Charlie Hebdo’s Rally in Adversity

Charlie Hebdo


Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly magazine, lost eight of its staff including the editor in a terror attack, on January 7, but with international support, the magazine is back on the streets with sales in excess of five millions within two days

By Olu Ojewale  |  Jan. 26, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT  |

CHARLIE Hebdo, a satirical magazine in France, was perhaps, not out to offend. But it certainly provoked some persons into taking arms against it. Said and Cherif Kouachi, two Islamic brothers who felt incensed by the way the magazine depicted Prophet Mohammed, spiritual leader of Islamic faith, busted into the office of Charlie Hebdo, while editorial meeting was in progress and killed 12 persons, five other persons also died in the incident while 11 people were wounded.

As the nation continues to mourn, Charlie Hebdo caused another stir with its current edition, which sent millions of people to newsstands for copies. Within two days the magazine, now published in six languages, sold more than five million copies of the satirical magazine targeted by terrorists.

The cover of the current edition features a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed crying as he holds a sign saying: “Je suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie,” beneath the headline: “All is forgiven.”

Some persons have criticised the magazine’s radical behaviour because of its depiction of Mohammed, saying it would offend a lot of Muslims.

Indeed, the government of Jordan was among the first to condemn the magazine. On Thursday, January 15, it said that continuing to publish “offensive drawings” of Mohammed would “hurt the feelings of the Muslim communities everywhere.”

Describing the attitude as irresponsible, it said the act “does not represent the freedom of expression, which is based on the foundation of the responsibility and the respect of religions,” the Jordanian government statement added.

Pope Francis seems to be in support. While agreeing that the freedom of expression is a right, he, however, said that there should be limits when it comes to insulting other people’s faiths. Speaking on Thursday, January 15, on a flight from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to the Philippines, he said: “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.” Likewise, he said, people have religious liberty, but “one can’t kill in the name of God.” The Pope made the remark when a reporter asked him about religious liberty and freedom of expression.


Also on Thursday, Pakistan’s National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution condemning the publication of a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed by Charlie Hebdo. The resolution also called on the European Union, the United Nations community and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to take steps to prevent the publishing of such material, according to the report. Many other predominantly Muslim countries have similarly spoken out against Charlie Hebdo for its latest publication.

Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, prime minister, said: “that freedom of speech should not be used to hurt the religious sentiments of any community” and that the world should discourage the “publication of provocative material.”

That notwithstanding, global security agencies seem unwilling to give up its investigation into the matter. On Friday, January 16, reports said about 12 persons were arrested in France and Germany in relation to the case.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility Wednesday for the Charlie Hebdo shooting. According to Nasr Ibn Ali al-Ansi, commander of the AQAP, the attack was years in the making. Speaking in a video, al-Ansi claimed Anwar al-Awlaki, the United States born-terrorist, was the mastermind behind it. Al-Awlaki was the terror group’s spokesman before a US drone strike killed him in Yemen in 2011.

On January 7, at about 11:30 am, two masked gunmen forced their way into the offices of the Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine in Paris, killing 12 persons, including Stephane “Charb” Cahrbonnier, editor. Also killed were seven other employees of the magazine and two policemen, while 11 others were wounded. Charlie Hebdo attracted attention for its controversial depictions of Muhammed.

Many arrests were made following the violence as France raised its terror alert to the highest. On January 11, about two million people, including more than 40 world leaders, met in Paris, for a rally of national unity to honour the 12 victims, along with five other victims who died in related shootings. In all, 3.7 million people joined demonstrations across France, in what officials called the largest public rally in France since World War II. The phrase Je suis Charlie (French for “I am Charlie”) was a common slogan against the attacks.

In defiance, the remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo have continued normal weekly publication of the magazine. In contrast to its usual French only 60,000 copies, the current edition is published in six languages and has sold more than five million copies.

When the current edition of the magazine sold out in hours, President Francois Hollande of France insisted Charlie Hebdo and its values would survive. “Charlie Hebdo is alive and will live on,” Hollande said.


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