In an opinion piece published just hours after 12 people were killed in the Paris assault, Tony Barber said that "Charlie Hebdo has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims," adding: “France is the land of Voltaire, but too often editorial foolishness has prevailed at Charlie Hebdo."
“This is not in the slightest to condone the murderers, who must be caught and punished, or to suggest that freedom of expression should not extend to satirical portrayals of religion," he wrote. "It is merely to say that some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo, and Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.”
Three gunmen targeted the newspaper’s headquarters on Wednesday morning, killing 12, including 10 journalists. The attackers, who were filmed fleeing the scene, remain at large, though a manhunt is underway by French authorities. World leaders were quick to condemn the attack, while badges proclaiming "Je suis Charlie" were posted online and across social media.
In response to the opinion, piece, the Financial Times was inundated with comments, many of them highly critical of the editor.
One commenter wrote: "This article is appalling in its insensitivity to those who were killed and injured in today's horrific and totally unjustifiable attack," reads one comment. "Although the author states that he does not condone the murders, he is, by writing that the staff at the magazine lacked common-sense, insinuating that the victims brought this on themselves. Shocking and shameful."