At least two masked gunmen stormed the Paris offices of satirical [French language] weekly Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, killing twelve people and injuring eleven more before escaping in a car. It was France’s deadliest terrorist attack in decades.
Some of France’s most prominent cartoonists were among the dead, including the magazine’s director Stéphane Charbonnier, known as “Charb”. Seven other journalists were killed along with two police officers, a guest at the Charlie Hebdo offices and the building’s receptionist.
The gunmen reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) during their deadly rampage. Charlie Hebdo had been a target of Islamist extremists ever since it published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, Islam’s holiest figure, in 2006. Its previous headquarters were firebombed in 2011.
Charlie Hebdo has long had a reputation of taking aim at sacred cows. In many respects, it is similar to The Onion, which went online-only over a year ago. It is a beacon of progressive thought in France.
Its staff were (and still are) practitioners of free expression. They didn’t just believe in the idea of free speech and a free press; they lived it. And for that, they were targeted by fanatical, radicalized fundamentalists who believe parodies of the founder of their religion merit death at the barrel of a gun.
We at NPI join with the readers of Charlie Hebdo today in offering our deepest condolences to the staff of those killed, and the police officers who lost their lives in the line of fire trying to protect them. And we pray for the healing and the recovery of the nearly dozen more people who were wounded.
Whenever freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of expression come under attack, they must be defended. Perhaps Franklin Roosevelt said it best: Ultimately, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Now is the time for the people of France to show steely resolve, not panic.
The French police have launched a manhunt for the attackers who got away. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told the press that “all the resources of the justice system and Interior Ministry have been mustered… [The terrorists] will be punished with the severity that the brutality of their acts deserve.”
We wish them every success and we know the good people of Paris and France will lend a willing hand in assisting the authorities catch these violent extremists.
Appropriately, political cartoonists around the world have begun responding, using their arts to show their solidarity with the victims of the attack.
Je suis Charlie (I am Charlie) has become a rallying cry across continents.
President Barack Obama issued a statement earlier today in response to the attacks on behalf of the people of the United States of America.
“I strongly condemn the horrific shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris that has reportedly killed twelve people,” the President said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrorist attack and the people of France at this difficult time. France is America’s oldest ally, and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the fight against terrorists who threaten our shared security and the world. Time and again, the French people have stood up for the universal values that generations of our people have defended.”
“France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers. We are in touch with French officials and I have directed my Administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice.”