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France Arrests 54 for Defending Terrorism

© AFP 2023 / FRANCOIS LO PRESTIMembers of the French police special force GIPN
Members of the French police special force GIPN - Sputnik International
At least 54 people have been detained for defending or glorifying terrorism in France since the country’s deadly terror attack a week ago.

Charlie Hebdo newspaper is displayed next a newsstand with a poster reading  I am Charlie in Nice southeastern France - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW, January 14 (Sputnik) — Dozens have been arrested or detained in France for defending terrorism, including controversial French comic Dieudonne; some of them have already been convicted, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

The arrests come as the French government prepares tougher anti-terrorism measures after what became France’s worst terror attack in decades.

On January 7, 12 people were killed when two gunmen opened fire in the offices of the Parisian satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, in revenge for the paper's publication of satirical images of Mohammad in the past. The core of the magazine’s comic illustrators died in the attack.

According to the Guardian, Dieudonne, who had been accused of anti-Semitism for his remarks in the past, had posted on his Facebook account, "Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly", mixing the slogan "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie), which has been used in tribute to the journalists killed at Charlie Hebdo, with a reference to gunman Amédy Coulibaly, who killed four people at a Jewish supermarket on Friday.

Charlie Hebdo newspaper is displayed next a newsstand with a poster reading  I am Charlie in Nice southeastern France - Sputnik International
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On Wednesday, the newest issue of Charlie Hebdo, which defiantly featured the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign reading "Je suis Charlie" quickly vanished from kiosks, with fisticuffs among customers reported at one newsstand near Saint-Lazar in Paris earlier in the day.

Charlie Hebdo's defiant new issue sold out before dawn Wednesday around Paris, with some scuffles at kiosks over dwindling copies of the satirical paper fronting the Prophet Muhammad. In a city still shaken after deadly Islamic terror attacks, authorities said 54 people had been detained for defending or glorifying terrorism.

The arrests are part of a broader French crackdown that includes a government push for tougher anti-terrorism measures after the attacks, the worst in France in decades.

Dieudonne, a controversial comic with a large following in France, was among those detained. Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said some of those detained have already been convicted — a display of French justice that was notably rapid.

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