by Elisabeth Soubry
On the morning of January 7th, 2015, the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo suffered a direct attack on its Paris office. Breaths held, the nation waited in terror for two days. On January 9th, a double assault was launched by elite GIGN gendarmes from Dammartin and elite police from RAID and BIS in Paris to take down the three men responsible for the attacks. This undertaking was not without victims as hostage situations arose (Le Parisien).
Within the week, the slogan behind which the world would rally online, “JE SUIS CHARLIE”, was born. The following week, more than 6% of the French population (The Globe and Mail) came to the streets to commemorate the victims and remind the world of the importance of the right of expression.
Indeed, this event brought forth many conflicts regarding the limits of the right of expression, as it seems to have stemmed from a want for revenge for the topics discussed by the newspaper in previous issues. In the days following, Anti-Charlie manifestations in Niger brought more violence to the already grim picture.
Nonetheless, CharlieHebdo refuses to let this slow down their work, saying that “Yes, we need satire because satire, ironically, often captures the truth far better than straight journalism can” (AskMen).
More conflict rose against the Charlie Hebdo issue published January 14th, 2015, which sported a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad. Muslim communities took offense to the representation of the prophet, which is forbidden in their religion (The Telegraph).
In conclusion, the situation has provoked several debates on what satire and freedom of speech truly are.