"I prefer to die standing up than live kneeling." -- Stefane Charbonnier, Editor, Charlie Hedbo
Photo: #JesSuisCharlie on Twitter
By Miriam Raftery
January 7, 2015 (Paris)--Crowds around the world are standing up and journalists are speaking out to show solidarity with journalists slain at a French satirical magazine in Paris on Wednesday by Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. The dead include the publication’s editor, other journalists including prominent cartoonists, and two police officers.
Gunman attacked the editorial room at Charlie Hebdo, the French publication known for its cartoons lampooning political and religious leaders. Witnesses told authorities that the attackers claimed to be with a Yemeni branch of al Qaeda; one assailant reportedly claimed the killings were meant to avenge the “Prophet Mohammed.”
Recently Charlie Hebdo had published cartoons of Mohammed, an action that enraged some Muslims who consider it blasphemy to publish any image of Muhammed. The magazine’s last tweet featured a cartoon ridiculing the leader of the Islamic State or ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The magazine offices were firebombed back in 2011 for its earlier cartoon depiction of Mohammed. The editor Stefane Charbonnier refused to be silenced, stating, “I prefer to die standing up than live kneeling."
Word spread quickly on social media. On Twitter, 4,000 tweets an hour were sent with the hashtag “Jes Suis Charlie” or I am Charlie. Photos showed crowds in cities around the world standing up for the free speech rights of the murdered cartoonists.
Some publications opted to publish the inflammatory cartoons from Charlie Hebdo’s murdered cartoonists. Other living cartoonists published cartoons of their own to show solidarity. One showed a plan flying toward the twin towers in New York, with the towers replaced by a pair of pencils.
In the U.S., the Society of Professional Journalists issued a statement on its webpage denouncing the attack as a “barbaric, appalling attempt to stifle press freedom” adding, “Such outrageous attempts to silence journalists will not be tolerated or successful.” SPJ urged media organizations and journalists to stand in solidarity against the attack on press freedoms.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 61 journalists have been killed worldwide in 2014 alone. Jean-Paul Marthoz, CPJ’s European representative, writes that “Charlie Hebdo, which was so often on the edges of politics and unnerving the establishment, is today the symbol of the core values of French democracy.”