Terrorists have gunned down 12 people in Paris, has attracted international outrage and condemnation as cowardly and an act of barbarity.
French President Francois Hollande called it a “cowardly murder” and declared Thursday, a day of national mourning.
He said the country’s tradition of free speech, the “spirit of the republic,” had been attacked and called on all French people to stand together. “Our best weapon is our unity,” he said.
The cold-blooded murder attracted mass protests in France and in many parts of Europe with hundreds and thousands of people expressing solidarity with the Newspaper by raising placards reading; “Je Suis Charlie” or “I am Charlie”
An estimated 100,000 gathered outside the paper’s offices after the murders, the deadliest the country has seen since 1961 when terrorists killed 28 people in a train during the France-Algerian war.
Two heavily armed attackers, apparently knew the magazine’s staff would be gathered around a table on Wednesday morning for a weekly editorial meeting, when they forced their way into Charlie Hebdo’s office and shot 10 people dead.
Eight were senior journalists for the paper. Two were guests and Two were policemen who had been charged with protecting the editor after he raised alarm over his life. At least 11 other victims were wounded.
The two gunmen and their accomplice, identified by French police as coming from the city of Reims – 140kms from Paris, fled the area in a waiting car, and remain at large.
The police described two of the suspects as brothers who were convicted in 2008 for belonging to a militant group that sent fighters to Iraq.
The magazine’s editors relished in hard—hitting journalism through caricaturing their subjects.
The magazine’s editorial director, Stéphane Charbonnier, who was killed in the attack, had scoffed at any suggestion the magazine should tone down its trademark satire to appease anyone. For him, free expression was nothing without the right to offend.
In 2006, Charlie Hebdo reprinted controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that originally appeared in a Danish newspaper.
But Charlie Hebdo not only offended Muslims by carricuturing Mohammed, but it also provoked Jews and Christians — not to mention politicians of all walks.
In 2011, the magazine’s offices were firebombed the day after it published a special issue guest-edited, it said, by Muhammad called “Charia Hebdo.”
President Hollande appealed for national unity as France descended into mourning. His predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, asked the French to avoid ‘ lumping together’ terrorists with Muslims, and urged them to unite against terrorism. Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Grand Mosque in Paris, expressed his community’s anguish over Wednesday’s shocking attack. He did not mince words: “This is a deafening declaration of war,” he said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry described the fallen journalists as ‘Martyrs of Liberty’.