Widespread revulsion at Charlie Hebdo killings

POLITICIANS, journalists, religious figures and human rights activists all condemned yesterday’s attacks.
People hold up placards reading in French, "I am Charlie" during a gathering in Nice. Picture: GettyPeople hold up placards reading in French, "I am Charlie" during a gathering in Nice. Picture: Getty
People hold up placards reading in French, "I am Charlie" during a gathering in Nice. Picture: Getty

Author Salman Rushdie –whose novel The Satanic Verses drew protests from Muslims and sparked a flurry of death threats – and Ian Hislop, editor of British satirical publication Private Eye, were among those to express their shock.

Mr Rushdie said religious totalitarianism had “caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam which we see in Paris today”.

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He added: “I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. Respect for religion has become a code phrase meaning fear of religion. Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”

Mr Hislop said: “I am appalled and shocked by this horrific attack – a murderous attack on free speech in the heart of Europe.

“I offer my condolences to the families and friends of those killed – the cartoonists, journalists and those who were trying to protect them. They paid a very high price for exercising their comic liberty. Very little seems funny today.”

Politicians also paid tribute to the victims. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “My thoughts are with the people of France, with whom we in Scotland share so many close ties.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, who was meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said he stood defiant against the terrorists. “We stand absolutely united with the French people against terrorism and against this threat to our values – free speech, the rule of law, democracy,” said Mr Cameron. “It’s absolutely essential we defend those values today and every day.”

The Queen sent her “sincere condolences” to the families of those killed.

In the brief message sent to French president Francois Hollande, the Queen said: “Prince Philip and I send our sincere condolences to the families of those who have been killed and to those who have been injured in the attack in Paris this morning. We send our thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected.”

Mr Hollande said the country was in a “state of shock”.

“This is an act of exceptional barbarism,” said Mr Hollande. “We are at a very difficult moment. Several terrorist attacks have been impeded during the previous weeks. We are threatened because we are a country of freedom.”

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President Barack Obama offered his support to the French authorities.

“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.”

Stephan Oberreit, director of Amnesty International France, said the tragedy was “a dark day for freedom of expression and a vibrant press culture”.

Others warned that the incident could have a long-lasting impact on freedom of the press.

Charlie Hebdo editor-in-chief Gerard Biard, who was not injured in the attacks, told French radio: “I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons.

“A newspaper is not a weapon of war.”

The Union des Organisations Islamiques de France, which represents more than 250 Muslim organisations across France, condemned the killings “in the strongest possible terms”.

Support swells on social media as users declare: ‘Je suis Charlie’

Social media users showed their support for satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo following yesterday’s bloody attack.

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Within minutes, #CharlieHebdo was the top trending hashtag on Twitter as people around the world shared their horror at the events in Paris.

A second hashtag, #JeSuisCharlie, French for “I am Charlie”, also trended as people rallied in support of those killed and injured in the attack. Users also posted images on social networks showing the phrase in large letters.

A Twitter campaign pledging support to the victims and the French magazine had already gained traction within moments of the first #JeSuisCharlie hashtag being posted.

Many tweeted the famous misquotation of French philosopher Voltaire: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

One user, Linda Victoria Lundberg, from Malmo in Sweden, wrote: “Many of us around Europe are shaken. What happened today is terrible. It is an attack against all of Europe, our right to free speech and free thought.

“Condolences for the victims and their families.”

The US embassy in France changed its official Twitter profile @USEmbassyFrance, to show the Je Suis Charlie logo.