Alleged gunmen that attacked staff at offices of Charlie Hebdo, Paris
(Le Monde, Elise Barthet, Twitter)
Word of an attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly satirical magazine in Paris came in a tweet which read, “the Prophet (Muhammad) has been avenged!”
At least 12 people were killed and 10 wounded when 3 gunmen, carrying kalashnikovs and a rocket-propelled grenade and dressed in black military-style clothing, one shouting Allahu Akbar (God is Great) approached the premises of the publication. Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Corinne “Coco” Rey told a French newspaper that two men forced him to enter a door code. He was told, “you say to the media that it was al Qaeda in Yemen”
Charlie Hebdo was controversial for its mocking of political and religious leaders which included the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in 2011 and most recently Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Islamic State, (parts of Iraq and Syria). The caricatures were viewed as offensive and blasphemous by many of France’s 5 million Muslims and the offices had been firebombed in the past.
An editorial meeting had been taking place when the attackers were said by witnesses to have called out victims’ surnames before executing members of staff. Those killed include cartoonists Charb, Wolinksi, Cabu and Tignous and also two policemen.
Cartoonists killed at offices of Charlie Hebdo ( Independent)
Footage appeared on social media showing one attacker outside the building appearing to fire at a wounded man on the ground who pleaded not to be shot. The attackers escaped in a black vehicle that was later found abandoned.
Policeman pleading for his life
Footage of gunman shooting wounded man
Tweeter Abu Hamza said, “the newspaper defended the cartoons, saying, “we do caricatures of everyone, we do it with the Prophet, it’s called provocation.” Hamza later tweeted the words, they declare: ‘we were only talking idly and joking.” [al-Tawbah 9:64 with the following image,
We were only joking (via Abu Hamza, Twitter)
Concerns were raised that the assailants might have had combat training abroad. Max Abrahms, terrorist theorist and Professor at North Eastern University, US, pointed out that “the attack comes as 1,000 French citizens have gone or planned to join jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria.” Pieter Nanninga, Assistant Professor Middle Eastern Studies, University of Groningen | (jihadism, media and violence) tweeted, “in March 2013 this group (al Qaeda, Yemen) published most-wanted list in Inspire magazine with Charlie Hebdo editor Charbonnier on it.”
Most wanted list (Inspire)
A video appeared on social media of the gunmen, one can be heard to shout “Allahu Akbar” (God is great).
Politicians rushed to condemn the attack with those responsible for the incineration and decapitation of children by drone around the globe such as British Prime Minister David Cameron attempting to take the moral high ground.
President Francois Hollande called the attack, “an act of indescribable barbarity” warning that, “measures have been taken to find those responsible, they will be hunted for as long as it takes to catch them and bring them to justice.”
Many were vocal in their defence of democracy and the right to freedom of speech for those at the offices of Charlie Hebdo however the same freedom of expression was not applied in France to wearing of the burqa.
In July 2014, the Guardian reported that,
“judges at the European court of human rights (ECHR) have upheld France’s burqa ban, accepting Paris’s argument that it encouraged citizens to “live together”.
The law introduced in 2010 makes it illegal for anyone to cover their face in a public place. While it also covers balaclavas and hoods, the ban has been criticised as targeting Muslim women.”
Back in 2010 cartoonist Latuff pointed out another hypocrisy regarding different communities with the following images,
John Kerry, US Secretary of State, declared that, “freedom of expression is not able to be killed by this kind of act of terror.” Double standards were evident once again however given America’s efforts to stifle peaceful voices of dissent and gag whistleblowers, making their lives a misery as can be seen in documentary from director James Spione entitled “Silenced”
Moazzam Begg former Guantanamo detainee tweeted the following inevitable follow -on from the Charlie Hebdo incident “condemn, grieve, avenge. Ideology, faith, ethnicity. Target, vilify, radicalise. More laws. Chain is greased, cycle begins.”
As night fell a series of vigils were taking place in France and other countries with “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) Twitter theme.
“Je suis Charlie” (Guardian)
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.