At least 35,000 people in Paris and more than 100,000 across France spontaneously took to the streets on Wednesday evening to express their solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attack against the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
“Charlie, Charlie!” the crowd shouted, showing their will for the newspaper to continue to exist and for the freedom of speech to not bend to barbarism.
“Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) is the motto of the campaign in social networks, also displayed by all TV news broadcasts.
Trained terrorists with good tactics and poor strategy
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On January 7, at 11:30 am, two masked and heavily armed men attacked the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo and shot 12 people, including one security guard at the entrance, eight journalists, one guest of the editors, an officer of the French Security Services (the equivalent to Bulgaria’s National Security Services), who had guarded the main cartoonist. Four have been seriously injured, but their lives are no longer in danger.
Legendary cartoonists Cabu, Wolinski, Charb and Tignous were among those killed. According to surviving eyewitnesses, the murderers asked who is who among the journalists and the cartoonists before they shot them execution style as they had a list of enemies. Charlie Hebdo has long been subject to threats because of its bold cartoons and texts mercilessly mocking political, religious and moral blunders.
After coming out of the building, the killers drove away, but were intercepted by the police. They came out of the car and started a shootout. “Allah is great! Revenge for Prophet Mohammed! We killed Charlie Hebdo!” was how they disclosed their motivation after killing a policeman in cold blood, finishing him with a point-blank shot in the head. Then they calmly returned to the black Citroen and one of them picked a sneaker that had fallen from its open door – a sign that they kept a change of clothes in the car. Without speeding, they disappeared northwards.
These assailants are not of the “traditional” type. They are no suicide martyrs; on the contrary, they wore protective vests. They executed their hellish work methodically and deliberately, as gangsters robbing a bank. They were apparently trained. They manipulated their guns as army men and were dressed as commandos – in black clothes, hoodies, and tactical vests with pockets for magazines for the weapons. Passersby even confused them for being part of a counterterrorism unit.
Their intelligence information was, however, weak. Indeed, the day was carefully selected. On Wednesday, the newspaper employees gather in the editorial office for a briefing, while during the other days of the week the office is half empty. But the murderers initially confused the address and first burst inside another entrance, number 8 instead of number 10, on the same street where the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo is located. This was a loss of time and led to encountering many people who became witnesses. As result, a few hours later they were already identified by the police – two brothers, Cherif and Said Kouachi, about 30 years of age, known to the services namely for supporting terrorist initiatives and an 18-year-old assistant – Hamyd Mourad. Catching them is only a matter of time…
The French September 11
Twelve people are dead, this is the most significant attack by the number of victims in the last 50 years since the end of the war in Algeria, the French analysts note. Even the subway bombings in 1995 were not this deadly.
The attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, was against one of the symbols of modern Western civilization – free trade. The public transportation bombings in London and Madrid seemed to merge with past barbaric acts against airplane flights, trains and subways that are a symbol of mobility and freedom of movement. Today’s attack in Paris is unique in that it hits openly and very severely another major pillar of Western civilization – freedom of speech.
Surely, we now have the before and after January 7, 2015. We do not know what awaits us. The American response was to limit some personal freedoms in exchange of more safety and efficiency in the fight against terrorism. The British intensified surveillance and security without touching the sacred right to privacy.
France must insure that the bastards who masterminded and carried out the attack bear personal responsibility and at the same time prevent identifying extremism with religious feelings, while free speech has to become stronger, more independent and more significant than yesterday.
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