— The Erimtan Angle —

On Wednesday, 7 January 2015, the offices of the satirical periodical Charlie Hebdo were attacked by gunmen, leaving 12 dead in its wake and many injured . . . No stranger to controversy, the Charlie Hebdo office was guarded by the police but to no avail. The ever diligent BBC (or Beeb) records the key points of the event: “Gunmen have attacked the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12 people including the editor and celebrated cartoonists . . . The hunt is on for three suspects, named by police as Hamyd Mourad and brothers Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi . . . It is the deadliest terror attack in France since 1961 during the Algerian war . . . President Hollande said it was an act of ‘extreme barbarity’, with many foreign leaders also condemning the attack . . . In 2011, the satirical publication was firebombed after naming the Prophet Muhammad as its ‘editor-in-chief'”.[1]

The pan-European news channel Euronews reports that ‘ thousands gathered on the Place de la Republic in central Paris on Wednesday [7 January] night [whileh]olding pencils in the air as the weapon of choice for journalists and chanting “Liberty!” . . . It was an act of defiance against the shooting dead of 12 people at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by masked gunmen. With emotions raw, many taking part in the rally had personal reasons for being there: “I went and bought today’s paper and I’m very emotional . . . this is the last drawing by cartoonist Cabu . . . his is hard I can tell you,” said one man with the name ‘Cabu’ written on his brow in respect for the celebrated cartoonist who was one of those who died in the attack. “I came with my son,” said one woman,” I came with friends too because just tonight it was not possible to stay in front of my television and listen to all this sad news. I grew up with Charlie Hebdo. I learned to draw with Cabu and I am very sad tonight and I am very sad for the families and for my country.” A young man directed his comments at the three men who carried out the attack: “A prophet with a bomb on his head, this has not always been pleasant to see – especially when you do not have radical ideas. But as I have the right not to like these cartoons, Charlie Hebdo has the right to publish them because we are in democracy. And if you do not like this, you cannot live in a democracy. And today there are many people who came and many Muslims who came to tell these guys, these terrorists who did that, that they are fighting for Saran (the devil) and not for Allah”. In cities throughout France the same scene was being acted out. With the slogan ‘Je suis Charlie’, rallies in support of freedom of expression turned into spontaneous vigils for the victims and their families’.[2]

From Paris, the New York Times reports that the “police organized an enormous manhunt across the Paris region on Wednesday [, 7 January] for three suspects they said were involved in a brazen and methodical midday slaughter at a satirical newspaper that had lampooned Islam. The terrorist attack by masked gunmen on the newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, left 12 people dead — including the top editor, prominent cartoonists and police officers — and was among the deadliest in postwar France. The killers escaped, traumatizing the city and sending shock waves through Europe and beyond. Officials said late Wednesday that two of the suspects were brothers. They were identified as Said and Chérif Kouachi, 34 and 32. The third suspect is Hamyd Mourad, 18. News reports said the brothers, known to intelligence services, had been born in Paris, raising the prospect that homegrown Muslim extremists were responsible. Early Thursday [, 8 Januart], a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor said that Mr. Mourad had walked into a police station in Charleville-Mézières, about 145 miles northeast of Paris, and surrendered”.[iii]  Dan Bilefsky and Maïa de la Baumejan continue their NYT piece as follows: the “assault threatened to deepen the distrust of France’s large Muslim population, coming at a time when Islamic radicalism has become a central concern of security officials throughout Europe. In the space of a few minutes, the assault also crystallized the culture clash between religious extremism and the West’s devotion to free expression. Spontaneous rallies expressing support for Charlie Hebdo sprung up later in the day in Paris, throughout Europe and in Union Square in New York. Officials and witnesses said at least two gunmen had carried out the attack with assault weapons and military-style precision. President François Hollande of France called it a display of extraordinary ‘barbarism’ that was ‘without a doubt’ an act of terrorism. He declared Thursday a national day of mourning. He also raised the nationwide terror alert to its highest level, saying several terrorist attacks had been thwarted in recent weeks as security officials here and elsewhere in Europe have grown increasingly wary of the return of young citizens from fighting in Syria and Iraq”.[4]

Whereas, Doreen Carjaval and Suzanne Daleyjan explain that “[w]eek after week, the small, struggling paper amused and horrified, taking pride in offending one and all and carrying on a venerable European tradition dating to the days of the French Revolution, when satire was used to pillory Marie Antoinette, and later to challenge politicians, the police, bankers and religions of all kinds. This week’s issue was no exception. It featured a mock debate about whether Jesus exists and a black-and-white New Year’s greeting card from the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, with the caption, ‘To your health’. No subject was off limits. The paper offered pages of colorful cartoons depicting France’s top politicians and intellectuals as wine-swilling slackers indulging in sexual acts, or suggesting the pope was stepping aside to be with his girlfriend”.[5]

Carjaval and Daleyjan continue that it “is a brand of humor the French and other Europeans are attached to, but it has prompted fury among both Muslim extremists and less radical Muslims who see the denigration of their religion as provocation, not food for thought. ‘The French like their satire’, said Jean-Marie Charon, a sociologist who studies the news media. ‘The idea is to be irreverent, that irony and criticism are good things. But it is true that this is perhaps not part of everybody’s culture’. In recent years, the editors and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo had weathered a firebombing, computer hacking and death threats. Mr. Charbonnier was included on a list published by Al Qaeda’s magazine, Inspire, of those ‘most wanted’ for crimes against Islam. But Charlie Hebdo’s staff continued to take on Islam with the same irreverence as it did other religions, a stand that gave it stature among French journalists”.[6]

[1] “As it happened: Charlie Hebdo attack This page automatically updates” BBC News (07 Jan 2015). http://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-europe-30710777.

[2] “Tens of thousands hold a vigil for the victims of the Paris terror attack” euronews (07 Jan 2015). http://www.euronews.com/2015/01/07/tens-of-thousands-hold-a-vigil-for-the-victims-of-the-paris-terror-attack/.

[3] Dan Bilefsky and Maïa de la Baumejan, “One Suspect Surrenders in Attack on French Newspaper; Two Others at Large” The New York Times (07 Jan 2015). http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/world/europe/charlie-hebdo-paris-shooting.html?emc=edit_th_20150108&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68990308&_r=0.

[4] Dan Bilefsky and Maïa de la Baumejan, “One Suspect Surrenders in Attack on French Newspaper; Two Others at Large”. The New York Times (07 Jan 2015). http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/world/europe/charlie-hebdo-broke-taboos-defying-threats-and-violence.html?emc=edit_th_20150108&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68990308.

[5] Doreen Carjaval and Suzanne Daleyjan, “Proud to Offend, Charlie Hebdo Carries Torch of Political Provocation” The New York Times (07 Jan 2015). http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/world/europe/charlie-hebdo-broke-taboos-defying-threats-and-violence.html?emc=edit_th_20150108&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68990308.

[6] Doreen Carjaval and Suzanne Daleyjan, “Proud to Offend, Charlie Hebdo Carries Torch of Political Provocation”.


Comments on: "The Charlie Hebdo Attack 2015" (1)

  1. All religions are extreme: extreme nonsense that is. They all support the dangerous lie that (allegedly) supernatural texts are a legitimate guide to our activities and so encourage terrorists.

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