In a twist of irony, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was attacked by Islamic extremists in January after publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, has reportedly suspended one of its columnists after she received death threats for writing critically about radical Islam.
The French news site Le Monde has reported that Charlie Hebdo journalist Zineb El Rhazoui, who has joint French and Moroccan nationality, was called into a preliminary dismissal hearing last Friday, which allegedly could be the first step in a process that could lead to Rhazoui's firing.
A spokesperson for Charlie Hebdo assured on Friday that the meeting was to remind Rhazoui of her obligations to the paper. However, the 33 year old accused her employer of punishing her for speaking out about the editorial direction the newspaper has gone in since it was victimized by a deadly attack conducted by radical Muslims on Jan. 7, which left 12 employees dead.
France 24 reports that since the January attack, Rhazoui has been the leading voice for the newspaper on the Islamic front, and was surprised when she received a summons from the newspaper's management.
"I am shocked and appalled that a management that has received so much support after the January attacks could show so little support for one of its employees, who is under pressure like everyone in the team and has faced threats," Rhazoui was quoted as saying.
Rhazoui's critical works on Islamic fundamentalism include a collaboration piece titled, "The Life of Mohammed," which she worked on with slain Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, who was killed in the Jan. 7 attack.
Rhazoui said in light of her articles on radical Islam, even her Husband has lost his employment and received threats from upset Muslims.
"My husband lost his job and had to leave Morocco because the jihadists revealed his workplace," she explained. "I am under threat and having to live with friends or in a hotel and the management is thinking of firing me. Bravo Charlie."
Le Monde also reports that a well-known Charlie Hebdo contributor, Patrick Pelloux, sent an email to Rhazoui. Pelloux wrote that it's contradictory for the company to take disciplinary actions against its own employees during trying times when the paper has been internationally praised as a free speech champion.
"We're all still recovering from the attack. Summoning a team member who is still suffering is wicked and disloyal," Pelloux was quoted as writing. "Receiving a prize for freedom of expression and threatening journalists is paradoxical."
According to Radio France Internationale, another reason that Rhazoui thinks she was summoned was due to the fact that she's one of 15 employees who called for an equal ownership of Charlie Hebdo. The paper is now 40 percent owned by Charbonnier's family, while 40 percent is owned by a cartoonist and 20 percent is owned by the paper's chief financial officer.
The 15 employees also addressed concerns that the once nearly-bankrupted newspaper will stray away from its left-wing, anti-religious tilt and start catering to its coffers, after receiving great financial support from donations as a result of the January attack. The disgruntled employees labeled this "the poison of the millions."