The Charlie Hebdo Massacre
France has been a victim in deadly terrorist attacks. One of the attacks happened on January 7, 2015 at the magazine offices of Charlie Hebdo. Two masked gunmen entered the offices and killed twelve people. For the most part the attacks were not random because they asked for specific people before killing them. Among the dead were eight journalists, two police officers, one caretaker and one visitor.
The motive is said to be some of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons about Muhammad. The magazine is known to have satire depictions of various figures. Witnesses to the crime said the men yelled out, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “God is great” in Arabic. It was until later that they admitted to being part of Al-Qaeda.
Editor in chief Gérard Biard, and the magazine’s film critic, Jean-Baptiste Thoret, spoke at an event at Freedom House in May 2015. They were asked questions about the magazine after the attacks. They were asked how the magazine was going to change. Biard responded by saying that the magazine is now seen as a symbol of values. He feels they should not be the only ones to uphold this value because it is such a big value and everyone should do their part to uphold it. He also stated that the press had some responsibility in the attacks. The cartoons were first published in 2006 due to a problem with freedom of speech. A French newspaper France Soir had published some Danish cartoons and the next day the editor in chief got fired. To show their support, Charlie Hebdo came out with the Muhammad cartoons, but only one other newspaper supported them. Other newspapers said it was too risky and that Charlie Hebdo should not have published those cartoons. The press turned their back on them. The editor of the magazine Stéphane Charbonnier was killed in the attack. He along with Biard believed that the press played a role in what happened because they showed lack of courage.
Paris Terrorist Attacks
On November 13, 2015 masked gunmen armed with assalt rifles went on a shooting spree in Paris. They targeted six locations throughout the city and killed over one hundred and thirty people and wounded hundreds more. It first began with an explosion that killed four people in and around Stade de France, a sports stadium where a soccer match was taking place. The French president was present at the time of the incident, but was able to escape unharmed. Then the killers went on to four restaurants and bars where over forty people were killed. Their next stop was Bataclan, a concert hall, where a U.S. band was playing. A total of eighty-nine people were killed here. The gunmen killed people execution style as they lay on the floor trying to protect themselves from the bullets. Among the dead was one U.S. citizen.
It was later found out that ISIS was responsible for the attacks. A few days later France launched a series of bombings at ISIS sites in Syria. Many of the attackers were French citizens.
With the recent attacks France has undergone the question everyone is asking is whether journalism will suffer. According to Karin Karlekar, who works for Freedom House, journalists have become a target of broader assaults on democratic values and tolerance. She states, “Fear should not factor into editorial judgments, but concern for safety naturally does for many media outlets.” Many journalists are afraid of retaliation against them if they write something that will be deemed inappropriate by some, but it is still their responsibility to write about it. Although they should still be wary for their staff.
French Television Cyberattack
TV5Monde, a French television network was a victim of a cyberattack in April 2015. The attack took the network’s twelve channels of the air for eighteen hours. The attackers called themselves “CyberCaliphate” and they replaced the station’s programs with black screens. The station’s website, Facebook and Twitter were also attacked and they displayed jihadist propaganda. Although the attackers claimed to be part of ISIS, it is believed the attack originated from Russia.