A French-born Muslim was threatened this week after displaying a “Je suis Charlie” sign outside his coffee shop in Brick Lane.
Adel Defilaux, 32, the owner of The Anti-Shop, opened his store as normal on Tuesday morning, before he was allegedly confronted by an angry man at his till.
He claims the stranger, described as Asian and in his thirties, twice demanded that he remove the sign from outside his shop, saying it was offensive to him and his community. The man said: “If you don’t remove your sign something is going to happen to you and your shop will be smashed”, according to Defilaux.
The coffee shop owner told Eastlondonlines: “I am not supporting the drawings from Charlie Hebdo. I am not saying that the sarcastic drawings are good – still freedom of expression and freedom of speech is important. [Charlie Hebdo staff] don’t deserve to be killed for that, even though we are Muslim.”
The disruptive man also allegedly questioned Defilaux’s faith, asking whether he was “French or Muslim”.
Defilaux claims he asked the man: “How can you compare nationality and religion? You can be Chinese and Muslim; you can be South African and Jewish.”
He said he told the stranger: “Islam is a religion of peace”, explaining how his Egyptian grandmother had raised him as a Muslim.
It was then that the man reportedly moved closer to Defilaux and began to threaten him. Following this he left the shop.
Police are now pursuing the man who Defilaux claims issued the abuse. The “Je suis Charlie” sign remains outside his shop
The latest edition of Charlie Hebdo will go on sale across the UK today. The front cover dons a controversial depiction of the Prophet Muhammed.
Many sales are expected in support of the journalists who lost their lives in the Paris terror attacks.
Defiliaux said he “understands why Muslims may be offended” by Charlie Hebdo’s satire, but he “believes in freedom of expression.”
He said: “If you get offended, go to the police and say ‘this is wrong’, but they are not committing a crime in my opinion”.
Defilaux has continued to open his shop as normal and says he still feels safe in the area.
Words by Tosin Oyeniyi
Following the alleged incident Eastlondonlines reporters took to the streets to find out local’s opinions on the incident and the controversial satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
Video by Morgan Liesenhoff and Fernanda Berlinck