Imagine being a top journalist for a popular newsmagazine in the United States. You wake up early each morning and travel to work with a coffee in one hand and a pen in the other. You write all day about events that the public hasn’t even been exposed to yet; some stories funny, some sad, and some entirely shocking. The content of your articles are completely nonmalignant, but may be risqué due to the topic at hand.
Now, imagine waking up and going about your daily tasks when you decide to grab a popular newsmagazine at your local coffee shop. You flip through to see an article, picture, or cartoon that really captures your attention. This particular print is one that offends or makes fun of your religion. The leader that you devote your spiritual life to whether it be Buddha, Muhammad, or God. They have been defiled in public print. How would you react?
Eleven thirty am on Wednesday, January 7th, a deadly shooting took lives of twelve staff members of a popular French satirical weekly newsmagazine. The attack took place during a morning editorial meeting. Eight journalists and four cartoonists saw the last of their days, including the papers’ editor in chief, Stéphane Charbonnier. Two police officers, a building maintenance worker, and a guest of the board were added to the unfortunate fatalities of the morning. The attack was caused by an extreme cartoon belittling the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The gunmen were French native Muslims, all around the age of thirty-three. Two suspects the police are investigating are brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi. Saïd is known to have trained with al-Qaeda in Yemen, while Chérif had a previous conviction for terrorism in 2008. These brothers were said to have been accompanied on the attack by Hamyd Mourad, who has already turned himself in.
Charlie Hebdo was founded in 1970 and is French for “Charlie Weekly”. According to Charbonnier, the newsmagazine’s stance was left-wing, secular, anti-religious, which explains the amount of controversy the newsmagazine stirs up. This was not the first attack that the paper had experienced, but it was the deadliest. The building was firebombed back in 2011 for making fun of the Prophet Muhammad. This magazine mocks a range of controversial and sensitive topics such as: politicians, pop culture, and mainly, religion. This attack has raised many issues, such as the freedom of speech and religious tolerance due to the treatment and response of the Muslim community. The attack was tragic, and though what was published was not decent, no one deserved to die.