Algerian Offers to Buy Charlie Hebdo to Defend Freedom while continuing to pay the fines of Muslim women who are being targeted for wearing the niqab
Rachid Nekkaz gave up French citizenship, put off by what he sees as the nation’s anti-Muslim policies. Now his attachment to the country’s values is prompting him to offer to invest in Charlie Hebdo, the satirical weekly ravaged by an Islamist massacre this week.
Nekkaz says he contacted the satirical newspaper’s staff to offer 700,000 euros ($820,000) for a 51 percent stake in Les Editions Rotatives, the holding company that owns the publication and is controlled by senior staff. The terms are the same as a previous offer in 2012 and include a guarantee of independence, he said.
“Muslims accept the publication of Charlie Hebdo caricatures even when it goes against their beliefs,” he said.
The French government has pledged 1 million euros in aid for the magazine, Le Figaro reported. The magazine’s surviving staff plan to print a million copies this week, compared with a typical run of 60,000.
The 43 year-old describes himself as a “die-hard republican” and says paying fines for women punished for covering their faces and helping Charlie Hebdo both stem from his commitment to “freedom of expression, religion, movement or choice of garments.”
In the last three and a half years, Nekkaz says he’s paid 894 fines for a total amount of 206,000 euros. He plans to fly to France next week to pay three more in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Longjumeau, close to Paris, and Vaulx-en-Velin, near Lyon in the south. His campaign has prompted some members of the French Parliament to push for a law to stop him.
“The gap is deepening between the Republic’s beautiful ideals and the way they’re actually implemented on the ground,” he said. “I won’t accept that fear of Islam is exploited to push through laws that restrict our freedom.”