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Saturday, April 01, 2006

The religious police in France

Who said the religious police are only in Saudi Arabia and Iran? They're alive and well in France too. A group of French cartoonists poking fun at all religions in a exhibition had to censor their work because they were threatened by gangs wielding iron rods. Apparently, these gangs left their native countries and are now working on forcing their own laws on other countries - and by force if needed.

PARIS -- A gang of young Muslims wielding iron rods has forced a Paris cafe to censor an exhibition of cartoons ridiculing religion, the owners of the establishment said on Friday.

Some 50 drawings by well-known French cartoonists were installed in the Mer a Boire cafe in the working-class Belleville neighborhood of northeast Paris, as part of an avowedly atheist show entitled, "Neither god nor god".

The collection targeted all religions - including Islam - but there were no representations of the Prophet Mohammed such as sparked the recent crisis between the West and the Islamic world, according to Marianne who is one of the cafe's three owners.

Later the cafe-owners were approached by a group of older youths. "They said they did not approve of what the youngsters had done. But what we were doing was unacceptable, too. They warned us that if we didn't take down the cartoons they would call in the Muslim Brothers who would burn the cafe down," said Marianne. "They kept saying: 'This is our home. You cannot act like this here'," she said.

The cartoonist responded so well
Refusing to dismantle the exhibition, the owners have placed white sheets of paper inscribed with the word 'censored' over the cartoons that were targeted by the gang.

"To take down the cartoons would have been a surrender. But on the other hand we cannot expose ourselves to this kind of violence. This way you can still see the pictures if you lift the paper," said Marianne.

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