Gaza jihadist supporters rally against France, praise Islamic State

Palestinian Salafists shout during a protest against satirical French weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, outside the French Cultural Centre in Gaza city January 19, 2015. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

(Reuters) – Hamas security forces allowed a rare rally on Monday by rival jihadist Salafi activists in the Gaza Strip in support of Islamic State and the deadly attacks by three Islamist gunmen in France.

“Today, we are telling France and world countries that while Islam orders us to respect all religions, it also orders us to punish and kill those who assault and offend Islam’s Prophet Mohammad,” said one of the protesters, Abu Abdallah al-Makdissi.

The demonstration was held five days after French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, in its first issue since two gunmen burst into its Paris office on Jan. 7 and shot dead 12 people, again published a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad, sparking violent clashes in some Muslim countries.

Many of the activists in Gaza, an enclave dominated by the Hamas Islamist group, wore uniforms similar to those of Islamic State fighters and identified themselves as supporters of various jihadist Salafi factions.

Gaza’s Salafis are proponents of global holy war endorsed by Islamic State and al Qaeda. Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, says it does not operate abroad, and it has shown little tolerance for Salafi movements in the Gaza Strip, occasionally fighting gun battles with their members…

Palestinian Salafist shouts during a protest against satirical French weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo's cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, outside the French Cultural Centre in Gaza

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