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Israel court allows hard-right party to hand out Charlie Hebdo in election campaign

media Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman ReutersEmil Salman

As French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published its second issue since the massacre at its offices in January, Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s hard-right Yisrael Beitenu party can give copies of the previous issue away as election propaganda.

Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday printed 2.5 million copies of the second issue since the deadly attack, far below the eight million of the previous issue sold worldwide and sales were reported to be much slower than for the “survivors” number.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday voted 2-1 that Beitenu could hand out copies of that issue for free as part of its campaign for seats in the 17 March general election.

“In the form of election propaganda, they are allowed to distribute the special issue of Charlie Hebdo to voters,” the court ruled.

The country’s electoral commission had earlier decided that giving away the papers would constitute bribery.

Lieberman congratulated the court for making "the right decision," which "sends an important message that Israel remains a Jewish and democratic state and does not give in to threats of violence by Arab MKs who are trying to turn Israel into the Islamic state".

When an Israeli bookshop decided to sell the paper, whose front page featured a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed, online United Arab List Member of the Knesset Masud Gnaim warned that a red line had been crossed for Israeli Arabs and that the shop would be “responsible for the results”.

That prompted Beitenu activists to display copies of the paper on a stall after taping their mouths shut.

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