A Brief History:
Charlie Hebdo, French for Weekly Charlie, is satirical weekly newspaper based in Paris, France. The newspaper is featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes. It first appeared in 1970 as a successor to the “Hara Kiri” magazine, which was banned for mocking the death of former French President Charles de Gaulle.
The content featured in "CH” is mainly concerned with the subjects of extreme right, religion, politics, culture, etc. The former editor, late Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, stated that the magazine's editorial viewpoint reflects "all components of left wing pluralism, and even abstainers".
Charlie Hebdo has attracted worldwide attention for its regular depictions of Muhammad, the founder of Islam and has been the targeted by the terrorists two times since then. One was in 2011 and the other in 2015.
The 2015 Attack:
In the latter of these attacks on 7 January 2015, around 11:30 CET, two masked gunmen forced their way into the building where the offices of “CH” are located. They were armed with AK-47 assault rifles, a shotgun and an RPG grenade launcher. What was about to happen would shock the world.
They fired up to 50 shots with automatic weapons, shouting “Allahu Akbar” and killed 12 people. The fatalities included the editor Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier, seven other Charlie Hebdo employees, and two National Police officers. They also wounded eleven others before escaping by car.
The attackers were identified by the police as the brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi. At around 9:30 a.m., the Kouachi brothers fled into the office of Création Tendance Découverte, a signage production company on an industrial estate in Dammartin-en-Goële.
The Kouachi brothers remained inside and the siege of the building lasted eight to nine hours. Around 5:00 p.m. the police arrived at the rooftop, but before they could reach them, the Kouachi brothers ran outside and confronted the police in an attempt to escape but they were both gunned down.
Police detained several people during the manhunt for the two main suspects. A third suspect gave himself up. Another gunman took hostages at a kosher supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes. He managed to kill four people before the police forces gunned him down. The fifth suspect for this monstrous attack is still on the run.
A total of 17 people were killed at four different locations between 7th and 9th January, including the three suspects. Another 21 people were injured and a number of them are in a critical condition. The attacks are defined as the deadliest act of terrorism in France since the 1961 Vitry-Le-François train bombing by the “Organisation de l'Armée Secrete” or the OAS.
The remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo announced that publication would continue, with plans for a print run of 1 million copies for the next week's issue, rather than its typical 60,000.
The extent of the damage done by the 2015 attack yet remains to be seen. What social changes may occur and what impact will these terrible events have on the society in France? Will there be retribution on the Muslim community? Will this attack serve as a tool in an anti-Muslim campaign around the world? To what lengths will the authorities go to protect the freedom of speech and what are the plans for the prevention of tragedies such as this one?
I believe that the answer to these questions and many others will be given to the public by the authorities in the near future. The freedom of speech and belief are very important and we have the right to defend these freedoms. The problem, however, is the radical measures taken by individuals or organized groups in order to protect their beliefs. There are other means of achieving certain goals without resorting to violence.
Our thoughts are with the family members of the victims of this terrible attack.