Turmoil in France

“Charlie Hebdo” is not a person. “Charlie Hebdo” is a French satirical weekly magazine, which uses cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes as medium for their satire. The magazine is notorious for publishing questionable content. Particularly, the magazine has often published articles not only depicting the Islamic prophet, Mohammed (which is forbidden in Islam), sometimes nude, but also profaning and slandering Muslims around the world.

On Jan. 7, 2015, two armed men entered the Paris headquarters of “Charlie Hebdo” and opened fire. Twelve people were killed in the gunfire (including two police officers who were shot while they escaped), and eleven were wounded. The attackers were identified as Chérif and Said Kouachi and were later connected to Al Qaeda cells in Yemen in light of information from French intelligence agencies and a video released by Al Qaeda claiming responsibility for the attacks.

This was not the first time “Charlie Hebdo” has had encounters with Islamic reactions to their publications. In 2011, the newspaper’s office located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris was firebombed and their website hacked, presumably in response to their publication satirically retitled “Charia Hebdo” (in reference to Sharia Law). Additionally, in 2007 the Grand Mosque of Paris filed a lawsuit against Philipe Val, editor-in-chief of “Charlie Hebdo,” for allegedly publicly slandering Muslims for being Muslim. Val was acquitted.

Within two days of the 2015 attack, there were 15 reported anti-Muslim attacks. Max Fisher of Vox reports, “the country’s Muslim community, despite universally and repeatedly condemning the [2015 attack on “Charlie Hebdo”], has come under a wave of misguided ‘reprisal’ attacks.” While free speech supporters and the like were hashtagging #JeSuisCharlie, three training grenades were thrown and bullet rounds were fired at a mosque in Le Man, an Islam-affiliated restaurant adjacent to a mosque in Villefranche-sur-Saone was bombed, and gunshots were fired at a mosque an hour after prayers in Port-la-Nouvelle, among other attacks.

It was initially speculated that the hostage situation in Paris was also connected with the “Charlie Hebdo” attack, but French police do not believe the gunman to be connected with it. The hostage situation ended on Friday (Jan. 16) peacefully, with the gunman surrendering to police.

Reports from French news sources indicate that people have begun to be detained by French police on the vague charge of “defending terrorism (‘l’apologie du terroisme’),” often for sharing critical thoughts of “Charlie Hebdo”’s material. Amnesty International did a press release in which they stated that nearly 70 arrests were made in the week following the attacks. The charges are being made against people that are sharing critical satirical material regarding “Charlie Hebdo.” None of the arrests have been connected to Al Qaeda.

Sources: Tellmamauk.org, Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, The Times, Vox.com, The New York Times

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