Thursday, 8 January 2015

5 cartoonists amongst 12 killed in attack on offices of French newspaper, Charlie Hebdo

The offices of French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, were attacked yesterday by 2 masked gunmen, shooting and killing 12 people. Nine of the dead were journalists with the paper: Mustapha Ourrad, Stéphane Charbonnier (Charb), Jean Cabut (Cabu), Georges Wolinski, Bernard Verlhac (Tignous), Philippe Honoré (Honoré), Bernard Maris, Elsa Cayat, Michel Renaud; building maintenance worker Frédéric Boisseau, and policemen Ahmed Merabet and Franck Brinsolaro. 

The attack occurred at 11:30, as an editorial meeting was taking place, and it is believed this is where the gunmen were focused. Witnesses described hearing the attackers shout 'Allahu Akbar (god is great)' as well as 'We have avenged the prophet,' apparently in response to the magazine's history of publishing cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad, an act which is generally interpreted as being forbidden within Islam. The Charlie Hebdo offices were previously subject to a fire-bombing in 2011, prior to the release of their 'Sharia Hebdo' issue, which featured the Prophet Muhammad as its 'guest editor,' and also containing cartoons lampooning him. The offices had been under police protection since. Brothers Cherif Kouachi and Said Kouachi have been identified by French police as the perpetrators of yesterday's attack and are currently still on the run.  

As a comics blog, I have put together a couple of biographical sentences about the five cartoonists killed:

Jean Cabut 'Cabu': Cabut was one of France's best know cartoonists, having worked for a number of the country's satirical magazines, and for publishing many popular comic books in the 1970s and 80s. he was perhaps best know for creating the character of Mon Beauf, a caricature of the racist, sexist Frenchman, who achieved such popularity that his name slipped into common use to describe such a person. He was a staff cartoonist for Charlie Hebdo. 

Bernard Verlhac 'Tignous': Verlhac's cartoons were published in Charlie Hebdo, comic magazine Fluide Glacial, as well as French news magazines.

Georges Wolinski: Wolinski was a renowned figure in France, having been awarded the Grand Prix prize an Anguoleme in 2005 and France's highest distinction, the  Legion of Honour, the same year. He was editor of Charlie Hebdo between the years 1970 and 1981, founded the paper L’Enrag, and produced work for a wide range of publications over his long career including France-Soir, Libération, L’Humanité, Le Nouvel Observateur and Paris Match

Stephane Charonnier 'Charb: Chard was the current editor of Charlie Hebdo, a role he'd held since 2009 and also worked for many other newspapers. His cartoons would often feature Maurice et Patapon, the anti-capitalist cat and dog, and he used to publish  a monthly chronic titled La fatwa de l'Ayatollah Charb (The Fatwa of the Ayatollah Charb) in Fluide Glacial magazine.

Philippe Honoré (Honoré): Honoré was a staff cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo and also worked for publications such as Le Monde, Hara-kiri, Sud-Quest and more.

I feel devastated for the people whose lives were cut short, for the families and loved ones who have lost and been left behind. Nobody should have their life ended for putting pen to paper, regardless of how offensive and controversial the material that is produced from that effort. Do I think some of these cartoons are racist, bigoted and inciteful? Yes. Do I think the people who drew them should be murdered for them? Absolutely not. I can be offended and disagree with something and yet not want to kill the person with whom I'm disagreeing. The two are not mutually exclusive. In an ideal world, all people would have the freedom to create, say, write and draw what they want, and likewise, people would have the freedom to not agree with it and the right to respond. Murder should never be part of that response. 

Wishing peace, freedom, tolerance. and strength to all.