Financial Times criticised for calling Charlie Hebdo 'stupid'

People light candles during a gathering in Strasbourg, France, on January 7, 2015, following an attack by unknown gunmen on the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo (AFP Photo/Patrick Hertzog) (AFP)

London (AFP) - The Financial Times faced a backlash on Wednesday after publishing an opinion piece by its European editor that called French magazine Charlie Hebdo, centre of a deadly terror attack, "stupid" and "foolish" over its criticism of Islam.

In an article that appeared online, Tony Barber condemned the murder of 12 people during the attack, but accused the satirical magazine of "editorial foolishness" and said that it had "just been stupid" to provoke Muslims with controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

The FT has since removed the two phrases from the online piece, due to appear in Thursday's print edition, "as part of the editing process", according to spokeswoman Darcy Keller.

However, the piece is still critical of the magazine, saying: "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."

Charlie Hebdo gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, causing fury across the Muslim world.

The FT's official editorial piece is unambiguously critical of the assailants, calling it "a murderous attack on freedom of expression," adding that "the right of Charlie Hebdo to lampoon religion should not be in doubt".

But FT readers commenting on the piece and Twitter users were quick to condemn.

One FT commenter said the piece was "probably the most contemptible, insensitive, callous and insidious piece of journalism that I have ever had the misfortune of reading" while another called the author "a DISGRACE to freedom in every sense of the word."

On Twitter, microbloggers called for Barber to be sacked for his "disgraceful article."

FT columnist John Gapper defended his paper, saying that he was "baffled by the number of journalists who don't seem to understand the difference between an opinion piece by one writer, and an editorial."

During Wednesday's attack, at least two armed men shouting "Allahu akbar" stormed the Paris headquarters of the satirical weekly, killing 12 people and sparking a massive manhunt as the killers remained on the loose.