On Wednesday morning, two masked men armed with kalashnikovs stormed the Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and wounding countless others.
The attack is believed to be a revenge killing for the magazines decision to publish a satirical cartoon mocking the Holy Prophet Mohammed. It is said that the attackers were heard shouting ‘the prophet has been avenged’ whilst fleeing the scene. Police chased the attackers, resulting in footage appearing online of one of the terrorists executing an officer on the side of the road. The attackers escaped, and are still on the loose. There is currently a major manhunt underway in search of them.
The international community has come together to condemn the attackers, and within hours it became a trending topic worldwide. Vigils are being held across the world; including Trafalgar Square in London, at 6pm. World leaders including David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, Barack Obama, President of the United States, and Vladamir Putin, President of Russia have all appeared in public addresses, offering their support to France at this difficult time.
The attack is speculated to have been orchestrated by the Islamic State, however this has not yet been confirmed. The editor of ‘Charlie Hebdo’ has been on Al Quaeda‘s target list for a long time. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.
Not only is this an atrocious act of terrorism, it’s also an attack on free speech and freedom of the press. As a trainee journalist myself, this hits close to home. My heart goes out to the victims of this horrible attack.
Millions of people lost their lives in the two world wars to protect our right to freedom of speech. Their sacrifice was not in vain. It will not be silenced by these barbaric acts.
— Victor d’Allant (@dallant) January 7, 2015
Many are calling this attack ‘Journalism’s 9/11’ due to the global significance of what has happened. In the above tweet, a Dutch cartoonist portrays how he sees it.
Furthermore, I worry that many will see this as an opportunity to legitimise Islamophobia. I fear that it will increase tensions in areas across the globe. You only have to look through the comments on news websites, hashtags and blog posts to see that this is already happening. As of writing #KillAllMuslims is currently a trending hashtag on Twitter. Many are condemning Islam, branding all Muslims as terrorists. This is not a new thing. Anti-Muslim hate crimes increased tremendously on the campuses of universities and colleges across America since 9/11. Extremist ideology is to blame, not Islam as a religion. Many leading Muslim figures from around the world have tweeted supporting France and condemning the actions of the attackers:
Dear”Muslims must speak up against terrorism” crowd: -we do. Constantly & loudly. You don’t listen. -fyi, most terrorism victims are Muslim.
— Mohamed El Dahshan (@eldahshan) January 7, 2015
The East London Mosque would like to offer its sincere condolences to the families of those killed during the #CharlieHebdo attacks (1/2)
— East London Mosque (@elondonmosque) January 7, 2015
Terror struck twice today, not just once. 38 dead in attack in Yemen. They’re killing us in the name of our own religion. — Iyad El-Baghdadi (@iyad_elbaghdadi) January 7, 2015
Today marks a very sad day indeed. Journalists lost their lives in the battle for freedom of the press. It constitutes our fundamental rights as humans. My thoughts are with the families of the fallen, Charlie Hebdo, and journalists across the world. I can only hope, like everyone else, that the attackers are caught and brought to justice.