The attack on the Paris offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s on January 7th created 3 days of terror in France and shocked the world.
At 11 am, gunmen dressed in all black forced their way into the satirical newspaper’s office by executing the office’s security officer and manipulating a cartoonist to lead them into the newspaper’s lunchtime editorial meeting. The gunmen took control of the meeting room and separated the men from women. Before doing so, they read out a list of the people they intended to execute.
The gunmen shouted “Alahu Akbar” with the message of avenging the Prophet Mohammed. 12 were killed and 11 were wounded.
The newspaper’s cartoonists were victimized because of their reputation for making controversial cartoons that often target Islam. As the gunmen fled the offices, they killed a policeman and stole a black car so they could quickly escape the scene.
The French government immediately responded to the attack by identifying 3 suspects: Mourad Haymd, Cherif Kouachi, and Said Kouachi. All of the suspects grew up in a Muslim dominated Parisian suburb. These men saw their actions as a heroic act of martyrdom. One of the brothers was said to have told the French news network BFM on the night before they died: “We are just telling you that we are the defenders of Prophet Mohammed. I was sent, me, Cherif Kouachi, by al Qaeda in Yemen. I went there and Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki financed my trip… before he was killed.” Mourad Haymd turned himself in on Wednesday night at a local police station. 88,000 security forces were assigned to help hunt down the remaining suspects on Wednesday afternoon.
Thousands of protestors expressed their shock toward the day’s shootings at the Place de la Republique or “Republic Square” in Paris, and several other European cities saw similar responses. Many protests held up a pen or a sign saying “Je Suis Charlie” which translates to “I am Charlie”- a slogan for freedom of speech and their solidarity. Throughout the night the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie went viral over twitter and several other social media platforms.