Ingrid Therwath writes for dna from Paris Today, the French are sharing “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) on the social networks as a sign of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo’s slain staffers.The 7th of January will be remembered as a black day for France and all the values the country stands for, notably freedom of expression and secularism.The fact that France is a target for terrorism is not new, but this is the worst attack the country has faced in terms of casualties in the past 40 years.Witnesses said the attackers shouted “The Prophet is avenged” and “Allahu Akbar” and claimed they belonged to Al Qaeda. They spoke perfect French. So far we are still waiting for more information about the attackers, but native Islamist networks and the radicalisation of some youths will definitely have to be addressed. The fact that the Islamic State is recruiting French people, whether of North African Muslim background or not, is already a cause for great concern. Meanwhile, one can only hope than the 5 million-strong Muslim community in France will not be stigmatised.The news on the 7th of January was supposed to be the opening of the sales and the release of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel. Instead, mid-morning, all hell broke loose when two gunmen stormed into the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. So far 12 people have lost their lives. Among them, two police officers, the well-loved cartoonists Cabu, Charb, Tignous and Wolinsky. The attack was well-planned: the terrorists came precisely during the weekly editorial meeting, the only time when the entire staff was gathered in the downtown offices.All media outlets, as well as airports and railway stations have been placed on high alert. The anti-terrorist ‘Vigipirate’ plan has specified a higher alert level, which means that there is increasing patrolling in sensitive locations such as train stations, while 3,000 policemen are hunting down the two gunmen who managed to escape.Charlie Hebdo had been a target of attacks before, especially after it published an image of the Prophet Muhammed in 2012, and won lawsuits in the name of freedom of expression. Police had provided security cover to the magazine.
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