Disrespect of Muhammad prompts attack

By Grace King, Layout Editor

“Je suis Charlie,” the sign reads, held by a cartoon drawing of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, with a tear falling from his frowning face under the headline “All is forgiven.”

After political terrorists targeted the editor and cartoonists of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an apparent terrorist attack, the magazine printed this cover as a way to say, “If you attack the magazine, you attack the people,” according to The Washington Post.

On Jan. 7, two gunmen came into the offices of Charlie Hebdo during an editorial meeting, killing 12 people. Witnesses said they heard the gunmen shouting in Arabic “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “God is great,” according to BBC.

Former editor of Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier, had been under police protection after receiving death threats, according to the BBC.

In the two days following the attack, a French police officer was shot and killed and four hostages were killed in a Jewish grocery store. There are three suspects for the massacres, all linked, according to CNN.

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama said, “…we stand united around the world with those who have been targeted by terrorists… We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we deserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.”

In the aftermath of the Paris attack, French officials reported that millions of citizens from over 30 countries marched in the streets of France as an act of defiance, while chanting and holding signs reading “Je suis Charlie,” CBS News reported.

Demonstrators see the massacre as a “direct attack on freedom of speech” after Charlie Hebdo mocked Islam by originally printing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in 2011.

DeWayne Wickham, reporter for USA Today, wrote that Charlie Hebdo has gone too far.

“Charlie Hebdo’s latest depiction of the Prophet Muhammad – a repeat of the very action that is thought to have sparked the murderous attack on its office – predictably has given rise to widespread violence in nations with large Muslim populations,” Wickham wrote. “Its irreverence of Muhammad once moved the French tabloid to portray him naked in a pornographic pose. In another caricature, it showed Muhammad being beheaded by a member of the Islamic State.”

Editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, Gerard Biard, said to CNN, “Every time that we draw a cartoon of Muhammad, every time we draw a cartoon of a prophet, every time we draw a cartoon of god, we defend the freedom of religion, we declare that god must not be political or public figure. He must be a private figure.”

According to BBC, the tradition of Charlie Hebdo to print provocative cartons and mock the Prophet Muhammad is “entirely consistent with its historic raison d’etre.”

Pope Francis said there are limits to freedom of speech, however, AP reported. The Vatican and four prominent French imams released a statement denouncing the Paris attacks, while at the same time urging the media to treat religions with respect, according to AP.

Protests in the Iranian capital Jan. 19 took place outside the French Embassy. Protestors shouted “Down with Zionist France,” according to AP. Although Iran criticizes the pictures of Muhammad, they condemn the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Protestors are also gathering in other parts of the world over the depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. Ten people were killed in Niger in church and house fires set by protestors. In Pakistan, a photographer was shot and wounded during a violent protest that broke out after Muslim religious parties called on supporters to condemn the cartoon, according to CNN. Peaceful protests have been reported in Mali and Somalia and parts of the Middle East.

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