdo’s insistence to publish the offensive cartoon and circulate 3 million copies.”We stood on the side of the French people against terrorism, but at the same time freedom of expression has to be respected, mainly when it comes to religion,” said the official Palestinian statement. Also, the Islamist Hamas movement slammed the French media for publishing offensive cartoons satire of the prophet.

Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman in Gaza said in an emailed press statement that “Charlie Hebdo is a clear provocation to the Muslims’ feelings all over the world.””The aim of publishing the offensive cartoon against Prophet Muhammad is to strengthen the culture of hatred against Islam and the Muslims and an intentional incitement to using violence against Muslims,” said Barhoum.

The cartoon of Mohammed was published on the Charlie Hebdo magazine last Wednesday, in its first edition since an attack on its Paris offices claimed by Al-Qaeda that killed 12 people on January 7, sparking angry protests across the Muslim world.

Graffiti is used in a wide variety of ways across the world but is generally seen as provocative vandalism and is best dealt with by removing graffiti quickly and putting graffiti prevention methods in place such as increased vegetation, art murals, quick removal and increased lighting and security.