You most likely have heard of the terrible massacre in Paris today at the head quarters of the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. The image, Je Suis Charlie is being tweeted along with the hashtag #jesuischarlie to show support for the paper.
First, the facts about the attack as they are currently known. Witnesses report that two black-hooded men, armed with Kalashnikovs entered the building and gunned down 20 people (some critically), killing 12 of them (these numbers could change as more about the incident becomes clear). According to police and reported by the Globe & Mail, the men shouted,“We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed.” Also according to the Globe & Mail:
A short amateur video broadcast by French television stations shows two hooded men outside the building. One of them sees a wounded policeman lying on the ground and strides over to him to shoot him dead at point-blank range. The two then walk over to a black saloon car and drive off.
The men later switched from their get-away-car to a stolen vehicle and fled into the suburbs of east Paris where they remain at large. The French broadcaster, iTele is showing live footage as the story unfolds.
You can guess, by the reported triumphal shouts of the murderers, what prompted this vicious killing – Charlie Hebdo is a left wing newspaper that enjoys mocking anyone it wants; no one is safe from its satire including religious figures, politicians and even jihadists and the Prophet Mohammed – it published cartoons of Mohammed in the past which resulted in a lawsuit (which the newspaper won) and the firebombing of their building. Still, the paper continued and in its steadfast irreverence stood up for what France and other democracies hold dear – freedom of speech and freedom of expression. And that is why it was attacked today. The newspaper’s current cover introduces a novel titled, Submission which imagines France if it were run by an Islamic party (see below). The cartoon is of the book’s author making predictions for the future by saying, “In 2015, I lose my teeth. In 2022, I observe Ramadan.”
The paper also tweeted a mock New Year greeting from Abu Bakr al-Baghadadi (see tweet below). Note the “and especially to health!”
If it weren’t clear before, it should be clear now – Islamists do not have a sense of humour about these things and they are determined to intimidate everyone into silent submission. It is time politicians stopped catering to the repressiveness of people who threaten the ideals of free countries. I am very interested in what French President François Hollande will say about this in his address to the nation as he won the election in 2012 mostly because Sarkozy alienated Muslim voters – you could say that Hollande owes his presidency to France’s Muslim population. But Hollande is openly atheist and embraces laïcité, French secularity based on the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State. Will he be the first politician to condemn the dark side of Islam as thwarting French values without isolating Muslims? I hope so. France was a leader in modern democracy and I hope it leads the way again.
Many leaders and organizations are supporting France, including Prime Minister Harper, who tweeted, I’m horrified by the barbaric attacks in France. Even President Putin, whose relationship with France is shaky, condemned the cynical crime and reiterated Russia’s readiness to continue active cooperation in combatting the threat of terrorism.
CFI also condemns the two gunmen and their motivation for killing at least 12 people and wounding at least 10 others at the Paris office of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo.